Counseling Female Offenders

Katherine van Wormer

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Counseling Female Offenders

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Gender-specific programming is viewed as essential to effective work with girls and women in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. Gender-specific programming can be defined as treatment that is especially designed to meet the needs of persons based on biological, psychological, and social needs unique to one’s gender. Regarding female offenders, the three strongest arguments for gender specific programming are women’s unique biology, cultural role expectations and vulnerabilities, and gendered pathways into crime. This entry identifies resources that pertain to working with girls and women who are in the criminal justice system, some confined in institutions, others participating in community correctional programs. There are few books and articles specific to social work in this specialized field, and most of the material derives from the criminal justice and feminist literature. Although there is extensive literature on recommended treatment for female offenders, the gap between theory and practice is large. Some of the literature in this entry derives from Canadian and British sources—a fact reflective of the research being done in progressive correctional counseling—and concerns treatment innovations in the system and writings on deficiencies in the treatment. That girls and women in trouble with the law have special needs is a major theme throughout all the literature. Helpful therapeutic strategies that are contained in the listings in this article are restorative justice, transcendental meditation, and strengths-based and trauma-informed practices. Because of the heavy involvement of girls and women with substance use and mental disorders in the criminal justice system, whole sections on these topics are included as well as a section on co-occurring disorders. Where possible, the selected readings contain material related to treatment interventions with female offenders.

Article.  8590 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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