chapter  5
The journeys of correctional relationships
Pages 37

This chapter will examine the flow of relationships over time and help to provide some understanding into how criminal justice practitioners can develop therapeutic correctional relationships and safeguard them within practice. As we have established, relationships are fluid and changeable over time, and yet the relational journeys between offenders and criminal justice practitioners have been significantly neglected within the research. It is generally assumed within practice that relationships are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘present’ or ‘absent’ and from critically examining any interpersonal relationship, it is clear to see that they do in fact ebb and flow over time, changing with respect to the individuals involved and the context in which they are situated. When situating therapeutic relationships within a correctional setting, a number of challenges occur that can shake the relationship. This may include further offences, offenders moving area, or practitioner changes due to sickness or relocation. While practical issues can unsettle a relationship, more subtle aspects of practice can also alter the nature of a relationship. This chapter will also address the relational narrative to consider relationships more broadly over time and attend to the occurrence of ruptures, drawing upon more specific events that can temporarily tear a relationship between offender and practitioner. This chapter was dedicated to two key themes that specifically examined the narrative of relationships within probation practice. It not only explored how offenders and practitioners described their relationship narratives, but also identified elements of good practice that could maximise the likelihood of relationship success and retention. This chapter has been structured in two parts; firstly, it will address how therapeutic correctional relationships can be developed and then go on to explore how relationships can facilitate growth, once they have been developed successfully. While the relational narrative is documented within the fields of psychotherapy and nursing, limited research exists relating to offenders. By drawing upon a more multidisciplinary perspective, it is hoped that the mechanisms of therapeutic correctional relationships can be illuminated and a discussion can take place that establishes the extent of such application. Russell and Schau (2014) highlight that by exploring narratives and providing individuals opportunities to tell their story, it can lead to new insights into the inner self and assist an

individual in understanding themselves and their past experiences. This chapter aims to use narratives in a way that can provide an insight into the processes of relationships and provide participants with the opportunity to attend to their own stories and make sense of past and current relationships. It has been highlighted by Beeber et al. (1990) that the stages of a relationship

are not time anchored and can evolve over different periods of time, depending upon the individual players. In response to this, the stages of therapeutic correctional relationships will be critically explored under the broad headings of; preconceptions, early stages (including the first meeting), the working stage and the latter stages of resolution/termination. These were themes that emerged within the academic literature and also reinforced through my own work. The academic literature relating to these stages will be discussed and where present, the behaviours or skills of the practitioner will be outlined, in order to explore the avenues in which criminal justice practitioners can successfully develop positive relational narratives. While these findings can be tentatively applied to other areas of rehabilitative practice, further research relating to relational narratives is necessary to ground such assertions. Consistent with the work of Ryals (2011), the main stages associated with a

therapeutic correctional relationship were broadly described by both offenders and practitioners as:

1 relational preconceptions; 2 the first meeting; 3 developing the relationship; 4 maintaining/sustaining the relationship (the ‘working’ relationship); and 5 ending the relationship.