The use of self in probation practice Jake Phillips Andrew Fowler ChalenWestaby
Outline • What is self-disclosure? • Methods • Findings • Rapport building • Dealing with/managing own emotion • Pro-social modelling • Boundary setting • Risk assessment • When is SD not used? • Conclusion
What is self-disclosure? • 'verbal statements that reveal something personal about the therapist' (Knox and Hill, 2013: 530) rather than the sharing of information relating to the professional status and qualifications of the social worker (Gibson, 2012). • 'one of the more controversial and misunderstood aspects of social work practice' (Knight, 2012: 297).
Two schools of thought... • The professional should be neutral (Freud) (but presupposed by idea that professionals can choose not to self-disclose) Vs • 'the technique of self-disclosure, the patient may feel the analyst's emotion, without which emotion an authentic analysis is impossible' (Billow, 200,: 62 quoted in Knox and Hill, 2003: 531)
5 realms of SD (Murphy and Ord, 2013) • Appearance - what a practitioner wears and displays on their person. This might also be how they arrange their work space. • Beliefs, attitudes and values presented both explicitly and implicitly by the practitioner. • Behaviour - the conduct of the practitioner which reveals their reactions and indeed lack of reaction which in turn shows their expectations of other. • Feelings - both verbal and non-verbal and the latter occurs through facial expressions and body language. • Experiences- the recollection of positive or negative knowledge, memories and motivation of the practitioner.
7 subtypes (Knox and Hill) • disclosures of fact; • disclosures of feelings; • disclosures of insight; • disclosures of strategy; • disclosures of reassurance or support; • disclosures of challenge; • disclosures of immediacy.
2 forms of SD (Knight 2012) • Self-revealing: here and now - reactions by the practitioner to what is happening during an interaction with the client • Self-involving: there and then - the practitioner describes relevant experiences from their life outside the particular session
Self-disclosure in Criminal Justice • Focus on 'appropriate' • Primarily in context of effectivesupervision of adult offenders in the community, juvenile offenders, and work with drug using offenders and sex offenders. • Quantitative - surveys of how many times a professional self-discloses in a session. Little on form of disclosure or attempt to define. • Seen positively - Trotter: linked use of SD to lower levels of offending but not statistically significant.
SD in CJ • Cannot import counselling/psychotherapy models of SD because they are presupposed by client initiation. • The probation officer - client relationship is formed in a 'coercive atmosphere' (Arcayan) which means we need to have CJ definition of SD
SD in CJ can... • provide ‘an opportunity for the client to voice his/her understanding of the role and responsibilities of the officer... to de-emphasize the social control component of a dual role relationship.’ Bourgon and Guiterrez (2013: 268) • ‘hasten trust and rapport in counsellor-offender relationships’ (Masters 2004) • ‘narrow the distance which the ex-offender has placed between himself and the “establishment” Arcaya (1978: 232) • Thus, perhaps more about legitimacy than reducing reoffending
SD in CJ can... • Make clients self-disclose which is important because 'self-disclosure as the postmodern iteration of the confession'... self-disclosure on the part of clients is seen as a signifier of remorse and a reduction in risk (REF) • Can - help to identify needs but also serves the broader function of criminal justice work: that of risk assessment, management and public protection. • SD in police work: primarily used in suspect interview settings with a view to elicit potentially incriminating evidence from the suspect. • So... self-disclosure is not always authentic or transparent and so cannot automatically be considered therapeutic even if it might be appropriate.
So... • What does SD look like in probation practice? • Why do practitioners use SD? • How do people understand it and what training is required? • What might appropriate SD look like? • What can practitioners' use of SD tell us about probation work more broadly - focusing on the 'dual role' of probation
Methods • interviews with 24 probation practitioners
Rapport Building • B: you have to get along with people and have an understanding of where- it's about honesty, it's about being very honest and having integrity and saying you know "we have to work together at some point you're going to be released you know, I don't want you to get into trouble again and I don't want anybody to be harmed what do you think about that? what do you want?" • A: yeah, yeah • B: And if you can find something, some common ground you can hopefully take it from there. • NPS 7
interesting, definitely seems like a bit of a, yeah contradiction as well to me. You said just before that you've got to show people that you're human, how do you do that? Is that an emotional thing? Or is that something else? • G:erm, yeah, erm, I don't know maybe by all sorts again and depending on the person, what you're talking about, you know like I guess with your, again with your, you know your body language and stuff like that, just simple things and you know over the years you kind of practice it don't ya, you get to learn when somebody's interested and when somebody's not. And also like I think being able to just talk to them about anything and it not always being focussed on work stuff, just being generally just interested in them as a person and how they are, and not, you know and not, but not giving too much away about yourself as well but at the same time letting them know that you know shit does happen to everybody, you know you're not on your own in facing a problem you know. So quit often I'll say like generic things, like you know "you'd be surprised about like workers-in like probation or Together Women- that have maybe experienced something similar to you but you know it's how you deal with it that counts " or do you know just something like generic like that rather than saying "oh yeah I've had that experience too and yeah-" or sometimes it might call for that like to be really open and honest, say if somebody's lost a family member but maybe going "do you know what yeah it was really crappy when my grandma died , too, you know it's horrible and it takes a while to just-" all that type of thing. So again it depends what you're talking about but you know just being careful as well of what your client, not to give too much away about yourself that might put yourself or them at risk. I think you know you've got to give a little bit to get a bit back as well
Authenticity • L: yeah I probably would, I’m probably better at showing them it I think because I think that for me, for me again that’s what’s still encouraging that person and it’s still about, it’s demonstrating my realness as well, do you know I think the one thing with offenders is, if you were in the room with them and you were being fake and you’re not being your genuine self, you’ll get caught out
Convey empathy • A: how would you define empathy? • F: err, well, to err, an understanding of, you know and understanding of that situation and you know maybe err [sigh] I mean maybe try and relay a situation you've been in where it has been awkward or • A: OK yeah • F: difficult to do something, you know and also say you know explain to someone "this is as difficult for me as it is for you, you know I know that I do this for a living but this is not easy for me to ask you these questions and expect you to answer them, you know I have some apprehensions about sitting here and asking you, well what are your fantasies? Why did you commit this offence? You know it can be as difficult for me to ask and to hear what you've got to say as it is for you to thinking about it and verbalise it." • A: yeah. That's really, really interesting because you're kind of talking about how you like disclose your feelings and be honest with someone- why do you think that's helpful?
Levelling • That's really, really interesting because you're kind of talking about how you like disclose your feelings and be honest with someone- why do you think that's helpful? • F: because I think they then see you on some sort of level footing, there's you know, there's not this "he knows everything, he's above me, he's superior, he's gonna judge me, if I say something he's gonna come down on me like a ton of bricks." it's of, well you know "he's also uncomfortable, he feels a bit like how I feel." • A: yeah, yeah • F: you know then that makes people maybe not feel so vulnerable and open to attack or challenge, it then becomes more of a constructive conversation than accusations and interrogation demanding answer you know "why have you done this?" • A: yeah • F: see it becomes a two-way conversation and an exchanging of ideas and then those people that you're interviewing
Pro-social modelling • you know and saying "look, you know you're really upsetting me, you're making me really angry you're saying some really horrible things but I'm not losing my temper with you" and I guess erm batting that back to them if you know what I mean and getting them to see that just because someone's horrible to me, to ya doesn't mean you have to lose your temper and smack them • J: so you don’t show it to you offenders? • L: no • J: no. you keep it totally- • L: I might tell them, occasionally I might [sigh] do you know it might come out like in a sigh or [frustrated sound 17:28] “why have you done that?” or but I would, no I wouldn’t. I suppose because we’re pro social modelling; if I’m losing it, that’s not very good for him is it? That just says oh well if people are frustrated it’s alright to lose it • >> • can apply to all of those. I am quite a laid back person in general, err I always have been, I am quite a calm person- I do get frustrated at times erm, but you know I do find it quite easy just to remain calm and not you know, not mirror their emotions, not become upset or to shout and carry on. you know I think if you talk to people with a, you know on same level of voice but they understand hat just because you're not raising your voice, it doesn't mean that you don't understand why they're frustrated, sooner or later they will drop back down, you know they, you know, they'll bring their emotions under control. You know and I don’t think, I think in all the time that I've worked here, I had one guy throw a box of tissues at me [laughs]
Proxy victim • A: and how would you use that? so why's that important to- • B: I'd sort of give it back to them and say "what do you think about that? because if this is, if your behaviour is having that impact on me what do you think, how do you think it's having impact on other people within your life?" • A: absolutely • B: so I am, sometimes I do take risks in terms of exposing myself in that way I think, not always but on occasion I will do that but that isn't with many people that I work with that I feel that fear it's only occasionally that that happens. • Also about boundary setting - this is inappropriate behaviour for a supervision session
Avoiding self-disclosure • Like for example there's been a recent case I've had where she just goes, she's a long-standing drug user, social services are involved they're on the edge of getting you know the children removed, and you know there's been this cycle and there's part of me that is massively disappointed in her. Really disappointed because I put so much effort in working to her and you know she messed up again last time and got recalled but I didn't wanna, I was mindful not to tell her that because that's what she's got all her life, she's been told she's a disappointment, she's a let-down this that and the other, so I want to keep it positive and productive, whereas there might be somebody else actually that might actually really respond well to saying "do you know know what I do feel disappointed that you've done this." So I'm really conscious about what I show to people to who they are and what their needs are if you know what I mean.
Consequences • you don't want people to think that you're colluding with them really you know or to think that you're their friend
Conclusion • Didn't see much of using SD to make clients SD? Does that tell us that about the culture of probation? That they are not like the police? • Habitus - can see elements of social work practice as well as offence-focus: an example of adaptation.