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Enlightened Witnesses: Providing Trauma-Reducing Interventions to Juvenile Sexual Offenders within a Maximum Security Prison

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Working with adolescents with trauma in their background can be a complex ordeal in any setting. Working therapeutically with traumatized juvenile sexual offenders can also be filled with challenges that require the clinician to be creative in their handling of the client. The clinician must play an active role with the client's larger environment and help the juvenile and their family or caretakers strive for more consistency and gentleness while the young person works through their childhood issues. When the environment in which the therapeutic intervention takes place is also frequented by numerous interruptions, violent possibilities, and chaotic and unpredictable procedures therapeutic interventions can cause even the most seasoned of clinicians to worry that any intervention they apply will be fruitless and a desire to“give up”and return to the safety of private practice. In this article, I will first explore the prison environment and the everyday practices of running such an institution as well as its connection to the individual. I will then take a brief look at the trauma literature and its impact on those juveniles who find themselves in such a setting. Lastly, I will describe therapeutic interventions used to help reduce the traumatic impact of the setting on incarcerated juvenile sexual offenders with histories of trauma in their background.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sexual Offense-Specific Unit, West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth, Industrial, West Virginia, USA

Publication date: 2004-10-01

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