Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program

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Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program is an alternative to incarceration program designed to clinically assess defendants charged with both felonies and misdemeanors for the presence of a psychiatric and a substance abuse disorder, refer defendants to treatment in the community and monitor their progress in the Queens Criminal Justice System. Queens TASC identifies and diverts individuals with serious mental illness from current or potential incarceration. Working in collaboration with the Queens District Attorney’s office, the defense bar, and the Queens Mental Health Court, Queens TASC provides in-depth diagnostic evaluation of the defendant including violence risk assessment, and identifies appropriate treatment resources that can meet the needs of the offender. All accepted defendants must agree to take a conditional plea. In some cases, they will be required to sign a plea agreement. By taking this plea the defendant agrees to have his sentence deferred until which time they have completed the goals of their treatment plan designed by Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program, and have been compliant with the rules and regulations set forth by the courts. Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program manages the Queens Misdemeanor Mental Health Court and most of the cases in the Queens Felony Mental health Court. In addition, referrals are made from any Queens Criminal Court Part, including the Integrated Domestic Violence Court, the Special Victims Court, and the Queens Veterans Court.

Defendants referred to Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program have been charged with a variety of violent and non-violent offenses. In addition, they present with a variety of psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.

Psychology Externship Position: Psychology externs will be part of a clinical team of forensic case managers, a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They will conduct forensic psychological evaluations for the courts, present cases to the psychologists and psychiatrist during clinical meetings and supervision, attend regular meetings with the judge from the felony mental health court and become involved in treatment planning. In addition, once a defendant has been accepted for diversion, externs will be responsible for making referrals to treatment providers, monitor defendants for compliance, and provide the courts with regular updates on treatment progress. Most of the evaluations take place in the criminal court building and in the TASC office, either through Video Conference from Rikers Island, or in the court basement cells. Occasionally, externs will conduct evaluations at other facilities where defendants are housed while being restored to competency.

Decisions about eligibility for diversion are made based on a variety of factors, such as the presence of an Axis I diagnosis, malingering, level of violence and recidivism risk, competency to make decisions regarding treatment, and motivation for treatment. Even though externs will not be conducting CPL 730 evaluations, many of the defendants referred to the Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program are psychiatrically unstable at the time of the initial assessment and an adjudicative competency evaluation may be warranted. Externs will be trained on how to assess for signs and symptoms that may render a defendant incompetent to proceed and how to communicate this information to the defense attorneys and the courts so that a CPL 730 can be ordered. Externs will learn how to use violence risk assessment instruments (e.g., HCR-20), how to incorporate the results of a risk assessment in a report, and how to communicate risk levels to the courts. In addition, externs will be conducting testing for the purpose of diagnostic clarification and personality assessment, assessment of malingering, and assessment of cognitive impairments. Externs will gain knowledge in the areas of public mental health and criminal justice systems. In addition, they will learn to conduct clinical interviewing, personality assessment, and psychosocial assessments, as well as to formulate, conceptualize and present cases, and make appropriate treatment recommendations based on the defendants’ level of risk and severity of mental illness and substance abuse. Externs will also be trained in how to implement a Cognitive Behavioral intervention to target criminogenic thinking, which they will then utilize in their monitoring of their individual clients.

In addition to the clinical experience, Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program has several ongoing research projects. Externs can become involved in research depending on trainees’ particular interests and time availability.

Externs will work directly under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist. Externs will receive at least one hour of face-to-face supervision weekly with the clinical director, a licensed clinical psychologist. In addition, they will attend regular clinical meetings and case conferences.

Requirements 1. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a clinical psychology doctoral program and have some prior assessment experience. Advanced doctoral students are preferred. 2. Good communication skills, both oral and written. Ability to work cooperatively with treatment and mental health systems.

Time Commitment: Two days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM. July 2017 to June 2018.

To Apply: Email letter of interest, two letters of recommendation, current curriculum vitae, and an assessment writing sample to efernandez@nyctasc.org. Applications are reviewed beginning January 15th (following the Consortium guidelines) and interviews by invitation will be held in January and February on a rolling admission basis. If you would like to speak with someone prior to submitting your application, please contact:

Edward Fernandez, PsyD Clinical Director Licensed Clinical Psychologist Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program 120-34 Queens Blvd Suite 410 Kew Gardens, NY 11415 efernandez@nyctasc.org 718-268-5657

3 positions offered

Note: Although externs will be meeting regularly with defendants, these sessions are for the purpose of counseling and monitoring. This is primarily an assessment and not a therapy externship.

  • Thank you Miranda Rosenberg

Contact Information

Name of Externship: Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program

Name of Director/Coordinator: Edward Fernandez Street Address:

120-34 Queens Blvd
Suite 410
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

Telephone: 718-268-5657

Email: [emailto:efernandez@nyctasc.org

General Information

Start Date: July 2017 End Date: June 2018 Appropriate for:


Scheduling : two days per week, 9 to 5 PM, no required day

Required level of readiness (any prior experiences or level of training required for applicants):

applicant should have some assessment and other clinical experience

Is there a stipend for externs?


Application Process

Additional dates for applications? No

What materials need to be submitted?

  • Letter of application
  • CV
  • Letter of reference
  • One sample of written clinical material (psychological test report and/or case summary)
  • Letter of readiness

How should it be submitted?

email to Dr. Fernandez at the above address.

Description of Externship

Populations commonly served:

Some Adolescents
Primarily Adults
Forensic clients

Training models offered:


Intervention training experiences commonly offered:

Psychological Assessment
Forensic Assessment
Monitoring for courts
CBT for criminogenic thinking

Assessment training experiences commonly offered:

Forensic Assessment (violence risk assessment, malingering assessment)
Personality and Diagnostic Assessment
Forensic Report Writing
Mental Status Exam
Clinical interviewing


Estimated hours/week of individual supervision: _1_

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