Way out West – reflections from WA

It is great to be back

When you have the privilege of working with the same team of people over a period of several years, you see practice shifts and change in exciting ways.  This has been our experience in working for the past five years with Department of Corrective Services facilitation staff from throughout Western Australia.  Each time we come back we are able to increase depth of practice, by building upon the foundations have been laid previously. This trip has been notable for several  reasons which I will outline below.

  1. Our HMA designed stopping violence programme is being adapted for an indigenous population throughout WA.  Ensuring that cultural metaphor, contemporary issues, and historical factors are woven alongside evidence-based practice, makes for a strong intervention.  It was great to see sensitivity to all of the issues that make this a complex assignment.
  2. Nev Trainor and myself also had the privilege of running a training session with the prison board (parole board).  This was well received and important in supporting the initiatives around programme implementation and training.  The prison board in WA rely very much on written documentation of the progress that people who offended, have made through programme attendance. We were able to discuss contemporary theory and approaches to offender rehabilitation.
  3. Case formulation is a critical skill set for being able to accurately assess which programmes are best suited for which person.  This course based upon an Adapted Case Formulation Model (Trainor & McMaster, 2011) is very hands-on and utilises a case study approach to understanding the drivers behind offending behaviour.
  4. Supporting offenders in change work, has always been one of my favourite courses to deliver. It has been my contention for a long time that we put too much emphasis on what happens in programmes for a result, and not enough upon, firstly, readiness to change, secondly, supporting change while the person is attending a group intervention, and thirdly, providing meaningful integration and consolidation of relapse prevention planing post-prison.
  5. Advanced group work for offenders with personality disorders, is a new two-day module that we have put together specifically for this trip. It has been known for a long time that more complex offenders are likely to express behaviours and have elevated scores on assessment instruments around the four main domains (psychopathy, narcissism, borderline, antisocial personality). These very same presentations create real challenges for effective intervention within programmes.
  6. Working with family violence, is a three day course that explores the myriad of  pathways into abusive practice within the families, the overlaps with general offending and as well as what makes a very different. It also covers working with  resistance to the normalisation of family violence (we all know it has been widely  accepted as okay behaviour for centuries).  The course also explores effective processes in managing what we are terming, ‘abusive practices thinking’ along with practices of building a social and emotional responsivity in the men who present. This requires the development of empathy skills that are at the heart of well functioning intimate relationships.
  7. Group facilitation skills for working with offenders, is a five-day course that covers adult learning principles for engaging in purposeful work with offenders.  It is easy to forget that many offenders have had unpleasant and punishing experiences throughout their education years.  Finding engaging and creative way to explore difficult issues, is the basis of effective intervention.

So as you can see it has been a busy, challenging, and hugely rewarding time for us here out West in WA.

 

 

Published on Sunday, September 23rd, 2012, under Learning & development, What Ken thinks

One Response to “Way out West – reflections from WA”

  1. Pauline Mountfort says:

    Hi Ken

    You may remember me, Pauline Mountfort. My connections with you were first with the Department for Courts in NZ with Facilitator Training for the Departments Restorative Justice Programme. I am now based in Victoria. It is great to read your news about working for the Department for Corrective Services in Western Australia. There are major needs and it is wonderful to think you are supporting folk involved withthe indiginous people in this part of the world. Best of luck.

    Pauline Mountfort

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