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The process of change in offender rehabilitation programmes

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Whilst the overall effectiveness of offender rehabilitation programmes in reducing recidivism is now well established, there has been less discussion of the reasons why rehabilitation programmes may be unsuccessful for some offenders. In this paper we suggest that models of change developed in counselling and psychotherapy may have utility in explaining how offender rehabilitation programmes bring about change, and argue that the dominance of cognitive–behavioural treatments in the rehabilitation field means that those offenders who have particularly low levels of problem awareness may be at increased risk of treatment failure. Understanding more about the mechanisms by which programmes help offenders to desist from offending is likely to lead to the development of more responsive and, ultimately, more effective programmes. Some suggestions for those involved in the delivery of offender rehabilitation programmes include: being mindful of the sequence of components of programmes, the development of preparation (or readiness) programmes and offering a broad suite of programmes to cater for different stages of problem awareness and assimilation among offenders.

Keywords: Process; offender; rehabilitation; treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Forensic Psychology Research Group, Centre for Applied Psychological Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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