Dr. Adrian Needs
Adrian Needs was a psychologist in HM Prison Service for fourteen years, attaining the rank of Principal Psychologist. He worked in a number of high security prisons (principally Wakefield, Full Sutton and Hull special unit), specialising in work with lifers, sex offenders and personality disordered individuals. His last few years were served at the Prison Service College (later Training Services) in developing and piloting both generic and specialised training for prison officers and governors. Sidelines included being a hostage negotiation advisor (a role which extended to firearms incidents with the police) and an in-service counsellor for staff suffering from post-traumatic and other forms of stress. He left in 1997 to start up the first (and still the only) MSc in forensic psychology in Scotland and joined the University of Portsmouth as a Principal Lecturer in 2000.
A major impetus behind this change of direction was a growing (it arguably became a central) role in the development of academic and professional training for forensic psychologists in the UK. From an early involvement with the Division of Criminological and Legal (later Forensic) Psychology of the British Psychological Society, such as being forensic representative on the BPS project on Occupational Standards in Applied Psychology, he came to be Chair of the Division's Training Committee at the time accreditation criteria for MSc courses in the field were first formulated and used. This led in turn to being Chair of the Division's Working Party on Supervised Practice which had a similarly innovative function and laid the foundation for the present national system. He has also been a member of national working parties on homicide, suicide and disasters.
A Chartered and Health Professions Council Registered Forensic Psychologist with a BA in Psychology from Cardiff, a DPhil from York and a qualification in post-trauma counselling from the Richmond Fellowship, he has also been external examiner for the MSc Forensic Psychology courses at Kent, Surrey, and the University of Central Lancashire and has been on the validation panels for ten such courses.
He is Course Leader of the University's MSc Forensic Psychology, a BPS accredited programme which began in 2001. Much of his teaching is on MSc units such as The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour, Assessment and Formulation, Interventions with Offenders and Working with Organisations. Contributions are also made to teaching on forensically relevant units at undergraduate level on topics such as homicide, sexual offending and working in prisons. Given his background it is unsurprising that these sessions are based in part on personal experience rather than exclusively on reading or research. He also has a substantial role in research supervision at PhD, MSc and BSc levels; many of the supervised topics explore processes relevant to offending and offenders.
Research and Consultancy
Current research interests include the role of life events as precursors to homicide and processes involved in personal change. He has also supervised several MSc projects in the Young Women’s Unit of a large women’s prison, where the focus has been on attachment, instability of the sense of self and perceptions of the interpersonal environment. The latter area has led to an involvement in the area of therapeutic communities and improving interpersonal relations in custodial settings as a necessary part of the rehabilitative process. Consultancy work has included an investigation into segregation of prisoners for the Scottish Prison Service, aiding in the design of a selection procedure for hostage incident commanders in the Prison Service, advising on aspects of a variety of new treatment and training programmes for Ashworth Hospital and acting as an expert witness in cases of violent or sexual offending for the Parole Board and Crown Court.
Publications before 2000
- Needs, A. (1997). Psychosocial treatment. In M.J. Hoghughi, S.R. Bhate & F. Graham (Eds.)Working with sexually abusive adolescents. London: Sage.
- Needs, A. & Towl, G.J. (1997). Reflections on clinical risk assessments with lifers. Prison Service Journal, 113, 14 - 17.
- Needs, A. (1995). Social skills training. In G.Towl (Ed.) Groupwork in prisons. Issues in Criminological and Legal Psychology No.23. Leicester: The British Psychological Society.
- Needs, A. (1992). Some issues raised by the application of personal construct psychology to the sexual abuse of children. In P. Maitland & D. Brennan (Eds.) Personal construct psychology, deviancy and social work. (2nd edn.) London: Inner London Probation Service.
- Needs, A. (1988). Psychological investigation of offending behaviour. In F. Fransella & L. Thomas (Eds.) Experimenting with personal construct psychology. London: Routledge.
Recent Conference and Invited Seminar Presentations
- Needs, A. (2004). Echoes in intrapersonal space. Seminar on repertory grid techniques for Rampton Hospital.
- Needs, A. (2004). Analysing murder. Forensic Psychology Today . One - day conference, University of Portsmouth.
- Needs, A. (2004). Marsupials, method acting and stuttering: Some old new areas for models of change. Offenders and Change. One - day conference, University of Portsmouth.
- Needs, A. (2007). Violence in prisons: the influence of paranoid processes. Conference of the International Association of Law and Mental Health, Padua.
- Needs, A. (2007). Paranoid processes in prisons. Conference of the Division of Forensic Psychology, York.
- Needs, A. (2008). Social climate, attachment and self- uncertainty. Seminar at Broadmoor Hospital.
- Needs, A. (2008). Life events as precursors of homicide. Conference of the International Society for Research into Aggression, Budapest.
- Needs, A. (2009). Psychological dimensions of life events as precursors of homicide. Conference of the Division of Forensic Psychology, Preston.
- Needs, A. (2010). Manipulation and boundary issues. NHS/ HM Prison Service seminar, Ravenswood House Secure Unit.
- Needs, A. (2010). The unstable self: applications and implications. Conference of the Division of Forensic Psychology, Canterbury.