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Criminal rehabilitation using psychotherapy in prisons.

Once a criminal, always a criminal: myth or fact?


The introduction of psychotherapy programs into criminal rehabilitation settings has been vitally documented primarily within only the past few decades. This has contributed insight into a different realm of criminal rehabilitation that has yet to fully be understood by psychologists and jail managers alike.

Estimates run as high as 70% that the majority of inmates released from prison in the US, are convicted of new crimes within five years (McGuire, 2008, p.29). Existential psychotherapy programs suggest an effective means for criminal rehabilitation and for reduction of jail populations.

Effective criminal rehabilitation programs would contribute to notably reduce recidivism rates, consequently, decreasing jail populations. Kramer (1971) suggests that art therapy is ideal for working with aggressive children as aggression is an abundant source of energy for creative activity. The creative process both utilizes and neutralizes the client's pent-up aggression.

By analysing the impact of such programs among children, psychologists are able to develop rehabilitations programs to undertake with adults. When addressing the aggressive aspect of numerous inmates, these latest programs aim high with intent to achieve desired reductions of displayed aggression and potentially the cause of recidivism.

Validation of the previous statements could generate a wide variety of answers from more than one academic discipline. According to Repko (2005), complex issues of this condition necessitate the use of the interdisciplinary approach to be thoroughly explored. Additionally, the discussion concerning the relationship between effective existential psychotherapy approaches and recidivism cannot be fully explained by scholars from one single discipline.

Finally, the debate about whether effective psychotherapy programs can positively influence offender rehabilitation adequately enough to shrink recidivism rates, therefore, reducing jail populations, is cross cultural and addresses a practical societal problem. By meeting these criteria, this topic warrants investigation using the interdisciplinary approach (Repko, 2005, p.88).

Given the broad nature of such a topic, ways in which an existential approach to psychotherapy can affect individuals could be discussed from the vantage point of several disciplines; in fact, most of the published research on the matter is integrative in nature. Disciplines that accurately encompass the entirety of this topic include psychology, sociology, art, economics, socioeconomics and humanities. Most pertinent to this research, however, are the disciplines of psychology, sociology and art.

As a discipline which links behaviour with cognitive processes (Repko, 2005), psychology will provide a context in which to understand the emotional and cognitive nature of who psychotherapy influences. Given the continued rise in prison populations, a premium is placed on identifying efficient, yet effective prison based interventions (Morgan, 2006).

Society is composed of individuals; therefore, to understand the sociological implications of psychotherapy or recidivism, it is first necessary to understand psychotherapy's effect on an individual level. Prison inmates are some of the most maladjusted people in society. Most of the inmates have had too little discipline or too much, come from broken homes, and have no self-esteem (Kennedy, 1984, p.275).

Art as art therapy provides a unique solution for children and adults with special needs or issues, as it addresses many aspects of the individual, including those of cognitive, emotional, and social nature that are hard to address initially separately within that personality (Nissimov-Nahum, 2008, p.1). Through the interdisciplinary process, the separate ideas presented by psychologists, sociologists, and art therapists will synthesize into a new whole, thus resulting in a significantly more comprehensive analysis.

Despite being such a prolific form of treatment, psychotherapy's ability to cognitively and behaviourally affect the mind is remarkably essential. Methods of research for this discussion will comprise of exploratory research, which structures and identifies new problems, constructive research, which develops solutions to a problem, and empirical research, which tests the feasibility of a solution using empirical evidence.

Another method will be to study the results of experiments done by scientists and to perform statistical analyses. The purpose of this paper is to place a premium on identifying efficient, yet effective prison based interventions. Doing so will result in a hope of dissipating the problem until there is a more detailed understanding of an effective means for criminal rehabilitation and for reduction of jail populations.


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