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December 12, 2016 at 9:03 am Reply
We appreciate your comments about your use of CBT and homework. We are finding more and more departments following the four point structured checklist which includes the assignment and review of homework. The need for this is even more pronounced when trying to reach dosage targets. In fact, we are in the process of coming up with new ways individuals can continue learning when they are not in a CBT class. Stay tuned….December 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm Reply
It has been a while yet I am back to report on the Carey Homework facilitation. This group has been accepted by our treatment courts to enhance CBT groups such as MRT, T4C and Moving On. There are three groups run each week with the list of the subject matter posted in our lobby. The groups are staggered to assist participants in attending three times. Hours of this group are counted towards dosage hours required in the treatment court model we have designed. There are two tracks of participation based on the risk principle.
Feedback from facilitators and participants has been very positive. A very popular exercise is writing a letter to the “victim”. The honesty that is shared in the writing of the last group of 8 was phenomenal. Every writing went on to the second page. Obvious reflection and remorse in the reports.
We do have the most recent Carey Homework guides thanks to a grant one of our community partners shared. We are implementing this group in our jail pod programming too.
I would recommend the practice of making this a group activity when dosage hours are respected as a guide to treatment efficacy.January 28, 2016 at 2:36 pm Reply
I never considered using the materials in a group setting! Thanks for the idea!November 3, 2015 at 8:34 am Reply
Thanks for your question Becky. As I understand it, a female staff member in your department is currently facilitating a Carey Guide Homework Group (approximately 8 in number) with males and females together with the majority being male. The Group works in this manner: they are given a homework assignment using a Carey Guide and bring their assignment back to the group where they discuss their answers openly. The facilitator keeps it at an educational level and refers everyone to take any issues that might arise to their counselor or suggests a counselor. You also tried a peer run group where the facilitator conducted a check in before, during, and after the group. You indicated that there would be opportunities for the participants to be vulnerable but there have been no complaints and when you ask them to write a confidential paragraph on how the session worked for them the reviews have been positive. You are correct that we recommend that you don’t mix gender in groups where they potentially share vulnerable or sensitive information especially given the percent of female offenders involved in the justice system who have a history of abuse and trauma. This is less of an issue regarding education oriented groups. However, the Carey Guides asks offenders to disclose past experiences, beliefs, and feelings that can induce moments of disclosure. We recognize that the research on mixed gender groups is limited but given the writings of experts on gender informed practices we are of the view that mixing genders in groups like these can be problematic. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t mix gender and get positive results. If you feel the need to mix gender to have enough to fill a group then we urge you to find a facilitator who is gender and trauma sensitive, clear on boundaries, and careful to monitor the group dynamics.
To give you a more comprehensive response we reached out to Dr. Marilyn Van Dieten, Orbis Partners. Given her literature review on this subject she has prepared this summary of the limited research and primary arguments used to support gender specific groups.
Perhaps one of the greatest debates currently raised by professionals working with women in the field of criminal justice is the need to provide “women only” groups. There is some research to suggest that although men may benefit from mixed gender groups, women benefit more from all female groups (Aries, 1976). In all male groups men say little about themselves, their key relationships or their feelings, while women share a great deal about themselves, their feelings and their relationships with lovers, friends, and family. Other reasons for a “women only” group include the following:
- Women are more supportive of one another in all-female groups than in mixed groups due to socialization to compete for male attention.
- Aries found that over time, women expressed a preference for single-gender groups.
- Women and girls who lack a secure sense of self and have histories of abuse by males are even less likely to speak up on taboo topics such as substance abuse and violence when males are present.
- A women-only setting can provide more opportunities for feelings to be explored and validated.
- Safety means freedom from harassment or threat of physical violence.
- Research suggests that men dominate the airspace: talking more than women and interrupting women; women feel more able to question and learn in single sex groups.
- In general, men assume positions of leadership and male styles of leadership are seen as “right”…women-only groups provide women with opportunities to develop leadership skills and explore new ways of working.
- Women-only groups enable them to explore their individual strengths and weaknesses without the risk of “female/male” stereotypes.
So, the bottom line is that we do not recommend mixed gender groups. However, we are not dogmatic about this. If the facilitator is gender informed, observant, and can control the group dynamics; and if you are using assessment techniques to ensure that the group is getting their needs met then you are probably fine. But, because things can go awry for the reasons noted above we don’t encourage this practice.February 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm Reply
Good evening La Crosse!
Homework groups – what an interesting idea! Are you asking for thoughts around mixed gender groups? As you may know, most evidence relative to group work strongly supports gender specific groups. Wisconsin Community Corrections contracted providers (with a few exceptions) do not mix genders.
I am interested in the concept of a homework group though – please share more about your experiences with this strategy!
Thanks!January 15, 2015 at 6:00 pm Reply
La Crosse County has purchased all of the Carey Homework. We are implementing groups and would like to know thoughts on gender-based Carey Homework groups.
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