Group therapy proposal: Helping parolees succeed

When an individual is released from prison and placed on parole, the goal is to ensure that they are successfully reintegrated into society and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. However, without much preparation the parolee is taken from a structured environment and placed back into a society filled with temptations and possible complications. Upon release from prison, if an individual is not prepared to secure a job and be self-supporting their return to prison is very likely. Without a practical means of supporting oneself, a sense of worth cannot be restored and life is without dignity. Parolees may also face discrimination due to the stigma of being incarcerated.

This discrimination could have an effect on their psychological well-being and impact their ability to reintegrate into society or have the self-worth needed to abide by the rules set forth by their parole. Many parolees are released into a parole system that provides few services and imposes conditions that almost guarantee their failure.

According to statistics compiled by the Administrative Office of the Courts in Washington D.C., of the 262,000 federal prisoners that were released from federal prison between the years 2002-2006, 50% of those who could not secure employment committed a new crime or violated the terms of their release and were sent back to prison. However, 93% of those who were able to secure employment were able to successfully reintegrate back into society and not return to prison (The United States Department of Justice). In a study that looked at recidivism in over 40 states, more than four in 10 offenders returned to state prison within three years of their release (The National Reentry Resource Center, 2013).

GROUP THERAPY PROPOSAL 3 The proposed group will address many of the problems parolees face that cause a high rate of return to prison. It is not just a support group, it also acts an advocacy program; providing parolees with job referrals, assistance with education, housing referrals, referrals for substance abuse and recovery services, and most importantly pairs the parolee with a mentor whose goal is to help them make a successful transition back into society.

By providing referrals, peer support, and mentoring the group will provide the parolee with a plan that will allow them to develop their social skills, regain acceptance into society, and aid them in the deinstitutionalization process. Organization and Structure

The proposed group is offered as an alternative to reoffending and returning to prison, as well as to provide assistance to parolees in need of employment assistance, education assistance, housing assistance, substance abuse counseling, a mentoring program, and other related programs. Groups have many organizational aspects. Parolees who are members of a group are more likely to succeed than if they were on their own.

Gender is a defining category for parolees in need of assistance. In prisons, population is segregated by gender. The proposed group will have an emphasis on gender-specific issues, allowing the members the choice of a co-ed group or a gender-specific group. Each of the groups will be familiar with the differences in psychosocial issues, as well as the differences relating to their overall experiences during their prison term. The group will not have limitations on age, ethnicity, education levels, religious preferences, etc. One of the overall goals is to

GROUP THERAPY PROPOSAL 4 ensure that the parolees are able to reintegrate into society, since society has no limits on demographics the group members will be representative of the norm. The demographics will change over time, as a result of the steady flow of parolees through the open group. Recruitment for this group will be achieved by flyers handed out at parole offices, half-way houses, homeless shelters, and through the most valuable form of advertisement, word of mouth. The group’s primary focus will be on newly paroled individuals, but will not turn any parolee away in need of assistance.

One of the group’s main objectives is for the parolees to take responsibility for their own lives and to develop self-respect and confidence, in order to do that the group will have to provide a safe place for any parolee regardless of where they are in their transition. When working with this population of individuals there will always be a possibility of obstacles and roadblocks. It is how the group responds to these obstacles that will decide the success or failure of not only the individuals, but of the group as a whole.

One of the potential obstacles would be a lack of cohesiveness within the group. If the group members are unable to bond, they may lose their desire to be a part of the group. If cohesiveness becomes an obstacle, the members will be given the option to remove themselves and join a group at a different time, or the group as well as its leader will work with the members in finding a way to work together so that the group as a whole can meet their desired goals.

Another possible obstacle would be for a member or members of the group to not adhere to the acceptable standards of behavior within the group. Group norms set forth the boundaries for what is acceptable and unacceptable within the group. It will be encouraged for each group to set forth their own set of norms. By allowing

GROUP THERAPY PROPOSAL 5 the group to set their own norms, it will allow each individual the opportunity to show their commitment to the group. The majority of the group must agree with the norms that are set forth. The likelihood that a member will violate a norm from time to time is high, and will be understood; however, if a member chooses to disregard the norms completely he/she may be asked to leave the group as to not jeopardize the success of the group as a whole.

Maintaining an appropriate number of members in each group will also be of concern. Groups of five to twelve members would give each member ample opportunity to participate; however, groups that exceed twelve members could significantly slow down the progress of the group. Groups with too many members may make it hard for members to establish cohesion. Group Goals

The primary focus of the group will be to alter the beliefs and lifestyles of the parolees by giving them the necessary tools to take responsibility for their own problems, and to develop self-respect and the confidence they need to successfully return to society. The groups approach will aid in teaching self accountability, but it will also stress the importance of a group effort in overcoming possible roadblocks that may be encountered.

The more specific goals of the group will be (1) cessation of any criminal behavior, (2) finding stable employment or school enrollment, (3) abstinence from substance abuse if applicable, (4) pairing each parolee with a mentor, (5) housing assistance if needed, and (6) a successful social transition. Each group session will have a topic set forth at the beginning of the session, topics could include; dealing with your emotions, family dynamics, living with

GROUP THERAPY PROPOSAL 6 addiction, improving lifestyle choices, overall fears, improving socialization skills, difficulties finding employment, short-term goals, etc. Success