The life and work of a forensic psychologist

There is usually a chance of treatment for even the most disturbed criminals, says Cristina Soeiro, forensic psychologist with almost 30 years of experience. In this type of work, she claims, mental health professionals truly need to work as a team. 

Catia Bruno
Cátia Bruno NewsMavens, Portugal
The life and work of a forensic psychologist - NewsMavens
Forensic items. Pixabay.

Why this story matters:

Violent crime has been declining steadfastly in the last years in Portugal -- by 37% during the past ten years. It is no surprise that the country takes up the fourth place in the safest countries index from the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Except that Portugal is also a country where the crime which increased the most in 2017 was rape, reaching its highest level since 2010. It is also a country where 83% of the women killed since 2004 were killed by their partners or former partners, highlighting how domestic violence is an ever present issue with dark outcomes.

Cristina Soeiro has spent a lifetime analyzing and treating criminals, particularly the most violent ones: murderers, rapists, arsonists. She also studied the effects on victims, particularly children who experienced sexual abuse.

Soeiro is adamant that many criminals can be treated and claims that is her "mission": "If we work well and if we can step in, we can decrease the number of potential future victims. That is very important", she sums up.

In this interview with Diário de Notícias, the psychologist talks about the kind of intervention done regularly inside the criminal justice system, as well as about her own life, stressing how asking for help regarding mental health is important. That is why she openly admits how she needed therapy to deal with a women trafficking case: "I realized it was interfering with my personal life so I sought help."

Details from the story:

  • Soeiro, who has a PhD in Forensic Psychology, is also a professor of the Police Academy.The training of Portuguese police officers is currently quite specialized in sexual crimes, she says, with a specific program.
  • Criminality has changed in the past 20 years. The police officers are now more apt in dealing with sexual abuse, particularly with children. Murders are declining, except for men killing their partners. "Some changes are connected to the evolution of society", the psychologist explains.
  • The focus of a forensic psychologist work when dealing with criminals, says Soeiro, is to make sure they won't reoffend. But each case is different: some people are mentally disturbed, others have personality disorders, some problems can be fixed and some can't. Team work is crucial to deal with these individuals, claims the psychologist. 
  • Domestic violence is still a major issue in Portugal, but the response "is adequate". The problem, Soeiro says, is on how the different bodies react and get on the same page. The idea of a specific court to deal with domestic violence cases, as one party suggested, is a good idea for Soeiro.
EDITOR'S PICK:
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
Google DNI
SUPPORTED BY:
Women in news
World Editors Forum
STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy