Good Working With Involuntary Clients – Module 7 Essay Example
Dealing with involuntary clients is one of the biggest challenges to a probation officer. These clients are individuals who do not look for help voluntarily and are likely to exhibit resistance in cooperating with their probation program. The burden is upon the probation officer on how to motivate involuntary clients towards change and teach them how to adapt a more responsible and socially acceptable behavior to reduce the incidence of committing repeated offense and delinquency. The family members are viewed to play a crucial role in helping produce better outcomes in the rehabilitation process of involuntary clients. This paper will review some literatures regarding the involvement of family members of involuntary clients to their probation, and to help identify which circumstances the group or family rehabilitation will yield better outcomes and when it is not in the best interest of the involuntary client.
Probation officers take a significant role in preventing crime delinquencies and repeated offending behaviors among those who are under probation. The main objective of a probation officer is to assist an offender who is under probation to grow productively without endangering the community (US Department of Justice, 1993). The approaches used by a probation officer in dealing with involuntary clients involve either direct or indirect supervision or both. Some officers manage involuntary clients directly under their care while others may need a broader scope of management, such as providing assistance to the involuntary client while involving the offender’s family members or the community. What makes the involvement of the family members important in the rehabilitation of the involuntary client is the strong and significant influence that family members have to the offender. The optimal relationship for a probation officer to have with an involuntary client the his family is the establishment of a trusting relationship. Involuntary clients tend to show resistance to rehabilitation. The involvement of his family may help reduce the adamant resistance of the involuntary client, especially when the probation officer is able to show genuine concern for helping the offender by engaging the help of family members whose support and encouragement is important for the productive recovery of the offender.
An involuntary client is one who does not seek help on his or her own, and is likely to be skeptical on the help extended by a probation officer. The participation of family members can change the perception of an involuntary client and will likely cooperate in the rehabilitation process through the encouragement of family members and with the assistance of a probation officer. It is crucial for the probation officer to express empathy and commitment in helping the offender. With a good communication skill, the probation officer can easily share the objectives of the probation program to the offender and his family members. Newhill (2003) noted that building an empathic and trusting relationship can help reduce resistance and skepticism among violent offenders.
Trotter (2006) noted, however, that working with family members is more appropriate under certain circumstances than others. It will be difficult for a probation officer to engage family members to become involved when any one of them is the root cause of the offender’s problem. Conflicting circumstances may arise that can make the role of a probation officer more difficult, such as when both the perpetrator and the victim belong to the same family. The involvement of family members in the probation process is more appropriate when the family members have strong influence in changing the offender’s behavior and that not any family member played a role in the development of the involuntary client’s offending behavior. Otherwise, family clash can occur and it can have a disastrous consequence on the probation rehabilitation outcomes.
The role of family members in the rehabilitation process is crucial because their participation, cooperation and presence help reduce the risks of self harm by the offender and it eases the pain of the stigma of being imprisoned. Family support and family ties in particular are significantly important in the establishment of the offender’s stability both emotionally and mentally (MacNeill, Raynor and Trotter, 2012). The experience of imprisonment can mark as a traumatic experience for both the involuntary client and his family members. It is more appropriate to involve both parties in the rehabilitation process to optimize the outcomes of the intervention process. Probation officers must be consistent in providing assistance for recovery not only for the offender, but also to his family members who are just as devastated as the involuntary client. The process will create a more supportive environment to the offender and his family will likely show more respect and understanding to the offender and provide an encouraging environment for rehabilitation.
The majority of involuntary clients prefers to work with people whom they trust. Probation officers are often treated as a stranger by involuntary clients and the latter are likely to become less cooperative. In order to obtain the trust of the involuntary client, probation officers need the help of the offender’s family members to convince him on the genuine concern to assist him or her to recover from an offending behavior and become more productive and useful to the community. One of the principles of effective practice in probation is choosing between working individually or by group. In involuntary clients who show disengagement in the rehabilitation process, working individually where only the probation officer and the involuntary client relationship is established may not be appropriate. A group rehabilitation may be more effective where the probation process involves the probation officer, involuntary client and his family members. Using the help of family members will help the probation officer in motivating the involuntary client to participate and cooperate. The creation of a more trusting relationship between the probation officer and the offender and his family members can have a significant impact on the positive outcomes of the involuntary client’s rehabilitation success. The ability of the involuntary client to trust the probation officer allows them to become more open in the change process. The personal engagement between the probation officer and the offender’s family members can produce a significant turning point for the offender. Allowing the family members to participate in the planning process on how to rehabilitate the offender will establish a stronger foundation in helping bring change to an involuntary client. Family members will likewise become stakeholders by participating in restorative justice during the process (Umbreit, 2000).
While the involvement of family members produce positive outcomes in the rehabilitation process of an offender, there are some downsides and implications whenever the problem of the offender involves the family members themselves. Working with family members who are not too close to the offender or hardly interact with the involuntary client may not produce the desired outcome of probation. The same implication may arise when one of the family members is in conflict with the involuntary client. This will only have a clashing result with the consequent feeling of distrust by the offender. While the mediation approach in rehabilitation is effective, it is important for a probation officer to take precautions when employing this approach when there is an existing conflict between the involuntary client and family members.
In conclusion, the role of family members can produce positive and negative effects on the implementation of restorative justice among the probationers. The probation officers should take precautions in assessing whether the involvement of family members in the rehabilitation of involuntary clients will yield positive results. Family members take a crucial role in influencing the behavior of the involuntary client and in motivating him or her to change. They can help probation officers establish a more trusting relationship that can help them open up and become more responsive to the assistance given by the officer. However, the presence and participation of the family members in the rehabilitation process, under certain circumstances, may result in negative consequences to the involuntary client. Building a trusting relationship is the key in mitigating the risk of resistance among involuntary clients to cooperate with their probation program, but this is difficult to achieve them the family members causes the problems of the offender. Therefore, the probation officer should be prudent enough when assessing the circumstances, whether the involvement of family members is more beneficial to the rehabilitation of the involuntary client or not.
MacNeill, F., Raynor, P. and Trotter, C. (2012). Offender supervision: New directions in theory, research and practice. New York: Routledge.
Newhill, C.E. (2003). Client violence in social work practice: Prevention, intervention and research. New York: Guilford Press.
Trotter, C. (2006). Working with involuntary clients: A guide to practice (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Corwin Press.
Umbreit, M.S. (2000). Family group conferencing: Implications for crime victims. Minessotta: University of Minessotta.
US Department of Justice (1993). Desktop guide to good juvenile probation practice. New York: Diane Publishing.
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