psychoanalysis in offender treatment


Many treatment modalities have been tried and discarded in correctional settings, while others advanced and evolved. Voorhis and Salisbury (2016) explain how some elements became part of a successful approach to correctional counseling and treatment. One of these is psychoanalysis, the first major method of psychotherapy. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory posits that we all suppress our unconscious thoughts, memories, and desires. To gain insight and awareness into our behavior, we must become conscious of those feelings to deal with whatever issues plague us. Freud believed that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety result from struggles between the conscious and unconscious mind. He developed specific strategies for psychoanalysis that he believed could uncover these buried thoughts. Experts agree that psychoanalysis in its purest form is costly and unworkable in in the prison setting. Cognitive, behavioral, and many other therapies have proven to be significantly more effective when working with the offender population. That said, as a correctional counselor, some concepts in psychoanalytic theory can be useful in treatment programs, and you should understand these as a professional in this discipline.


In this discussion:

  • Describe some of the elements of psychoanalytic theory that might be useful in treatment.
  • Explain your choices and describe positive and negative offender outcomes.
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