Things To Keep In Mind In Our Professional Relationships With Inmates Essay


Things To Keep In Mind In Our Professional Relationships With Inmates

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  • What are the signs of emotional involvement?
  • Difficulty in applying rules and regulation of treatment uniformly
  • Justification or rationalization of the clients behavior and own reaction or interpretations
  • Difficulty in differentiating between personal and professional opinion
  • Editing of communication or interaction to simply protect the feelings of the client
  • Use of professional resources for the personal interests of the client
  • Use of personal and professional privileges to traffic or conceal prohibited materials into the correction facilities or to mitigate access to the m by the client
  • Acting in any manner that deters treatment, rehabilitation and correction
  • How does one avoid emotional involvement?
  • There should be focus on the role of the counselor in therapy and treatment - Things To Keep In Mind In Our Professional Relationships With Inmates Essay introduction? This means:
  • Establish boundaries of intimacy
  • Inhibit one’s self from the case or request for re-assignment if needed
  • Acting based on professional standards, enforcing judicial and criminal justice ruling, providing mental, psychiatric care and counseling
  • Acts as an agent of rehabilitation and social productivity, responsibly assessing capacity and deterring the reinforcement or tolerance of behavior leading to criminal behavior
  • Avoids biases, preconceived notions and personal interests that affect therapy or interactions with client. This means:
  • Personal experiences or beliefs should not create biases, preconceived notions and personal interests that influence therapy, interaction or evaluation of the client
  • No assumption should be made about prognosis or any other progress factor in therapy
  • Reservations and personal beliefs should not be made evident to client
  • No qualifications based on race, gender, social level or ethnicity can be used as a determinant of the client or his performance in therapy
  • Safeguards to emotionally involved?
  • Maintain professional consultation with other therapists to evaluate level of professionalism
  • Maintain comprehensive information  about the client’s progress to therapy that can be reviewed and assessed by other professionals
  • Inhibit one’s self from the case or request for re-assignment if needed
  • Remember, that failure to follow professional standards is not just about one person being unable to fulfill professional requirements. This can also compromise the safety and work setting of other individual who have to work with inmates. Therefore, this challenge is not just a personal one but ensures that counseling and therapy as a profession and social services remain effective and productive.


Presentation Handout

As you can see from the material handed out, the principles involve do not differ from the standard professional practices prescribed. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2005) reflects, that application of the principles discussed in prison settings can be difficult because of social conditioning and the context of therapy and intervention. What is expected from a counselor or therapist working with inmates? Beyond the standards professional decorum that is expected, professionals are expected not just to treat conditions: they have to ensure that they are treated in such a manner that inmates can become productive members of society in the future (Independent Commission Against Corruption, 2000). Holmes (2005) points out that neither therapist or counselors and client-inmates benefit from the failure to maintain professionalism. The former bears the burden of legal sanction when there is evidence of personal involvement and the latter is denied the care that may have been critical in rehabilitation.

According to Holmes (2005), the need for professional perspectives requires that the health, mental or counseling professional limit biases, preconceived notions and personal interests that will distort the evaluation of the client or which would otherwise motivate him to act in a manner that reinforces behavior that is detrimental to rehabilitation and recovery. McIlwain (2005), points out that there are unique challenges regarding this issue in prison settings because of the level of intimacy and lack of other social interactions for both correctional facility workers and inmates therefore, a greater need for vigilance in such a settings. Collaborative and personal relationships can afford counseling and therapy can provide communication channels and intimate insights in treating clients but they should not sacrifice the interest of criminal justice programs. In a nutshell, counselors should empathize with their clients but should caution themselves from sympathizing with their clients. In the case of prison inmates, this becomes even more important because their therapy or treatment is not just a concern for the client but for society as well. However, there is overlying need to maintain professional treatment not just because of ethics but to ensure that clients receive the services they need.




Independent Commission Against Corruption (2000). Department of Corrective Services – Inappropriate Relationships with Inmates (Second Report). Sydney NSW: Independent Commission Against Corruption


Holmes, Dave (2005). Governing the Captives: Forensic Psychiatric Nursing in Corrections. Perspectives In Psychiatric Care 41 (1). pp 3–13.


McIlwain, Gillian (2005). Professional Misconduct Between Non-Custodial Staff and Inmates: A Study of Queensland’s Correctional Centres Institution. Brisbane: Griffith University


National Institute on Drug Abuse (2005). A Community Reinforcement Approach: Treating Cocaine Addiction. Therapy Manuals for Drug Abuse: Manual 2 Retrieved on September 25, 2007 from

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