CJ Section ECP Spotlight
Meet Lauren Vera
Lauren Vera, PhD
BA, psychology; MA, forensic psychology; PhD, clinical psychology
Forensic psychologist and treatment provider at U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners
Lauren Vera is a forensic unit psychologist currently working as a treatment provider for the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. She provides evidenced-based group and individual psychotherapy services to severally mentally ill inmates, most of whom are civilly committed for inpatient psychiatric treatment. Additionally, she completes forensic risk assessments as one part of a larger process to ensure civilly committed inmates are suitable for conditional release back to the community.
Vera received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and her master’s in forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, New York. She then returned to Sam Houston State University to complete her doctoral training. She graduated with her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2017, after completing her predoctoral internship at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield. It was during her internship year that she developed a strong passion for providing treatment to populations suffering with severe mental illness. She particularly loved how each patient she worked with presented with their own unique challenges, their own unique backgrounds, and their own unique needs. This diversity strengthened Vera’s ability to adapt quickly to each new patient and develop treatment plans most suited to each patient and their treatment goals. Adding to the already exciting challenge of working with those suffering with severe mental illness, was balancing patient treatment needs with the demands of working in a correctional setting.
Following internship, Vera spent her post-doctorate year providing psychological services on an inpatient psychiatric unit in the Springfield community, before returning to the federal medical center where she had completed her internship.
Vera’s fondness for work in public service stems from the challenge of providing treatment to an underserved and severally mentally ill population of inmates. She strongly believes this work cannot only help the individuals to whom she provides treatment, but can also serve the community by working to increase the likelihood these individuals can return to the community as productive members of society. Vera also appreciates the fast-paced and ever-changing changing nature of her workday. While day-to-day operations include individual therapy, group therapy and supervision of pre-doctoral psychology interns, it also entails unexpected crisis management and subsequent cross-disciplinary treatment planning. Her current “pro-tip” for working in a correctional setting is, “Never fill out your appointment calendar in pen. Use a pencil with a very large eraser.”
Though she is early in her career, Vera has quickly learned the value of interdisciplinary communication, collaboration and cooperation. She believes that any early career psychologist considering a career in public service would greatly benefit from learning to appreciate the value that every member of an interdisciplinary team brings to providing excellent care to individuals in that psychologist’s service. There will always be an angle or a perspective that you cannot see, and if you fail to proactively seek the perspective of others, then the picture will always be incomplete, and so will the treatment you provide.