One of my heroine is on death row and meets with a psychologist shortly after her execution date is set. I have no idea what kind of things she will be asked, and need help from the doctor's perspective. Would you have any thoughts on that?
Of course I have thoughts. :) I only hope that they will be helpful for you.
Likely the psychologist would be processing with her about what she had done to get on death row and her feelings about it: remorse, guilt, outrage (if innocent), etc. I imagine dealing with the fears of dying, or anxiety or whatever else she might feel, would also be discussed. There might be some discussion about what method of execution she'll undergo...some psychoeducational stuff to prepare her (like if by injection, exactly what would happen, how she might feel, etc).
The only thing I don't see the psychologist ASKING, but would probably go into it if the client brought it up, is her background, personal problems or something like that. I mean, at this stage, she's in jail, about to die, and there probably wouldn't be much motivation to delve into all that. But I suppose it's a probability.
I've never counseled someone on death row, so these are definitely suppositions. However, I've counseling individuals who knew they faced death via a terminal illness. While it's a bit different in terms of the "how" and "why" of death, it's not at all different in terms of the waiting. Those I've counseled fixate on how mortal they are. They ask questions of "Why me?" and I imagine those on death row would probably still ask this question (even though the justice system knows exactly "why them").
I think the counselor's role in this type of situation is a much more passive one. I'm not advocating not having a treatment plan, but just listening to the inmate would be the primary goal. Listening to them talk about whoever or whatever they want. They might resent the psychologist trying to take a more active role (then again, they might not). Either way, it's imperative for the therapist to take a person-centered approach to the sessions using unconditional positive regard and empathy for the client.
Q4U: What do you think might be on your mind were you facing execution?
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