Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Humanistic Correctional Programming: A Test of Self-Actualization in a Correctional Cognitive Behavioral Program in the United States

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Humanistic Correctional Programming: A Test of Self-Actualization in a Correctional Cognitive Behavioral Program in the United States

Article excerpt

Introduction

The issue of rehabilitative treatment for prisoners has been a much debated issue within society since the inception of the prison. In 2010, 708,677 prisoners were released nationwide from United States prisons (Guerino, Harrison, & Sabol, 2011) many of whom, often due to budgetary restrictions, may have received little or no rehabilitative programming. This is unfortunate, as it has been observed that during periods of incarceration many prisoners develop a yearning for meaning in an attempt to understand and resolve their dissatisfaction with life and may be susceptible to rehabilitative programming (Lofland & Stark, 1965). As a result criminal justice agencies and administrators are under increased budgetary pressures to implement cost effective evidence based rehabilitative programming.

Cognitive behavioral counseling has been described as possibly the most promising rehabilitative treatment for criminals (Andrews & Bonta, 2006; Lipsey, Landenberger, & Wilson, 2007). Cognitive behavioral programming in correctional settings has received an abundance of academic attention during the last two decades. Cognitive behavioral programs (CBPs) are often based upon scientific theory (cognitive, behavioral, and/or learning), which frequently emphasize "active learning" (Andrews & Bonta, 2006). As noted by Mcquire (1996) "there is no single cognitive-behavioral method or theory. Work of this kind is best thought of as a 'family' or collection of methods rather than any single technique easily and clearly distinguished from others" (p. 7). As such the notion of CBPs have come to be used as an umbrella term to identify a wide assortment of rehabilitative programming which concentrate on the cognitive aspects of criminality. Wilson, Allen-Bouffard, & Mackenzie, (2005) observe that all "effective" CBPs consist of an "emphasis on demonstrable, behavioral outcomes achieved primarily through changes in the way an individual perceives, reflects upon, and, in general, thinks about their life circumstances" (p. 173).

The current research is intended to measure self-actualization levels in a sample of prisoners participating in Freedom-101 (F-101) a CBP currently implemented in numerous county jails and prisons in the mid-western United States (U.S.). This paper will begin with a brief a discussion of humanistic psychology and self-actualization, a description of what CBPs are and how they work, a review of previous literature concerning CBPs, followed by the implementation of a three test methodology, pre-test, post-test, and follow-up, measuring self-actualization levels in a sample of prisoners participating in F-101, concluding with a discussion of the findings and suggestions for future research.

Humanistic Correctional Programming

Central to humanistic counseling is the belief that all persons are unique in their potential to grow and evolve while emphasizing the notion that people are inherently good and hold vast amounts of potential (Liebert & Spiegler, 1994). Toch (1997) argues that corrections practitioners should focus on "personal growth [and/or] constructive change" in prisoners (p. 97). Humanistic counseling attempts to guide the client to identify personal strong suits and to expand upon them. In doing so the counselor focuses on the present behavior, what the client is doing as opposed to why they are doing it; the focus is on teaching clients that their current actions have consequences (Lester & Van Voorhis, 2007).

At the heart of humanistic counseling are three core principals; involvement, rejection of irresponsible behavior, and teaching. Involvement consists of establishing a relationship with the participants; this relationship must involve the counselor as being a caring sensitive role model, who is tough, interested in the clients struggle, not aloof, and should share personal struggles. Rejection of irresponsible behaviors involves the counselor rejecting unrealistic or irresponsible behavior while accepting the participant as a person. …

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