After working in the NHS for over two decades, Mechthild Jenkins, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Independent Expert Witness at Carter Brown, sat down to share her career experiences that have motivated her to support better outcomes with Carter Brown.
What is your role at Carter Brown and how long have you been part of the Carter Brown team of independent experts?
I have been with Carter Brown since the summer of 2009 as Consultant Clinical Psychologist. My role is to provide assessments for children, adults and families for the family as well as the criminal courts.
Before joining Carter Brown, I worked as Head of the Child Clinical Psychology Department at Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber Foundation Trust (RDaSH). In 2008 I took early retirement after having completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Forensic Psychology (Leicester University) and I started working in Private Practice. I had missed doing clinical work in my position as Head of Department and the opportunity of going independent would allow me to see clients again.
What made you choose Carter Brown?
During my career, I was Psychology Advisor to the North Lincolnshire Adoption Panel and often came across reports from Carter Brown Associates and I always thought they produced high quality work.
I value the support around administration and case allocation, an area I always experienced as rather unrewarding when I started to work in Private Practice.
I also appreciate the proofreading service offered by Carter Brown, as no matter how many times you read a report, you can miss small errors and it is so embarrassing if it goes to court.
I regard the whole team at Carter Brown as very well trained and thorough with every aspect of their work. I find their support very helpful, as it allows me to focus fully on the psychological assessment and report writing.
Could you provide us with a broader definition of the types of assessments/categories of assessments that you complete?
Working in the NHS for over twenty years, I have developed a special interest and expertise in clinical and forensic psychology and court work. I have gained extensive experience in assessing developmental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder, as well as Child Abuse and Neglect, physical, emotional and sexual harm and Post Traumatic Stress.
As part of my work in Child protection, I have carried out numerous risk assessments of parents and other adults caring for children.
As Psychology Adviser to the North Lincolnshire Adoption Panel, I gained experience regarding the adoption process and psychological assessments informing the decision-making process, i.e., attachment, wishes and feelings.
More recently, since I obtained the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Forensic Psychology, I have extended my expertise to the assessment of vulnerable witnesses and defendants and I am particularly interested in the assessment of suggestibility, false confessions, fitness to plead and evaluation of Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews.
What is the main driver in your line of work?
What drives me in my work is to conduct comprehensive assessments of the clients that have been referred to me and to make useful recommendations for how we can help deliver better outcomes. I think it is important to find out what is the problem and then find the solutions.
My aim is to always conduct a full psychological assessment of people to see what their needs and difficulties are, so I can make useful recommendation.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent expert?
I would say one of the most challenging aspects of being an independent expert is not being in a team. You often work alone and there is a possibility that you will feel isolated at times. I would recommend to anyone starting out to have a strong network of peer supervision, clinical and personal supervision and to be mindful of the importance to pace oneself.
Could you give us a few examples of positive outcomes from cases you’ve been involved in, within Carter Brown?
One standout case I have been involved in, was around children who made sexual allegations against their father, and due to him being in a very powerful position at the time, it was a difficult and long case. The father claimed that the children were “coached” by their mother to make the allegations. However, my risk assessment of the father concluded that the father presented as a risk of sexual harm to his children and my veracity analysis of the ABE Interview of the children was able to evidence that the statements of the children were based on what they had experienced rather than a result of coaching by their mother. This resulted in a positive outcome for the children and finding of fact against the father.
Do you have any advice that you would share with other independent expert colleagues that want to join the Carter Brown service?
I would advise not to take cases on that fall outside your expertise. I believe it is important to pace oneself and to avoid being overwhelmed by too much work.
To make sure to have enough training, peer supervision, emotional support as well as professional support and be careful to not spread yourself too thinly.
Explore our opportunities to join our team of Independent Expert Witnesses here.