Beyond the Field
  • All
  • Podcast
  • Video
  • Webinar
Podcast

State of the Field: Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts (Part Two) – Justice To Healing

The State of the Field mini-series finally comes to an end with part two of our discussion focused on Tribal Healing To Wellness Courts (THWCs). Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. continue their discussion with Kris Pacheco, Tribal Wellness Specialist for Tribal Law and Policy Institute, and Chief Judge John Haupt of the Makah tribe in Neah Bay, Washington. Listen as they discuss the current challenges in THWCs, legalization of marijuana, research among THWCs, and more.

 

Podcast

State of the Field: Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts (Part One) – Justice To Healing

We close out the State of the Field series with part one of an in-depth discussion on Tribal Healing To Wellness Courts (THWCs) in this month’s episode. Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Kris Pacheco, Tribal Wellness Specialist for Tribal Law and Policy Institute, and Chief Judge John Haupt of the Makah tribe in Neah Bay, Washington. Listen as they discuss the history of THWCs, the structure, who they serve, and more.
 

Podcast

State of the Field: Family Treatment Courts – Justice To Healing

Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Jane Pfeifer, MPA, Program Director at Center for Children and Family Futures, and Chad Rodi, Director at NPC Research, for discussion regarding the state of family treatment courts (FTCs). Listen as they define FTCs and how they have changed over time. They also discuss a family-centered approach, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and more.
 

Podcast

Children of Incarcerated Parents – Justice To Healing

Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Melissa Radcliff, Program Director at Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons Center, for discussion regarding children of incarcerated parents (COIP). Listen as they discuss the data, related legislation, impacts on children, the involvement of law enforcement and other roles in COIP, and much more.
 

Podcast

State of the Field: Veterans Treatment Courts – Justice To Healing

Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Dr. Julie Baldwin, Research Professor in the Department of Justice, Law, & Criminology at American University, for discussion regarding the state of veterans treatment courts (VTCs). Listen as they discuss the history of VTCs, the differences between adult drug court and veterans treatment court, target population, risk assessment tools, challenges among programs, research, and much more.
 

Podcast

State of the Field: DUI/DWI Courts – Justice To Healing

Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Jim Eberspacher, Director of the National Center for DWI Courts, for discussion regarding the state of DUI/DWI courts. Listen as they discuss the history and myths of DUI/DWI courts, target population, risk assessment tools, challenges in establishing new programs, current and potential research, and much more.
 

Podcast

Selling Your Treatment Court – Justice to Healing

Proud of the work you and your treatment court team do and want to spread the word? Looking for ways to communicate with community partners to increase your courts utilization? Listen as guest host Ben Yerby, the Integrated Marketing Communication Specialist for the NDCRC, welcomes Dr. Jeanne Persuit, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Director of Marketing & Communication for the NDCRC, as they discuss what integrated marketing communication is and how it can help you promote your treatment court’s work in your community, how to communicate with your audiences, and issues to think about as treatment court professionals performing in a communication role.
 

Podcast

State of the Field: Mental Health Courts – Justice to Healing

Hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. welcome Lisa Callahan, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at Policy Research Associates, for a deep dive into the state of mental health courts (MHC). Listen in as they touch on the unique qualities of mental health courts, ideal program structure, the use of incentives and sanctions in MHCs, measuring success, tips for implementation, and much more
 

Video

NDCRC.org Walk-through

We do our best to provide the most valuable experience on our website. However, sometimes it is helpful to see first-hand how to navigate certain aspects of a new website. Watch this short walk-through that briefly guides you through the different resources we have to offer.
 

Video

Do Better- Campaign Launch

The National Drug Court Resource Center is proud to announce the launch of a collaborative campaign designed to encourage the treatment court community to use their voices in promoting positive growth within themselves and their communities. Here at the NDCRC, we are highly collaborative and are always looking for ways to improve the resources we have to offer. Why? Because we want our resources to be supportive of your growth. Let us know how you hope to do better!
 

The What, Who and Why of Trauma-Specific Therapies

Perhaps you have heard these common misconceptions about trauma therapy for treatment court participants:
  • “Trauma therapies are too harsh—they could relapse and they won’t graduate.”
  • “Better to treat the substance use first, THEN address the trauma.”
  • “Whatever trauma-focused therapy is available, that will be good enough.”
  • “It is expensive (for providers) to learn trauma-focused therapies, and they are too complicated.”
 
The National Drug Court Resource Center provides free resources to enable treatment courts to implement evidence-based practices and maximize the effectiveness of their programs. In this fourth article in our series on trauma-informed practices, we provide a brief overview of trauma-specific treatments that have the most scientific support, why these therapies are a good fit for many treatment court participants with trauma, and ways to facilitate greater access to these effective treatments.
 
Importance of integrating treatment for PTSD and substance use treatment
It is well known that trauma and substance use disorders co-occur at very high rates, and treatment courts are well positioned to provide treatment for both, concurrently. This integrated model offers outcomes that are far superior to the outdated, sequential approach that requires treating substance use disorder first, THEN the trauma (Flanagan et al., 2016). Integrated treatment allows clients to address PTSD symptoms that are directly linked to substance use, and vice versa. A sequential model that focuses on treating substance use “first” reduces the chances that trauma will ever be addressed before the treatment court participant either drops out or completes the program. Providers may fear that clients with PTSD are too fragile in that encouraging clients to face their trauma memories and intense emotions directly could lead to relapse or dropping out of treatment. Conversely, treatment court participants have greater supports and structure in place than in any other time in their lives, so treatment courts are encouraged to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
 
Trauma-focused therapies with the best outcomes
The following trauma-focused treatments have been rigorously studied and are recommended/strongly recommended by the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Defense (Veteran’s Services). All are fairly brief (8-16 sessions), and share a direct focus on exposure to memories of the trauma. Some also emphasize changing clients’ maladaptive beliefs about the trauma and themselves. All the approaches involve temporary discomfort, as distressing memories are activated through exposure (imagined or real-life) and processed in a structured, systematic manner under the direction of the therapist (Watkins et al., 2018). Decisions about which treatment approach is the best fit will depend on nature of the trauma (e.g., combat-related, victim of sexual assault, witness to a violent event), the complexity of the trauma, client preference, and realistically, availability of clinical providers who offer the intervention.
 
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). People who have experienced trauma try to make sense of the occurrence and can develop distorted beliefs about themselves and the trauma. These “stuck points” can keep the individual from healing, and include beliefs such as “I have myself to blame” and “As long as I trust no one, I will be safer.” Treatment extends over 12 sessions and involves activating the traumatic memory, which includes writing and reading a narrative account of the trauma. At the same time, the therapist helps the client to identify the maladaptive cognitions associated with the traumatic event and shift them to become more accurate and helpful (Resick, Monson & Chard, 2017).
 
Prolonged Exposure (PE). After educating the patient about the nature of PTSD and how PE works, the therapist uses exposure to both imagined and real-life situations, as well as people and places associated with the client’s unique trauma. After repeated exposures, the client ultimately learns that the feared (avoided) consequence will not occur and is able to move forward and use more adaptive coping strategies as opposed to avoidance. The therapy typically takes 8–15 sessions (e.g., Foa et al, 2007).
 
Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT). Many have heard of this as an evidence-based therapy for children. However, adults also benefit from the integration of behavioral (e.g., imaginal exposure to the distressing memory) and cognitive components. Clients learn to identify triggers of re-experiencing, practice discriminating between “then vs. now,” identify and dispute dysfunctional thoughts, as well as reshape beliefs about themselves, the trauma, and the world.
 
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). In this treatment the therapist utilities exposure to the traumatic memory, coupled with eye movements (left and right) and sometimes tapping and sounds. EMDR differs from the other recommended approaches in that cognitions are not explored, exposure to the distressing memory is briefer, and there is no assigned homework. The therapy typically takes 6-12 sessions (Shapiro, 2017).
 
These therapies have been found to be very effective for people who are actively using substances, have thoughts of suicide (but low intent), are unhoused, or have minimal education. There are a few exclusions. Trauma specific treatment is not recommended for people who currently have unmedicated mania or psychosis, or who are at current high-risk for suicide, or who require immediate detoxification services.
 
Who should receive these therapies?
First, assessment of trauma symptoms is critical. Treatment court participants may not report or display trauma symptoms at the initial screening and assessment for admission to treatment court, as they may have normalized their experiences or may not be ready to disclose such sensitive information. However, members of the treatment court team should be on alert for signs of trauma and refer participants to trauma therapy providers for assessment. Providers should routinely assess participants for PTSD and continue to assess throughout treatment.
 
Valid and reliable trauma screening and assessment measures are available to licensed professionals free of charge (see the National Center for PTSD for more information https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/list_measures.asp#list1).
 
When working with justice-involved individuals with SUD or COD, SAMHSA (2015) recommends the use of the following trauma screening instruments:
 
PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5)
 
and
 
Select 1 of the following publicly available resources:
 
Similarly, SAMHSA (2015) recommends the use of one of the following trauma assessment instruments, which should be administered by a licensed clinician:
 
 
How available are trauma specific therapies to treatment court participants?
There are few studies on the use of trauma therapies in treatment court populations, and more work needs to be done to assess barriers to access as well as mental health and substance use outcomes. Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) are likely to be more familiar with and offer trauma specific therapies. The U.S. Veterans Administration has been a leader in funding the development, research, training and dissemination of these interventions. The therapies are applicable to non-veteran populations, and clinicians are encouraged to receive training to provide these interventions. All approaches are related to aspects of cognitive and behavior therapies, and most providers should already be familiar with the theories and be able to utilize the therapy manuals, handouts, and free phone apps for patients (e.g. “PE Coach” and “CPT Coach”).
 
Treatment Courts are encouraged to pursue training for providers in these strongly recommended trauma-specific approaches and to utilize the free and low-cost resources below to learn more.

References: 

Flanagan, J. C., Korte, K. J., Killeen, T. K., & Back, S. E. (2016). Concurrent treatment of substance sse and PTSD. Current Psychiatry Reports, 18(8), 70. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0709-y
 
Foa, E. B., Hembree, E. A., & Rothbaum, B.O. (2007). Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Emotional Processing of Traumatic Experiences. Therapist Guide. Oxford University Press.
 
Meyer, B. L. (2016). Practical Application: Research to Practice Cognitive Processing Therapy. National Drug Court Intitute. https://ndcrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Research_to_Practice_Overview_of_the_Evidence-Based_Intervention.pdf
 
Resick, P.A., Monson, C.M. & Chard, K.M. (2017). Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD: A Comprehensive Manual. Guilford Press.
 
Shapiro, F. (2017). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Third Edition. Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guilford Press.
 
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Screening and Assessment of Co-occurring Disorders in the Justice System. HHS Publication No. PEP19-SCREEN-CODJS. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015.
 
Watkins, L. E., Sprang, K. R., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2018). Treating PTSD: A review of evidence-based psychotherapy interventions. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12, 258. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00258
 
Free Resources
National Center for PTSD https://www.ptsd.va.gov/ Free assessment, intervention, and training resources for providers. Including apps for patients
 
Cognitive Processing Therapy https://cptforptsd.com/cpt-resources/
 

Written by  Sally MacKain, Ph.D.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent Comments

    It’s almost time for RISE22! Join NADCP for the biggest treatment court professionals’ conference in the country. Make your way to Nashville, Tennessee July 25-28 for networking, continuing education, inspirational guests, and the annual RISE Film Festival. Be sure to stop by the NDCRC’s booth and say hello!

     

    Register for RISE22

    Trauma-Informed Drug/Alcohol Testing

    This is the third in a series of articles regarding trauma-informed treatment courts. In December 2021, we offered an overview of SAMHSA’s (2015) six principles of trauma-informed care and evidence-based strategies for the screening and assessment of trauma in participants. In January 2022, we explored literature on trauma-informed spaces and courtrooms and reviewed findings from environmental psychology. In this edition of Beyond the Field, we review work related to trauma-informed drug testing as it relates to the trauma-informed principles of safety, trust and transparency, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment/voice & choice, peer support, and cultural, racial/ethnic and gender needs.
     
    According to Best Practice Standard #7, “Drug and alcohol testing provides an accurate, timely, and comprehensive assessment of unauthorized substance use throughout participants’ enrollment in the Drug Court” (NADCP, 2018, 26). Treatment court teams use drug/alcohol results to monitor participants use of substances to make decisions regarding appropriate treatment services, supervision levels, and the administration of both incentives and sanctions. To this end, “the success of any Drug Court will depend, in part, on the reliable monitoring of substance use” (NADCP, 2018, 27). Given the vital role of drug/alcohol testing plays within the treatment court environment and the frequency with which participants engage in this program activity (minimum of twice per week during first few months of enrollment is best practice), it is vital that testing protocols are trauma-informed and do not undermine other aspects of the program.
     
    Review of trauma and its associated symptoms. SAMHSA defines trauma as resulting “from an event, series of events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, psychological, social, emotional or spiritual well-being” (2014). Because trauma is common among treatment court participants, teams will want to take action to minimize its negative impact on engagement in services, communication, problem-solving, decision making, and outcomes.
     
    Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) include the following four “clusters” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):
    a) Re-experiencing the traumatic event, or having intrusive, recurring memories or dreams related to the event. Places, sounds, lighting, thoughts, objects, and even words can trigger re-experiencing.
    b) Avoidance of situations, thoughts and feelings related to the event. Avoidance symptoms can cause people to resist instructions or escape to “safety.”
    c) Disturbance in arousal and reactivity. People may be easily startled, on edge, irritable, or become angry or aggressive. They may have trouble focusing, sleeping, and paradoxically, may engage in risky or destructive behavior.
    d) Numbing and/or other changes in cognition and mood. Numbing, emotional withdrawal or “shutdown” when triggered, negative thoughts, self-blame, feelings of isolation and apathy are common.
     
    You can probably picture participants who exhibit these behaviors, but might not have considered them to be trauma-related reactions. Trauma-informed courts recognize that the people, places and things embedded in everyday treatment court operations can trigger and exacerbate PTSD and ASD, or even re-traumatize participants. They respond by altering policies and practices to minimize these risks, often at low or no costs.
     
    The where, who and how of trauma-informed drug testing.  
    The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) conducted a trauma-informed care assessment project, or “Walkthrough” process, with five sites across the country (NCSACW, 2015). The site visits of child welfare, substance use treatment centers, and family treatment courts identified several common trauma triggers, including drug testing spaces and procedures. Restrooms tended to be noisy, uncomfortable, and located in high-traffic areas with little or no privacy.
     
    A tip sheet, “Trauma Informed Urine Drug Screens” was developed by Trauma Informed Oregon (2019) that provides detailed guidance for programs aiming to reduce the impact of trauma on justice-involved individuals with substance use disorders (found at this link https://traumainformedoregon.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Urine-Drug-Screen-tip-sheet.pdf)
    The information and examples are wisely organized by the principles of trauma-informed care.
    Some highlights include:
     
    Safety
    • Give participants written AND verbal information about what to expect during a UDS each time a screen is required
    • Have signage available in the restroom such as where to place the sample, when it is OK to flush and wash hands. Do not rush.
    • Close off restroom when in use and be sure it is clean and free of hazards
    • Ensure alternative means of testing, e.g. mouth swabs
     
    Trust and Transparency
    • Inform participants and provide documentation explaining why the UDS is being conducted, and when/how participants can access results
    • Allow participants to observe the sample being closed and labelled
    • Ensure participants know who to contact if they have questions, complaints or want to follow-up
     
    Collaboration and Mutuality
    • Provide a checklist of options about decisions they can make (if available) regarding use of a hat, whether or not they want to have conversation or quiet, soft music, or have water running.
    • The tip sheet provides a sample information sheet that along with the above options, lists the purpose, substances tested for, and includes the statements “We understand this can be an uncomfortable process and want you to feel as safe as possible…”
    • Provide a way for participants to offer feedback.
     
    Empowerment, Voice & Choice
    • Give participants a choice of which trained staff is giving the UDS.
    • Ensure participants are aware of their rights as a service user, and provide in writing
    • Avoid stigmatizing language “e.g. “dirty UA”).
     
    Peer Support & Mutual Self-help
    • If peer support is requested during the UA, ensure this option is available.
     
    Culture, Gender & History
    • Require staff to participate in trauma-informed care, cultural humility, and equity training as part of onboarding process.
    • Ensure UDS staff represent the population being served.
    • Ensure easy access to menstrual products.
     
    The UDS tips provided by Trauma Informed Oregon are not particularly expensive or difficult to implement, but they do require leadership and consistency. Drug/alcohol testing is a key component of the drug treatment court model and can/should be conducted with an eye toward minimizing the potentially traumatizing effects on participants. Treatment court teams should examine current policies and procedures and make necessary modifications where appropriate. Ensuring that all aspects of treatment court programs are trauma-informed will improve participant retention rates and increase the likelihood of participant success.
     
    The National Drug Court Resource Center is here to direct you to resources and to promote a culture of support in all of your efforts to “Do Better” https//ndcrc.org/do-better/#:~:text=The%20NDCRC%20launched%20the%20Do,treatment%20court%20work%20every%20day.

    References: 

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014). SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884. Rockville, MD.
     
    Trauma Informed Oregon (2019). Trauma Informed Urine Drug Screens. Oregon Health Authority.
     

    Written by Kristen DeVall, Ph.D., and Sally MacKain, Ph.D.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Recent Comments

      Criminals. Offenders. Participants. People.: The Role of Our Beliefs in the Work of Treatment Courts

       
      Connection is a through-line in the operating philosophy of therapeutic jurisprudence. Yet, the anatomy of connection and that of therapeutic jurisprudence is complex, and precise roadmaps for either are debated among scholars. However, perhaps a helpful framing to best work toward living out this philosophy is to consider four elements: beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors.
       
       
       
      Source: American Psychological Association: https://dictionary.apa.org/
       
      In the last article, the concept of mindfulness was introduced and defined as paying attention to what is happening in this moment, without judgement or reactivity to the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that arise (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). As we untangle the anatomy of therapeutic jurisprudence and connection, mindfulness practice allows you to notice what is happening in your mind and body. What thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise when you agree with an idea? When you disagree? Feel bored? When you dislike the idea, have unpleasant feelings, or uncover a judgment of yourself? The foundational skill of mindfulness invites you to stay curious about whatever comes up for you. Curiosity can make way for you to be kind towards yourself and – importantly – persistent in examining and reflecting upon the ideas ahead.
       
      In unpacking the anatomy of connection and therapeutic jurisprudence, we will first focus on the role of beliefs.
       
      Psychologists define beliefs as the “acceptance of the truth, reality, or validity of something, particularly in the absence of substantiation” (APA, 2022). Before we examine the role of beliefs in treatment court work, we must first familiarize ourselves with our own thoughts that are pertinent. You are invited to consider the following questions carefully and honestly:
       
      • What thoughts arise when I think about people involved in the treatment court system?
      • It may be helpful to consider your ideas about their motivation, wants, needs, behaviors, capacity for / interest in change, etc.
      • What thoughts arise when I think about treatment courts?
      • It may be helpful to consider your ideas about their purpose, design, utility, approach, effectiveness, etc.
      • What thoughts arise when I think about my role in the treatment court system?
      • It may be helpful to consider your ideas about your knowledge, skills, preparedness, attitude, motivation, capacity to provide support / make change, desire to help, resources, etc.
       
      Now that you have begun unfolding your own thoughts, we will outline beliefs that therapeutic jurisprudence invites practitioners to try on in treatment court work. These beliefs can include:
       
      • What do we believe about people involved in the treatment court system?
      • All people have strengths, gifts, and talents.
      • People are not their circumstances, conditions, experiences, or choices. People are in circumstances, experience conditions, have experiences, and make choices.
      • People have a complex life story we know only a fraction about. It may include but is not limited to their involvement in the justice system.
      • People have needs and wants as well as hopes for their lives.
      • People are complex, and understanding them takes time, energy, and interest.
      • People can change.
      • People deserve support in their efforts to change.
      • People will naturally make mistakes in the process of attempting to change their lives.
      • All people regardless of identity or circumstance deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
      • All people – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, religion, or socioeconomic status deserve the same opportunities as other individuals to participate and succeed in treatment courts.
      • What do we believe about treatment courts?
      • The law can be leveraged to have a therapeutic effect, resulting in psychologically healthy outcomes.
      • A collaborative, non-adversarial approach is most effective to supporting people to change their lives.
      • Building relationships is necessary to positively impact treatment and court outcomes.
      • The opportunity for alcohol and other drug treatment and mental health services can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
      • What do we believe about practitioners’ roles in the treatment court system?
      • The treatment court system works best with a connected, collaborative team.
      • All members can learn from one another.
      • All members of the multidisciplinary team bring a unique, necessary perspective and play an important role in participant outcomes.
      • Transitioning to a team approach from an adversarial approach can take time, patience, and intention.
       
      Why might honestly examining your own thoughts matter? Are your thoughts your actual beliefs? When do these automatic thoughts arise? Are the thoughts you had consistent with the beliefs outlined above? Where did your thoughts come from, and how might you challenge those that are inconsistent with those connected to therapeutic jurisprudence? Under what circumstances might your thoughts shift? (e.g., when you witness positive change, when your mood is low, when your body is activated, when your stress level is high, when you’re feeling really energized, etc.) And, when are you most generous thoughts about yourself around – when are the least generous ones pleasant?
       
      Our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world around us are deeply connected to our values, shape our attitudes, and influence our behavior—both personally and professionally.
      In this way, we cannot solely focus on practitioners’ behaviors in cultivating a healthy, effective workforce. Yet, thoughts are not beliefs—unless we decide so.
       
      We need to consider all aspects of the anatomy of therapeutic jurisprudence, starting with our actual beliefs about ourselves, others, and the work itself. Exploring our own thoughts means examining how we arrived at the ideas we have and the openness to challenges the ideas we hold. A part of the process also involves considering how our thoughts may automatically become beliefs without consciousness might affect our treatment of others.
       
      Using the 5 A’s of mindfulness, you can distinguish thoughts from beliefs and uncover your actual beliefs with intentionality– a process that is critical to engaging skillfully and effectively in your work. For example, imagine you have thoughts that label those with whom you work as “offenders” and “criminals.” In using mindfulness, the following could unfold:
       
      • Attention: intentional focus to the present moment:
      • Noticing the labels of “offender” and “criminal” in your mind and conversations with colleagues
      • Noticing judgmental thoughts about actions and choices of those involved in the treatment court system
      • Noticing feelings of frustration, ambivalence, and an urge to disengage from helping
      • Noticing sensations of agitation in the body
      • Acceptance: recognition of the truth of what is happening in the mind and body (note: this is not resignation, simply acknowledging what is true at this time):
      • “This is just what is happening right now – judgmental thoughts, frustrated feelings, and the urge to disengage.”
      • Allowance: making space for the full experience of what is happening without pushing it away (unless it is skillful in the moment to have such boundaries)
      • giving permission for what is happening in the mind and to exist—taking a moment to breath and avoid “busyness” that is sometimes deigned to move us away from what is really happening
      • Attitude: bringing qualities of curiosity, non-judgment, openness, and kindness to witnessing and holding the inner experience
      • “It’s interesting I’m having these thoughts; It’s understandable to have these thoughts – because I’m feeling extra stressed today, and this is the language that I hear all the time in society, too. All emotions are normal to feel.”
      • Action: choosing deliberative responses (rather than automatic, habitual reactions) that are grounded in awareness of the present moment
      • Reminding yourself that thoughts aren’t facts and do not have to be representative of your actual beliefs because they arose in your mind. Our beliefs are our choices.
      • Reminding yourself that labels like “offender” and “criminal” are reductionistic, diminishing of someone’s humanity, and disconnecting; they are problematic because they label the entire person by a behavior and make us feel far and separate from that person (i.e., disconnected)
      • Choosing to reframe that language in your mind in speech—maybe even by simply thinking about the person by their name, dropping the label altogether. (i.e., Sam experienced a substance use relapse versus An offender in the program relapsed.)
      • Taking care of yourself in the best way for you in response to the frustration/agitation that is around and possibly connected to automaticity of labeling (e.g., talking with a supervisor about a challenging interaction with the person)
      • Taking a step to reconnect to that person, even if only in your mind and body (e.g., think of one thing you have in common with that person)
       
      Thoughts are only mental experiences that we often mistake as facts or chosen beliefs; however, we can choose to buy into our thoughts or not. Beliefs are, in fact, choices. Bringing more consciousness to the ways in which with think about ourselves, others, and work positions us to stay connected—to ourselves, to others, and to our professional values, attitudes, and behaviors.
       
      What we choose to believe directly impacts how we engage. How we engage directly impacts the lives of others.
       
      And, we want to engage with the belief that those in the treatment court system are, in fact, criminals, offenders, participants people.
       
      A Connection Call to Action:
      This week, you are invited to engage in a connection call to action to try out the ideas discussed.
       
      Connecting with yourself:
      Examine your beliefs about yourself, focusing on your strengths. Take a few moments each day to make a list of 5 of the strengths you demonstrate in your work.
       
      Connecting with others:
      Examine your beliefs about those in a participant role, focusing on identifying their strengths. Take a few moments each day to make a list of 5 of the strengths you see in a person with whom you are / were working. Each day, choose a new person to think about. You are especially encouraged to focus on those people who brought up feelings of frustration for you or with whom you have / had a strained working relationship.
       

       

      References: 

      American Psychological Association. (2022, April 1). APA Dictionary of Psychology. https://dictionary.apa.org/
       
      Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Hyperion.
       
      Kabat-Zinn, J. (2018). Falling awake: How to practice mindfulness in everyday life. Hachette UK.
       
      Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S. E., & Fournier, C. (2015). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 78(6), 519-528.
       
      Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932.
       
      Lee, J. J. (2021, May). Education for Emotional Rigor: The Pedagogy of Mindful Self-Care. Presented (oral presentation) at International Teaching and Learning Cooperative (ITLC): Lilly Online Conference. Virtual. 
       
      Lee, J. J. (2020, September). What’s in Your Backpack?: Mindful Self-care and Emotional Rigor of a Crisis. The New Social Worker.  https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/your-backpack-mindful-self-care-emotional-rigor-covid19-crisis/
       
      Visted, E., Vøllestad, J., Nielsen, M. B., & Nielsen, G. H. (2015). The impact of group-based mindfulness training on self-reported mindfulness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 6(3), 501-522.
       

      Written by  Jacquelyn Lee, Ph.D., LCSW 

      Associate Professor, School of Social Work, UNCW

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published.

      This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

      Recent Comments

        In May, the treatment court community will once again come together to celebrate National Drug Court Month. As pandemic restrictions begin to ease in many places, we encourage you to plan safe activities to celebrate the lifesaving work you do, engage stakeholders, and inspire the community.

        NADCP’s National Drug Court Month Toolkit has everything you need to make May a success. This year, we’re holding a special contest called the Art of Recovery, where treatment court participants and alumni can submit art in several categories and win prizes!

        Inside the toolkit, you’ll find a wealth of information and samples to help guide and inspire, including:

        • Art of Recovery contest
        • Sample social media content
        • A National Drug Court Month proclamation template
        • Tools to write effective op-eds and media advisories
        • Unique and safe event ideas

        As always, NADCP is here to serve you. If you need assistance beyond whats in the toolkit, just ask!

        Through this opportunity, the Bureau of Justice Assistance seeks applications for funding to support cross-system collaboration to improve public safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who come into contact with the justice system (implementation or enhancement of Mental Health Courts). This solicitation was posted April 1, 2022. Eligible applicants include city, county, special district, and state governments, Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized), state, nonprofit, or government mental health agency, or public and state controlled institutions of higher education.

         

        See Request for Proposal

         

        Grants.gov Deadline: May 27, 2022, 8:59 pm Eastern
        JustGrants Deadline: June 1, 2022, 8:59 pm Eastern