After reviewing the goals of offender counseling and treatment, this chapter describes the counseling process and discusses the effectiveness of offender counseling and treatment as well as correctional counseling versus psychotherapy.
The primary goal of correctional counselors is to intervene therapeutically with various clients, the majority of whom happen to be offenders. These interventions include prison adjustment, prerelease and postrelease vocational and marital/family readjustment, and work with adolescent adjustment problems. Correctional counseling and psychotherapy consist of a process that includes three essential abilities: a sense of timing (understanding and respecting where the client is in terms of values and perceptions); effective risking (imparting to the client a serious effort to substantially change one's attitude and behavior); and professional humility (accepting that life is not always fair, and that one cannot always win). Correctional counselors are involved in both community-based and institution-based programs for offenders. Their jobs involve both security and treatment issues; probation and parole officers are part of the counseling group. The continuing debate regarding treatment effectiveness creates varied perspectives concerning the professional role of the correctional counselor. Current policy, methodological, economic, and evaluation problems are making it necessary for treatment programs as well as all correctional programs to become increasingly accountable and cost-effective. Although arguments have been offered regarding the differentiation of correctional counseling and psychotherapy along lines of the theory behind the technique, it is often difficult to determine where counseling stops and psychotherapy begins, especially in correction settings, where most treatment practitioners are counselors with M.A. degrees. It is often difficult to distinguish between the two on the basis of clientele, structure, theory, process, and methodology. Key concepts and terms as well as discussion questions are provided.
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