Growing up in Detroit, Dr. Melvin Hinton witnessed firsthand what could happen to those who didn’t have access to the quality education, health services, and opportunities he was fortunate to have in his loving, middle class home.
As the Statewide Mental Health Chief for the Illinois Department of Corrections, Dr. Hinton has devoted his career to making a difference in the lives of America’s most vulnerable—working with his team to provide 50,000 incarcerated men and women access to mental health services in 25 correctional facilities.
Dr. Hinton says that success in this complex field often times is small and measured. If an offender chooses to return to therapy, and continue to heal, it is a win for everyone. Understanding this fact is key if one wants to have longevity in this setting. Dr. Hinton credits his achievements, and the impact he has been able to make on the practical education he received at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
The clinical forensic psychology graduate program not only offered superior theoretical training, but hands-on training with the population he desired to help. Exposed to a “phenomenal and important introduction” to the correctional system, including completing his diagnostic practicum at the Cook County Jail, Dr. Hinton’s experience at The Chicago School reaffirmed the direction he wanted to take after graduation.
Dr. Hinton says he still relies on his graduate training to respond to the needs of the diverse population he serves, making an effort to treat inmates with dignity while encouraging them to build a healthy foundation to create positive changes in their lives.
“One small moment, as basic as calling the inmates by their last name … Mr. Smith or Ms. Jones, establishes a connection with them,” he explains. “Throughout the day those individuals are being called ‘prisoner,’ ‘offender,’ or ‘inmate’ and addressing them by their actual name for some might be the first time they have been addressed in that matter at any point during that day. Small steps like this plant the seed of worth for them.”
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