A Passion for Forensic Psychology

Morgan Branco stands in front of palm leaves

Morgan Branco, RWU Class of 2018

Forensic Mental Health Counseling

Morgan Branco graduated from RWU in 2018 with a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology in the Forensic Licensure track (currently the M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program). Now, she is in her third year of the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University. She is studying to be a forensic psychologist, and hopes to work in assessment and evaluation upon her graduation. 

“The Master’s program at Roger Williams really prepared me for the program I’m in now,” she said. “It’s very similar in terms of workload and things like that. It really helped me a lot.”

Branco always liked psychology and law, but knew that she didn’t want to be a lawyer. She researched other career paths that combine psychology and law and discovered forensic psychology. Now, she is passionate about the field. 

“Being able to assess and help underserved populations is always something I’ve been interested in,” she said. 

Through her studies at RWU, Branco interned at Bridgewater State Hospital, a medium security facility that houses people in need of competency and criminal responsibility evaluations, for a year and a half. Branco worked in the high-functioning maximum security unit and had her own caseload, providing supportive intervention for patients. 

“That was a really great opportunity to be in that kind of a setting because Bridgewater State Hospital is unique. It’s one-of-a-kind. It shaped me in a lot of different ways into who I am today as a student, a clinician, and a psychology trainee. It has helped me a lot in my practicum having that experience,” she said. 

Branco learned the foundation of being a clinician in a professional setting, how to set professional boundaries, and how to work with individuals with serious mental illnesses at all levels of functioning. She learned how to maneuver in settings that could be dangerous, and learned from the professionals she worked with. The most important lesson she took from the experience, though, was in empathy and compassion. 

“The biggest thing I learned from interning at Bridgewater State Hospital, and I am extremely passionate about this statement, is not letting somebody’s crime or illness define them. So many of the patients I worked with were just so amazing, regardless of what they’d been charged with or what diagnosis they had,” she said. 

In her doctoral program, Branco is applying what she learned to her practicum. She is learning more about what populations she wants to work with, and developing her skills in evaluation and assessment. 

“It’s where my passion lies,” she said.