Position of strength

Building on offenders’ strengths and using games consoles to do it, is turning lives around, according to a former probation officer.

Einstein’s definition of madness was doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result - and that idea is being used to tackle low self-esteem that drives some offending behaviour.

A pioneering online portal is combining positive psychology and smart technology to connect with chaotic offenders to raise their self-esteem and address the issues causing it.

If traditional learning has failed to make the most of someone’s skills and created low self-esteem, trying the same approach again is just as likely to fail – creating a further cycle of low confidence and offending linked to it.

The Strength Based  Hub (part of the Intervention Hub - www.digitalinterventions), developed by a team of experts from the Red Snapper Group and led by business manager Jonathan Hussey, uses positive psychology to help someone build the confidence to change toxic behaviours such as anger or alcohol misuse.

The former senior probation officer and current probation consultant has seized on the rise of web training resources and devices that can access them remotely.

Work in this area has been patchy because of its reliance on traditional interventions focused on the risk of re-offending.

The National Institute of Health Care Excellence (NICE), have identified that strength-based approaches are beneficial to both individuals and the community. This approach is now common practice within Social Care but it is an emerging practice within the criminal justice sector.

Pressures on the Probation Service caused by funding cuts and reorganisation have an impact on rehabilitation programmes and it shows in the Ministry of Justice official data.

The adult reoffending rate has remained at around 28%. For adults who served a prison sentence of less than 12 months, the reoffending rate is 64.4%. The reoffending within a year of serving their sentence is 38.4%.

Factors involved are the limited time offender management teams have available and scarcity of places on NHS therapy programmes.

Add an offender’s previous history of disrupted learning and their potentially chaotic housing arrangements and the odds of completing any kind of formal programme lengthen considerably.

So how can complex, learned behaviours be turned around in a short time frame with someone whose education is likely to have been chaotic and socialisation is based on negative role models?

RSG has created the Strength Based Hub, an online structured programme that is delivering remarkable results by combining specially-developed online tutorials with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

RSG developed the programme to help individuals recognise their own strengths and skills and improve on these in order to develop and maintain a positive identity.

It is designed to increase motivation levels, set positive goals, manage difficult emotions and use mindfulness skills.

Hussey says this approach also avoids lengthy delays of accessing treatment: “If you identify what someone is good at, that increases their self-esteem – and if they can access this kind straight away then this kind of treatment works.”

He is also ensuring they see courses through by using devices such as smart phones and even game consoles for people to access training modules.

Hussey tells Work With Offenders: “It’s a self-help tool with exercises focused on behaviour and the results are sent to a key worker to assess.

“When people are subject to criminal justice interventions, these can be the most chaotic people. A lot of them can be enabled to change their behaviour and because it’s interactive, they engage with it more.”

The programmes, that include videos and audio clips for people with learning difficulties, have been developed by subject matter experts and psychologists.

So far, the Intervention Hub that hosts the programme has helped over 3,000 people since 2014.

Of those, 71% showed a positive change in pre and post questionnaires.

Hussey says: “It’s about giving someone additional tools to address their problems. How are they supposed to know what a healthy relationship is if they have never been taught it?”

As part of an introductory offer, the Red Snapper Group are giving all current subscribers to the Intervention Hub free access to this programme for the duration of their subscription and all new organisations free access for a 3-month period. To find out more about this offer or if you have any further questions, please contact: Jonathan.hussey@rsg.ltd