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Student Profile: Ilvy Goossens
Forensic Psychology & Law doctoral student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
I am a doctoral student in the forensic psychology-law program at Simon Fraser University (Canada), a researcher in the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute, a graduate research assistant in the Youth Risk and Resilience Lab, and a psychology assistant at the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission. My overarching research interests focus on the intersection between mental health and the criminal justice system. My primary graduate research focuses on risk assessment and risk communication. She is a co-author of the DIARI (Decision-making In Abusive Relationships Interview: Nicholls, Hilterman, & Goossens, 2016), an interview guide to collaborate on safety planning with women in abusive relationships.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
It's still considered the foremost hub in the world for forensic psychology and, especially, violence risk assessment. I had much admiration for the faculty and positive interactions with them at conferences before I accepted the SFU offer.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
I have a varied program of work, but most recently I've been asked to explain my doctoral work more often. Here it goes: I study how we can better talk about our findings following assessments for violence risk, so that those who are supposed to use our recommendations (like police officers, judges, victims) can better do so. These findings often get communicated in vague words (e.g., "Medium risk") or mathematical terms (e.g., "25% recidivism risk in 5 years")--neither of which are easily understood outside of the assessment field. If you don't understand what's being presented, how can you act upon the recommendations?
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I've been able to work with different labs and even different departments.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.
I am a MITACS research grant and SSHRC doctoral award recipient and apply for smaller seed grants whenever I can. Large or small, they have all made an impact. Larger grants are beneficial as I can dedicate more of my time to research, as opposed to having to work other jobs to make rent :)
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
Three tips for those interested in a PhD in psychology. Think it through: Do you only want to do counseling? Consider going into counseling or obtaining a PsyD. A PhD at SFU tends to be heavily focused on research (which is why I like it), takes many years, and is not needed if your passion is therapy. Branch out: Look at all different countries and programs to find YOUR best fit. For example, did you know you can get paid for European PhDs? Find YOUR supervisor: The lab and supervisor are very important, perhaps more important than the school (if it's a good program).