“Feared and Often Forgotten”
Most people associate counseling with the Mental health, Marriage and Family therapy, Substance Abuse, Career, and Educational specializations. The truth is, however, there are an important demographic of individuals who often get excluded from this list and they are the offender population. Let’s face it, most of us don’t wake up excited to work with the Jeffrey Dahmers of society, but it is the elephant in the room that should be addressed none the less. What it means to be a correctional counselor is understanding that within every perpetrator is a victim. At some point in our professional careers, we may be faced with clients who either are or have been incarcerated. These are not your typical cases and require counseling professionals who are equipped to handle the pressures of clients who are often unmotivated and reluctant to change.
What is it?
Correctional Counseling is a form of counseling that focuses primarily on the offender population. It is a service offered to inmates and individuals who are on probation or parole. The goal is to assist offenders with reintegration back into society. It is also used by the courts to determine competence to stand trial. Organizations such as the International Association of Addiction and Offender Counseling (IAAOC) are great resources for professionals who wish to learn more about the role of a correctional counselor.
Why is it Important?
The goal of correctional counseling is aimed at reducing recidivism. This is done by assisting offenders with eliminating criminal behavior while helping them maintain a balance of mental health awareness, positive social interaction and overcoming internal conflicts. By understanding offenders, counselors can help identify some of the problems contributing to their behaviors and help to foster mental health awareness within the criminal justice system.