Emily Froming ’21 studies under forensics psychologist Dr. Cassandra Smisson Hayes at Smisson Psychology Services in Houston, TX

Hi! I’m Emily Froming, a rising junior psychology major (with an intended history minor). This summer, I’m interning at Smisson Psychology Services in Houston, Texas. Dr. Cassandra Smisson Hayes is a clinical psychologist who, aside from providing clinical services, also specializes in forensic psychology. The forensic services that Dr. Hayes provides includes pre-trial psychological testing, assessment, and consultation; trial consultation; assessing competency to stand trial; assessment for parole or probation; and therapy services.

An average day for me at my internship starts with me and Dr. Hayes sitting and discussing what the plan is for the day – usually why her client has been referred to her, and what she’s looking for in her assessment of them. Her client is usually given some psychological tests and/or assessments to complete. The type of test given changes depending on why the client was referred to Dr. Hayes. For example, if Dr. Hayes is trying to determine a client’s future risk of offending, the tests the client is given will focus more on the client’s risks, needs, and strengths. The Inventory of Offender Risk, Needs, and Strength (IORNS) is a self-reported, written measure that helps show Dr. Hayes how likely the client is to become a repeat offender.

While the tests are administered, I usually score tests from previous clients. The most common test I score is the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). The PAI serves as an inventory of adult personality. It assesses psychopathological syndromes and provides information relevant for clinical diagnosis, treatment planning, and screening for psychopathology.

After the client has taken their tests, Dr. Hayes begins her assessment. With the psychological tests, she tailors her assessment based on the client’s offense and what she’s trying to assess. So far, I’ve sat in on three assessments: two where Dr. Hayes was looking to determine the client’s future risk of reoffending and one with the goal of assessing competency to stand trial.

As someone who wants to pursue a career in forensic psychology, this internship has been beyond amazing. It’s so fascinating to see how Dr. Hayes changes her assessments based on the client’s needs. Aside from being fascinating, the internship also helps to give me insight into how Dr. Hayes’ forensic services can benefit her clients – whether it’s trying to get them probation rather than jail time or trying to lessen their sentence, her services can help to change her clients’ lives. It’s only mid-June and this whole experience has been beyond educational, and I look forward to what the rest of the summer holds.


Experiences like Emily Froming’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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