Dr Genevieve Bartuski

Correctional Psychologist and Crisis Negotiator, Oklahoma State Penitentiary
MSC in Criminal and Penal Psychology 2005


Q. Your career in Psychology has seen you take on a variety of interesting roles; which one over the years did you find most rewarding as a professional and why?

I have found rewarding parts of each role that I have taken.  My work can be highly stressful at times so I look for the little wins and focus on the positive aspects.  If I had to pick one of the most rewarding roles, it has been as a trainer and mentor.  I love teaching the staff about mental health.  I do the Suicide Prevention training for new hires and for the cadets in the correctional officer academy.  I love it.  I’m happy to share my knowledge and to facilitate communication across disciplines. 

Q. Responding to emergency situations seems to be a regular dynamic flowing throughout your job history. When did you discover that you possessed the mental toughness required to handle high pressure situations? 

It was pretty early on in my career that I discovered this.  My first job after graduating from GCU was in the Crisis Department of an acute psychiatric hospital.  Basically, this department handles mental health emergencies and coordinates with police and first responders in the community.  I took to it pretty quickly.  

Q. It seems you have quite a fast-paced working lifestyle. When and where do you find time to switch off? 

As soon as I leave work, I try to switch off.  Some days are easier than others.  I actively work on maintaining healthy habits.  I meal prep healthy foods, keep my house clean, try to get enough sleep, and make exercise a part of my life.  Some weeks, I do better than others.  I try to keep a good social network of friends outside of work and I have a close relationship with my family.  I make it a point to travel and go on vacation at least once a year.  I’ve also learned the importance of clear boundaries and that it’s okay to say no.  One other important thing is to know when I’m getting stressed and to take a step back.  If I need to, I’ll take a mental health day and hang out with my dog.  It’s all about finding that balance.  

Q. You completed a MSC in Criminal and Penal Psychology at GCU why did you choose GCU to study for this specific course? 

A.I always wanted to live and study abroad.  As a teenager, I thought that would be the coolest thing in the world do. I developed an interest in forensic psychology before shows like Criminal Minds and CSI made it more mainstream so there were very few schools that had it as a program of study at that time.  I looked at schools in the UK and here in America before deciding on GCU.  It seemed like a win-win for me.  I could study abroad and study exactly what I wanted.  It was an amazing experience and I am so glad that I did it.    

Q. As an international student, how did you find staying in Glasgow? Were there any profound differences that you encountered? 

I moved to Glasgow from New York City, one of the largest cities in the world.  It felt so much more accessible and manageable than New York.  However, the Scottish accent was tough for me to understand as was the slang.  I had a few laughs misunderstanding what people were saying but it was a great experience.  I loved mix of history and culture in a modern city.  Ashton Lane in the West End was one of my favourite places to go on the weekends.  

Q. Looking back, what were the highlights from your experience studying at Glasgow Caledonian University? 

One of the highlights of my experience studying at GCU was how I grew as a person.  There is something to be said for moving abroad on your own when you’re young and figuring your way in this world. I met people from all over and I learned from them.  I graduated in 2005 and I still keep in contact with the friends I made and some of my professors. 

Q. On returning home, were there any skills you acquired during your time as an international student which you could integrate back into your professional makeup? 

Living and studying abroad made me more open-minded.  There are differences in the criminal justice systems and how people with mental illness are treated.  A lot of times, people can get tunnel vision and continue doing things the same way because that is the way they’ve always done them.  I think my experiences help me look at things differently and make me less hesitant to consider other perspectives.  

Q. GCU's current and first female chancellor, Dr Annie Lennox OBE, is championing an agenda of celebrating women in the workplace and striving for gender equality on a global level. In your career field and location, what do you think of the state of equal opportunities for women?  

This is a good question and there is so much that I can say about it.  My field is interesting.  It is a mix if psychology and law enforcement.  There is tendency for my male co-workers to want to protect me and keep me safe.  A colleague said it the best, “we wouldn’t need their protection if we had their respect”.  This is very true.  Even with my doctorate, I have had male colleagues make comments about me making coffee and saying; “you need to smile”.  These are both condescending and frustrating.  People are more likely to address my male master’s level colleagues as “Dr.” and me as “Miss”, despite “Dr.” being the title and position that I have earned.  Because my salary is legislated, it is on par with my male colleagues.  However, in the private sector, men still make more than their female counterparts. 

Q. You mentioned one of your posts was to work with law enforcement and other mental health professionals to divert the mentally vulnerable from prison and into treatment. Now you are working in Oklahoma State Penitentiary, what are your opinions towards the model of psychiatric help available to the incarcerated. Do you feel enough is being done to reform the moral compass of those serving time? 

In Oklahoma and most other places, there is not enough funding for mental health treatment in the community.  It simply isn’t a priority for most people.  In the 1970s here in America, there was a huge push for de-institutionalization, which resulted in the closing of the larger state hospitals.  This caused a ripple effect in our society.  Folks with severe and persistent mental illnesses were supposed to be moved to community-based treatment but it didn’t work.  Many people ended up homeless and in the criminal justice system.  The number of mental health crises in the community that police respond to has and continues to grow.  There aren’t enough treatment options so these people end up in prison.  The number of incarcerated individuals who have a severe mental illness is staggering.  Prisons have become the new treatment centers.  We do our very best but it is not enough.  Prisons are not the best places to provide treatment.  It is hard for someone to heal in such an environment.  

In terms of reforming the moral compass of inmates serving time, there is not nearly enough being done.  We do the best with the resources we have.  The number of programs offered in prison is increasing.  In Oklahoma, depending on the facility, there are education opportunities, job training, violence reduction programs, and many other things.  Due to the sheer number of inmates, we are not able to help as many inmates as we want.  

Q.  Prospective students wishing to study your course at GCU, why should they choose Glasgow Caledonian? 

GCU has a lot of resources and an international network of graduates.  The school has grown quite a bit since I attended and it continues to grow.  I had great professors who I still keep in contact with after all these years.  Plus, Glasgow is a great city and will always have a special place in my heart.  

Q. How have your qualifications helped you excel in your career since graduation? 

My qualifications helped me land my first job in the field.  Here in America, it’s not common for people to have a degree from a Scottish university.  I have been offered a couple of interviews just because the interviewer was curious about my education.  It helped me get my foot in the door.  

Q. What's next for you? 

I want to support and mentor other women in the field.  I think this is very important.  As a woman, I still face hurdles that my male colleagues do not.  I think it’s important for women to be supportive of each other.  I am always happy to share my knowledge and connections.  What good is it to have success if I don’t use it to help others?    

Q. Having progressed from studying a specific discipline to finding success in your chosen field . What advice would you give to new graduates looking for the next step?

There are two things that have helped me along the way.  The first one is to not stay somewhere or in a job just because it’s comfortable.  Always grow both personally and professionally.  Second, consider opportunities that you may never have thought to consider.  You never know what you might like.  You could end up surprising yourself.  I know I have many times and I’ve grown because of it.  

MINT (Mentoring, Internships, Networking and Talks) Supporting the Class of 2020


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