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Probation and Parole: Understanding Goals, Treatments, Theories and Techniques

Recognizing the two primary goals of probation and parole

1. Recognize the two primary goals of probation and parole (P/P).
2. Understand modes of treatment in P/P.
3. Learn about theory.
4. Know the three basic theoretical models for treatment in P/P.

5 Understand the importance of the unconscious in psychoanalytic theory.
6. Learn the three stages of psychological development through which a person passes.
7. Recognize types of deviant behavior that can be traced to stages of development.
8. Learn the three psychic phenomena that develop during the stages of psychological development.
9. Understand why the superego is so important.

10. Know the methods of social casework.

11. Understand motivational interviewing.

12. Understand the behaviorist view of antisocial behavior.

13. Know why operant conditioning is difficult to apply in P/P.

14. Understand what is meant by cognitive behavior therapy.

15. Learn how aversive therapy is used in treatment.

16. Know the goal of reality therapy.

17. Learn the advantages of group work.

18. Recognize what neutralization explains about delinquents.

19. Learn the basic view of differential association.

20. Recognize what neutralization explains about delinquents.

21. Understand what is meant by differential opportunity.

22. Learn when according to social control theory delinquency results.

23. Appreciate the impact of labeling theory.

24. Learn what the theory of drift says about juvenile delinquents.

The focus of assessment on the gathering and interpretation of information

Assessment determines the nature of the client’s

Current situation: strengths and resources

Client interviews provide the basis for a relationship between the client and P/P officer (PPO)

PPOs should treat clients with respect and understand clients may have a negative attitude and resist the caseworker’s efforts

To lessen resistance, workers may discuss the client’s feelings about being on probation or parole

Transference and countertransference

Caseworkers prepare a social assessment or social history of the client

background information on how the client adjusted to prior challenges Planning

Planning phase converts the assessment into a goal statement

Nature of the problems and goals sought by the client

Nature of the person

Nature and purpose of the agency and kind of help it can offer or make available

In P/P the plan provides a basis for holding the offender accountable for his or her efforts toward achieving a productive and law-abiding lifestyle

The action phase involves activity designed to bring about change in a systematic way


In P/P it may be limited by statue or agency regulation

Social caseworkers in a correctional setting must require clients to keep appointments, provide personal information, and pay fees

The plan should aid the offender in being successful on probation and parole and in society

Three basic techniques: change the environment, ego support, and clarification

Effecting a change in the environment may involve obtaining needed resources

Increasing offender employment, expanding offender social support system, and facilitating access to programming

PPO should act as a advocate and intervene on behalf of clients

Should try to promote independence on the part of the client

Ego support can be carried out by expressions of interest, sympathy, and confidence by the P/PO

Especially important to teach the client how to appropriately deal with problems

PPO may also be supportive of the client’s family, parents, or spouse

Clarification is sometimes called counseling

Includes providing information that will help the client see what steps should be taken in various situations

PPO may ask questions and make suggestions designed to help the client think through the problem and deal with it in a realistic manner

Motivational interviewing helps people explore and resolve ambivalence about changing specific, maladaptive behaviors

Particularly useful when working with resistive offenders

MI five basic principles:

  • Express empathy
  • Avoid argument and direct confrontation
  • Roll with resistance
  • Develop discrepancy
  • Support self-efficacy
  • Emphasizes respect, optimism, and choice and does not take on a confrontational approach

Behavior modification concludes behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences

Operational conditioning

  • Behavior can be modified by using reinforcers
  • Positive or negative reinforcement
  • Clients need to become self-aware of their own reinforcers 

Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT= believing, thinking, and expecting

Idea that defective thinking can cause emotional and behavioral disorders

Offender lacks social competence to respond appropriately

CBT uses role play, graduated rehearsal, and practice to change the thinking which leads to behavior

  • Emphasizes problem-solving
  • Cognitive skills training (CST)

Reality Therapy

  • Reality therapy (RT) attempts to teach people a better way of fulfilling their needs and taking responsibility for themselves and their behavior
  • P/P use it because of its simplicity
  • RT firmly rejects irresponsible behavior and helps the client act responsibility
  • PPO must understand the client’s reality
  • PPO must not use punishment
  • RT is symptoms oriented and requires clients to evaluate their actions

Contracts and plans

  • Choice therapy

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