Assessing Risk: A Relational Approach

31 March 2021

This innovative course explores the complex issues involved in assessing and managing the risk of violence and sexual offending. We asked course lead Dr Muzaffar Husain to tell us more – scroll down to read a summary of our conversation and watch a video recording.

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What is 'Assessing Risk: A Relational Approach'?

Suitable for a wide range of practitioners and clinicians, ‘Assessing Risk: A Relational Approach’ offers an innovative framework for understanding the subtle and complex issues involved in assessing and managing the risk of violence and sexual offending.

The ten-week course introduces a “narrative” element to the usual structured and semi-structured risk assessment tools – inviting participants to consider some of the principles of psychoanalytic thinking and applied psychoanalysis when undertaking risk assessment and management.

As course lead Dr Muzaffar Husain explains, “what that essentially involves is looking at formulation-driven methodologies – looking at the unconscious, the dynamic unconscious, early childhood experiences, and look at finding the offender as well as the victim in all our patients”.

Under Dr Husain’s guidance, the course has been expanded and updated in recent years – introducing a range of new themes and topics “which needed to be included in any current, contemporary assessment of risk” – including online offending, stalking, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, and delinquency in adolescence. Many of these subjects are both fascinating and sinister, requiring “quite a bit of finesse and thinking through”.

Structured around a series of lectures and discussion groups, the course benefits from the knowledge and experience of a group of expert speakers. For Dr Husain, it’s all about “balance”: “I think there’s more to it than just reading; you need an active, live experience of being in the presence of senior clinicians who work with such patients, who you can engage with, and relate to, who can put themselves in your shoes”.

And discussion isn’t limited to the usual reading material, but encompasses literature, film and other media, “which can be very usefully harnessed in illuminating some of the dark places that these offenders go to”.

Participants come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, spanning health care, social care, criminal justice, private therapy and more, and all participants bring rich insights to the group – “especially therapists who work with young people, because a lot of the topics that we touch upon have to do with young people”, adds Dr Husain.

Is this course for you?

Assessing Risk: A Relational ApproachIf your work brings you into contact with individuals who present a risk to themselves or to others, this course will offer fresh and valuable perspectives on risk assessment, symptoms, offending and enactment, which you can apply directly to your practice. You may work in a variety of settings, such as generic mental health services, social care, forensic mental health or the criminal justice system.

Find out more and apply to join our next cohort. 

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