Essay by Susan M. Lemere
Carlos is lucky. Although he was arrested for drug possession, he is not going to jail. Instead, he has struck a deal. He will get probation, drug court, supervision and monitoring with top-notch addiction treatment, giving Carlos the best possible chance to succeed.
This is how Carlos and I meet. I have been hired to run treatment groups for people like Carlos. Although I’m a licensed therapist with many years of experience, I now undergo training in criminal justice-specific, evidence-based group treatment.
The training I receive in how to teach risk reduction skills is straightforward, and the group manual I am to follow is even more so. It contains a script I am expected to read from with specific wording for how to greet group members and how to explain rules and confidentiality. Research shows that if I follow the script and Carlos and his cohorts are sufficiently motivated to learn, they are likely to stay out of further trouble.