Knowing the Prisoner and Knowing Oneself: the Bases for the Convict-Counselor Relationship
Schwarz-Hirschhorn, Deborah Laura
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One of the difficult challenges to the helping professions is the high rate of crime and recidivism. Can prison counselors meet this challenge by establishing good relationships with their clients? An investigation of primary and secondary source material illuminated this question. A counselor who is familiar with the problems in drawing inferences from crime statistics, aware of the kinds and proportions of crimes that occur, and examines the inmate population without preconceived stereotypes will be open to the uniqueness and humanness of his clients behind bars. In spite of these efforts, a beneficial relationship will be hampered if the helper holds beliefs which negate the humanity of the client, for beliefs have a way of making themselves felt through behavior; thus, honest self-examination is another prerequisite for a constructive relationship. Finally, research has uncovered techniques which enable counselor to translate these attitudes into behavior. In order to successfully apply these findings it is recommended that a more comprehensive study of the role of the counselor within the criminal justice system be undertaken, efforts be made to behaviorally define beneficial penal interactions, the number of helpers be increased, and follow-up studies be done on released helpees.
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