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Group Counseling in Institutional Settings (From Correctional Assessment, Casework, and Counseling, P 225-246, 2001, Anthony Walsh, -- See NCJ-192641)

NCJ Number
Anthony Walsh
Date Published
22 pages
This chapter discusses institutional group counseling.
Two impediments to institutional counseling include the inmate code against authority, and the fact that a lot of inmates are motivated to impress the parole board rather than improve themselves. Group counseling is an effective way to combat the negative group pressures that hinder rehabilitative efforts. Group counseling uses peer pressure to combat the criminal attitudes and values that many of the group members hold as individuals. The first task in the planning for group counseling is to formulate specific aims and goals to be pursued by the group. Next is the selection of group members from a pool of volunteers. An examination of the offenders’ classification scales and psychological profiles will aid in this endeavor. Each prospective member of the group then should be given an individual screening interview to determine why this person wants to join the group, expectations, readiness, and whether this individual will be counterproductive to the cohesion of the group. Group counseling is an interpersonal process focusing on conscious thought and behavior. The goal is to guide offenders toward change by exploring and assessing their values, attitudes, and behaviors. One exercise is to help group members discover for themselves that crime doesn’t pay by having them make out an inventory of their estimated criminal gains obtained for the crime(s) for which they are doing time. Divide the monetary gains from crime by the amount of time spent in prison. Then calculate the possible gains the offenders would have if they had spent their prison time in noncriminal activity. Another exercise is to encourage the offenders to compile a list of feelings they think their victims may have experienced as a consequence of their crime. Difficult group members may include the resister, the “expert,” the monopolizer, the withdrawn member, and the masochist and the sadist. Advantages and disadvantages of group counseling are listed. 21 references, 2 figures