Psychotherapy and the prisoner—impasse or progress?
This chapter explores the possibility of working as a psychotherapist within the prison service. I discuss the psychodynamic processes involved in treating offenders, with addictive behaviour in criminality and in sexual and drug abuse, within a psychotherapeutic community in a prison. The therapeutic community provides an intensive relationship ex perience in which the interaction between the inmates and the staff within the prison institution are mirrored in the therapeu tic community in general and groups in particular. I illustrate this with the use of clinical examples of how this environment allows the customary defences of violence and deviant behav iour to be creatively challenged in the therapeutic groups, thereby permitting new possibilities of coping with the anxie ties of the prisoner. It has been suggested that the prison culture is an obstacle to the effectiveness of psychotherapy, but I argue that with the use of the therapist's countertransference a hu mane understanding of the conflicts can be achieved.