chapter  5
28 Pages

Cognitive analytic therapy with young adult offenders

ByAbigail Willis

In March 2009 over nine thousand young adults (aged 18-20 years) were in custody in England and Wales (Ministry of Justice 2009).1 This sizeable group presents very high levels of mental health concerns: an evaluation of 1,254 young male offenders aged 16-20 years under sentence found that 41 per cent exhibited significant neurotic concerns; that 4 per cent exhibited psychosis; and that 88 per cent met the criteria for a personality disorder (Lader et al. 2000). Their mental health concerns are compounded by the difficulties that they have experienced in the community, including alcohol and substance misuse, low levels of social support, low levels of employment, reduced engagement in training and education, accommodation concerns and financial difficulties (HMCIP 1997; Lader et al. 2000; Howard League for Penal Reform 2003, 2005a, 2005c). Many have experienced loss and abuse and have entered the ‘looked after’ system (HMCIP 1997; Lader et al. 2000; Howard League for Penal Reform 2005c). The group presents high rates of reoffending; nearly two thirds were reconvicted within two years (Howard League for Penal Reform 2005c; HMCIP 2006). Clearly young adult offenders present very high levels of social and psychological needs.