To instill positive change in the probation clients’ behavior is just one of the goals of probation. Probation clients, however, might have hardened due to various circumstances in their lives making them less receptive to change. What can a probation officer do overcome this obstacle when the clients are not cooperating to accomplish the objective of the process?
Paul Ventura and Michelle Hart both have worked for a significant time in the field of probation and they’re back as our resource speaker to deep-dive into the importance of building rapport with probation clients.
Paul has a prolific career as a Probation Officer, currently with the Yavapai County. He has supervised intensive, standard, interstate, and sex offenders. Meanwhile, Michelle is currently the Deputy Chief Probation Officer for Coconino County working with both juvenile and adult offenders for the intensive probation unit, as well as domestic violence and sex offenders.
Some of the points that Michelle and Paul addressed in this webinar revolved around:
- Considering and understanding what it feels for the individuals being in the criminal justice system.
- Three questions to reflect on when dealing with clients that ensure they feel safe, respected and not subject to pressure.
- The old-school probation techniques that impose the probation officer's authority, strict rules, the need for immediate change or suffer the consequences, and does not take into consideration the personal connection aspect.
- How the field of probation revolutionized their approach by acknowledging that change doesn't happen overnight and individuals have different goals and learning curves.
- Techniques to make probation more effective by building relationships with clients, aligning probation objectives with their personal goals, developing a partnership, and providing support where needed.
- The new collaboration-centered approach to probation that incorporates the elements of trust, inspiration, exchange, assist, support, success, share, and teamwork.
- Exhibiting emotional support by showing empathy and expressing that they’re worth the time and effort.
- Providing practical support by equipping them with the skills and resources that they'll need in the real world to improve their relationships and life.
Best practices for balancing accountability and social support through:
- Building trust from the first contact to establish rapport.
- Role modeling where you show them the behavior expected from them.
- Role clarification to set boundaries and build healthy relationships with the people they’ll work with under probation.
- Providing support and encouragement throughout the process.
- Following through to establish the importance of accountability onto them.
- A role play where Paul and Michelle demonstrated how to build rapport on the first contact.
Paul and Michelle shed light on the participant’s concerns answering questions about:
- Persevering to assist otherwise difficult clients to open up and tell you their personal goals.
- Providing support to a client who feels that the justice system is working against them by explaining everyone’s roles and objectives.
- Persuading them to make the needed change by appealing to their motivation, goals, aspirations, and morale.
- Establishing authority to a really problematic client by exhausting the appropriate sanctions depending on the gravity of the negative behavior or violation of condition, and utilizing positive reinforcement to influence behavior.
- The six-day sanction period and the need to be mindful when it comes to giving jail time as sanctions.
- Managing time with clients and dealing with probation officers’ caseload.
- Working with clients with mental health issues by collaborating with their treatment providers.
- Other available sanctions outside of jail time/incarceration such as community service, curfews, weekly schedules, and reports.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar: