Katie Hinds, Consultant Psychologist at Carter Brown, sat down to share the experiences which have motivated her to support better outcomes at Carter Brown throughout her career.
What is your role at Carter Brown and how long have you been part of the Carter Brown team of independent experts?
I work as a consultant physiologist at Carter Brown. I have been working with them since May 2020, and during this time, I have completed more than sixty cases with them.
What made you choose Carter Brown?
I have worked as a Principal Psychologist in three different local authorities over the last fifteen years and been responsible for managing some big psychology services during this time.
After many years working within the realms of psychology, I decided to do something I had always dreamed of and set up my own company. When I did this, I had full control over who I wanted to work with and what type of work I wanted to undertake. It was at this stage that I saw an advertisement on the British Psychological Society website and I liked the sound of the type of work you could do with Carter Brown.
I really liked the range of work involved and the initial support that Carter Brown provides throughout the process. Working with a company such as Carter Brown, who possess a huge number of skills and experience in navigating the systems, was attractive to me.
Could you provide us with a broader definition of the types of assessments/categories of assessments that you complete?
My work tends to fall into two categories – I work with private law proceedings work, which is generally where parents are seeking intervention from the judge to resolve a matter within the family. This could be anything from a dispute about contact arrangements, to a child who does not want contact with one parent.
The second category is public law proceedings work, which tends to be around keeping children safe. This includes working with local authorities around children who are about to be or are already in care. This work can take a variety of different guises, including children’s development, family support, early trauma and children’s development, and presentation and parenting capacity.
What is the main driver in your line of work?
The main driver in my line of work is very much about protecting children. I have been a psychologist for over 20 years in total and the common theme in this work is very much about firstly keeping children safe, and secondly maximizing outcomes for those children.
What we know in an educational sense is that children who have lived through adverse life experiences are less likely to achieve well through the formal educational system and are more likely to have social and emotional problems and barriers to learning and development.
I feel passionately that education is a really good vehicle for social mobility, so for me personally, my job is very much about supporting these children and putting frameworks into action to ensure that they are then able to make positive life choices and grow into adults who are able to make healthy decisions and ultimately thrive.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent expert?
There are a range of challenges with this work. Sometimes the cases are desperately sad, which is something that you can never be desensitized to, no matter how long you have been working in this field.
To overcome this, you must recognise and be able to relate to the trauma to fully understand the impact that it might have on a child at such a young age.
If you are an independent expert, that normally means you work alone, so you must source supervision through an alternative arrangement, which I believe is really necessary to reflect upon your own practice and is important to improve and grow. This is the other challenge, to ensure that you are improving and evolving.
Could you give us a few examples of positive outcomes from cases you’ve been involved in (within Carter Brown)?
Sometimes, you don’t always hear what happens next after your work with a child or family. Sometimes you do a piece of work and make a series of recommendations for the judge and the case gets referred back to court.
I have been involved with two cases where it has been ongoing and they have come back and asked for further work. In these two cases, the parents of the children are now back in regular face to face contact with the child, which is really lovely to see, because both of those children were estranged from their parents for many years.
Seeing families reuniting is amazing and it is fundamentally about making sure whatever arrangements are in place are in the best interests of the children.
Do you have any advice that you would share with other independent expert colleagues that want to join the Carter Brown service?
For me, Carter Brown has been excellent because not only are they extremely professional, but every colleague is effective in their role and delivery is prompt and responsive.
I would recommend to anyone who is looking to embark on a career in expert witness work to consider working with an intermediary agency like Carter Brown, because they do offer that support and client base which is essential. Carter Brown also coordinates your workload and quality assure your work, which for me, in the first instance, was fundamental.
Above all else, have confidence in your skill basis and experience working within this field and lean on those colleagues at Carter Brown for their experiences and expertise. Carter Brown has a lot of experience and they will walk you through the process until you start to feel more confident.
Explore our opportunities to join our team of Independent Expert Witnesses here.