About Our Lab
The Forensic Psychology in the Public Interest lab conducts research on public health issues within the context of the criminal justice system. At the core of our research is the application of psychological science and theory to inform how we assess and treat persons with a history or risk of criminal justice contact. In recent years, we have focused on two populations: persons with severe mental illnesses (SMI) and women in violent relationships. Both populations experience public health and safety issues at rates greater than seen in the general population. Our research projects cover three broad areas of inquiry: 1) causes and correlates; 2) assessment; and 3) intervention.
Causes and Correlates
The effectiveness of interventions depends upon an understanding of the problems they were designed to address. To this end, research conducted by the Forensic Psychology in the Public Interest lab examines the causes and correlates of criminal justice contact and violent outcomes.
Building upon an understanding of the causes and correlates of high risk behaviors, reliable and valid assessments provide the foundation for effective intervention. A significant proportion of our lab research is devoted to the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START) and the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability: Adolescent Version (START:AV). Other topics of research include substance use assessment in adults with SMI, early identification of intimate partner violence, and the use of innovative assessment strategies (e.g., smartphones, interactive voice response) in high risk populations.
Accurate assessments in and of themselves do not reduce risk. The Forensic Psychology in the Public Interest lab is involved in several projects focused on the development, validation, and implementation of evidence-based interventions for the prevention of criminal justice contact among adults with behavioural health problems.