Offence Paralleling Behaviour: A Case Formulation Approach to Offender Assessment and Intervention

Offence Paralleling Behaviour: A Case Formulation Approach to Offender Assessment and Intervention

Offence Paralleling Behaviour: A Case Formulation Approach to Offender Assessment and Intervention

Offence Paralleling Behaviour: A Case Formulation Approach to Offender Assessment and Intervention


New to the Wiley Series in Forensic Clinical Psychology, Offence Paralleling Behaviour presents an original framework of individualised assessment and treatment methods for clinicians working in the forensic environment.
  • Provides a framework that helps practitioners to identify and work with offence-relevant behaviour and evidence pro-social change
  • Describes how Offence Paralleling Behaviour (OPB) can be successfully identified and used in risk assessment and treatment planning
  • Brings together leading academics and frontline clinicians, including psychiatric nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, drug and alcohol specialists, and correctional officers, as well as featuring the views of prisoners on OPB
  • Presents methods which allow staff to identify and use OPB in clinical practice


Stephen D. Hart Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada

Welcome to the next big thing in violence risk assessment: formulation!

Over the last 10 years, I have repeatedly expressed my concerns – that is, whinged – about what I perceive as a lack of innovation in the area of violence risk assessment. For example, in an address to the European Association of Psychology and Law in Belgium, I noted that after two decades of important advances, research on violence risk was in a ‘conceptual rut’ (Hart, 2003, p. 225). My primary concern was dominance of the predictionist approach to studying violence, including the near-exclusive use of quantitative analytic methods:

[C]orrelational analysis, logistic regression analysis, Receiver Operating Characteristic anal
ysis, event history (survival) analysis – all of these tools, and the predictionist view of the
universe they reflect, assume that the outcome is a simple binary or continuous variable that
can be evaluated with perfect accuracy. None was designed to deal with an outcome like
violence, which is clearly multidimensional and whose measurement is influenced by various
forms of bias or error. Also, most of the tools ignore time. They were intended to account con
temporaneously for variance in one measure using another, not to make ‘predictions’ about
dynamic organisms living in dynamic environments. and none of the tools was intended to
handle problems such as violence risk assessment, in which risk factors and the interactions
among them grow, change, or evolve over time; and in which the outcome, violence, may not
be a discrete occurrence but rather a transactional process that itself changes or evolves over
time. (Hart, 2003, pp. 231–32)

One way to escape the conceptual rut, I argued, was to use a new and different analytic approach, and in particular ‘a tool that relies as little as possible on predictions, numbers, and equations; one well suited to the description of complexity, change, and transaction; one that almost anyone can be trained to use’ (Hart, 2003, p. 232). Or, as I put it subsequently (and more succinctly), the future of violence risk assessment and management requires a movement ‘from formulas to formulation’ (Hart, 2008).

While I whinged, others worked. a number of groups around the world have developed or are still developing approaches to case formulation in forensic mental health. For example, in Canada, my colleagues and I applied a decision theory framework in which violence is viewed as a choice, that is, as purposive, goal-directed behaviour intended to achieve one or more goals. According to this perspective, the task of risk assessment is to understand the causal roles played by risk factors with respect to decisions to engage in violence (i.e. motivators, disinhibitors and destabilizers), and the task of risk management is to determine effective . . .

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