evaluating the specific challenges and issues that might be faced by a prison plannin

EMA structure
Student notes

Task: Produce a report

Write a report that evaluates the specific challenges and issues that might be faced by a prison planning to implement a therapeutic service (as described in the hypothetical scenario provided below). Your report should be suitable for reading by a non-academic audience.

Word limit: 3000 words


Your report should be based on the following scenario:

Imagine that you are a psychological consultant who has been contacted by a local prison. The governor of the prison wants to implement a therapeutic service and offer the prisoners therapy.

The prison is a young offender’s institute for long-term sentenced males who have been convicted of serious offences and are aged between 17 and 21. The prison is a long-term young offender institution, holding the longest sentenced young adult males in the English prison system. A number of the inmates come from low socio-economic backgrounds and some were sexually abused when they were children. A recent inspection of the prison reported that there were high levels of violence and self-harm by the inmates and it was suggested that a number of the prisoners would benefit from receiving therapy.

The governor has requested a report on the issues that need to be taken into consideration in setting up the therapeutic service. The report should:

provide the benefits of offering therapy and also present any drawbacks and potential challenges that may be associated with offering therapy in a forensic setting
suggest what types of therapy might be appropriate to offer to young offenders. For example, attachment therapy, CBT, systemic therapy and mindfulness, including why a particular form of therapy might be beneficial. Also what drawbacks might be associated with all of the considered therapeutic approaches
discuss why young offenders may not respond to therapy, how to help those who self-harm and how to deal with victims of sexual abuse
include general suggestions and recommendations for the governor rather than specific guidance on how the therapeutic service should be set up in this prison.

The report should use a report structure, so you will need to format it under several headings and subheadings. You should begin with a brief summary in which you sum up the whole report and the recommendations you came up with for the governor of the prison. The next section is a very brief introduction informing the reader of the situation. This should be followed by several discussion sections, and it is up to you to decide what exactly you feel should be covered here to inform the governor and underpin your recommendations. You could, for example, include sections on types of services (e.g. individual/group therapy, therapeutic community) and therapeutic approaches available with benefits/challenges of each. You could also cover therapy for specific problems. In these sections you also need to discuss/consider the specific challenges and issues of working therapeutically in a forensic setting (or cover these in a specific section), such as for example risk and risk assessment, confidentiality, self-disclosure and consent. The final section should, based on the evidence you have presented throughout your report, outline the recommendations you have arrived at. There is no need for an additional conclusion section at the end of the report.

The report could be set out as the example below, although you may want to change the names of the headings, and/or include other sections.

Summary: brief summing up of the whole report, including a summary of your recommendations.
Introduction: a fairly brief introduction informing the reader of the situation (not more than two or three sentences).
Possible types of service provision: e.g. discussion of the suitability of individual/group therapy and therapeutic community for the setting described in the scenario.
Therapeutic approaches and their application in the work with male prisoners: discuss the different therapeutic approaches (attachment therapy, CBT, systemic therapy and mindfulness) for therapeutic work with young male prisoners. While all four approaches should be considered, at least to some extent, it is not necessary for all four approaches to be discussed in the same depth. You may, for example, choose to elaborate on the approach(es) you recommend, and the rationale for this selection, and offer only a brief discussion of the approaches that are not recommended.
Therapeutic work with self-harm and sexual abuse: consider some of the issues involved in working with young male prisoners who self-harm and
have been sexually abused.
Recommendations: include your opinion, based on evidence, about what kind of therapeutic service (e.g. individual and group therapy, therapeutic community) and therapeutic approach(es) might be the most effective in the given context. You should also consider the specific challenges that those working in the prison might face if your recommendations are implemented.
Book chapters

You might also find it useful to revise and reference the following book chapters from the textbook.

Chapter 1 Tensions between therapeutic and forensic settings. This chapter discusses the challenges of conducting therapy in forensic settings.

Chapter 6 Gender. This chapter looks at gender and criminality and mental health.

Chapter 7 Age. Pages 95–108 look at age in relation to crime and mental health problems and offer considerations for counselling and forensic practice.

Chapter 9 Sexual assault and abuse. This chapter looks at therapies for survivors of sexual assault.

Chapter 13 Attachment based therapy. This chapter looks at how attachment based counselling can facilitate therapeutic change, particularly in the forensic field.

Chapter 14 CBT. This chapter discusses the challenges that counsellors and forensic psychologists face when implementing CBT in prison settings.

Chapter 15 Systemic therapy. This chapter looks at how systemic approaches can be applied in therapeutic work in forensic mental-health practice settings.

Chapter 16 Mindfulness. This chapter looks at how mindfulness has been applied in the criminal justice system, particularly within a prison context to help prisoners with mental health difficulties, and with rehabilitation. It also looks at how DBT has been developed to help work with behaviour such as self-harm, substance abuse, and abusive relationships, so it is particularly applicable to forensic settings.

Chapter 18 Self harm and suicide. This chapter looks at the psychological interventions in the context of the risk of suicide and self-harm/injury.

Chapter 19 Contexts. This chapter discusses the use of therapy in prisons, especially considering the offence committed, and of adapting therapy to the specific characteristics and needs of the offender.

Chapter 20 Prevention. This chapter looks at how mental health problems and offending behaviour might be prevented.

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