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The International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology (IACFP) Partners with ICPA in Furthering Professionalism in Corrections

ICPA is committed to working with partner organizations who share the same values and desire to contribute to professionalism in corrections. The International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology (IACFP) is one such organization that ICPA has worked with closely in the last number of years. The IACFP publishes Criminal Justice and Behavior(CJB) , an internationally recognized journal of criminal justice research. It is the oldest organization in service to mental health and behavioral-change professionals in criminal justice in the world. Over the last number of years, the IACFP has sponsored the annual Distinguished Scholar Lecture at the ICPA Annual Conference and last year in Bucharest 2016 Dr. Gerard Seijts, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Ivey Business School Western University, delivered a captivating lecture on the issue of Leader Character. Another initiative that has been quite successful is the sponsoring of a Pre-Conference Seminar for local corrections professionals who may be unable to attend the full ICPA Conference. This Pre-Conference Seminar over the last two years has focused on the theme of “Contributions of Psychology to Correctional Practice: New Perspectives in Responsive Work with Offenders”. This year some 80 Romanian helping professionals participated in the one-day Seminar and their feedback suggests that it was a resounding success.

The Pre-Conference Seminar featured Michael D. Clark, MSW, a Board member of IACFP, speaking on the topic of “Strength-based and Motivational Strategies in Working with Offenders”.  Michael has served as a probation officer, a family court magistrate and clinical social worker. For the past 15 years he has directed the Center for Strength-Based Strategies developing and applying the strengths approach to the fields of addictions and corrections. An acknowledged international expert in the field, Michael has just recently co-authored “Motivational Interviewing for Offender Rehabilitation and Reentry” published by Guilford Press.

The Seminar also featured Dr. Emily Salisbury, editor-in-chief of the CJB journal, Board member of IACFP and Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada.  Dr. Salisbury’s primary research interests include correctional assessment and treatment intervention strategies, with a particular focus on female offenders and gender-responsive policy.  She delivered an engaging presentation on Gender Responsive Strategies in Working with Offenders.

Finally, Dr. Frank Porporino, also an IACFP Board member, closed the mini-conference by leading a panel discussion on the challenges of implementation of evidence-informed practice.  Included in the panel were Ioana Mihaela Morar, coordinator of the Social Reintegration Department within the National Administration of Penitentiaries in Romania, and Dorin Gabriel Muresan, an ICPA Board member and currently Security and Regime Expert at DEJ Prison Hospital in Romania.

The Seminar was an excellent opportunity for psychologists, and other program and treatment professionals in Romania, to meet directly with fellow correctional professionals from North America and to learn about and discuss what we know about effective strategies for dealing with offenders.

DR-MICHAEL-CLARK-2               DR-EMILY-SALISBURY               DR-FRANK-PORPORINO               GROUP-SHOT-2

    Michael D Clark                                   Dr. Emily Salisbury                                 Dr. Frank Porporino                                        Group Photo

The following summarizes some of the feedback that the Seminar received – in the voice of Romanian professionals who attended:

The seminar seemed to offer some hope and inspiration to practitioners and clearly highlighted the need for respect of the ‘evidence’.

“I was glad to participate today to those presentations, to see the view of international specialist in this moment, in present. I saw (and I liked a lot) putting in practice the motivational interview (in Michael Clark`s presentation) and I was very impressed by the accuracy of dates and serious studies in Dr. Emily Salisbury`s presentation. I found interesting to see once again that the evidence – based practice is so valued, so important. But also wonderful was the panel of discussions from the end of the day, when we the Romanian specialists, had the opportunity to expose the issues of our work and to validate, somehow, our experiences in this system. Thank you for that day!”

“After this session:

  1. I feel: inspired, motivate, encouraged in my work;
  2. I Know (better): the behavior change, the motivational interview, the evidence base practice from my work; 3. I will try to put these feelings and this knowledge in my work”.

“Thank all of you for three distinct reasons which I will keep close to my professional “heart”. First, I remembered the importance of the link between practice and research. Second, the motivational approach in the specific interventions → the focus on the person`s resources. Third, the confirmation of the idea that gender responsive is the most effective approach. Thank you for this!”

Interestingly, the seminar also seemed to offer students some encouragement to remain ‘in the field’ of corrections.

“As a student, it was a great experience to be present al ICPA Conference. I think that this will help me in my future career as a psychologist because the two speakers are true professionals and I learned a lot of new things from their presentations.

There were some new approaches in criminal psychology that deserve to be given a lot of importance nowadays.”

“First of all, I came here to see if this field is what I truly want to do with my life.

I was surprised to came here and hear about evidence-based information, it`s a topic that as a student in the final year I faced the most. I am aware now that evidence-based and statistics are very important (if you want to be a really good practical).”

Importantly, the seminar seems to have achieved its primary aim of supporting and encouraging the pursuit of true professionalism in our field.

“For me, the conference generated a lot of ideas about how to continue to expand my skills and my professional qualifications.”

“Personally, I found the practical example of Motivational Interview very useful. I knew of the technique before but the example made me realize it`s flexibility. It made me want to use it in practice. There are some practices in my work for which gender based practice is relevant. I work with males. There is a need for them to act manly in front of a female so they may not admit the abuse if the proper gender based approach is not used.”

“The importance of motivational interviewing with offenders (addict persons specially). In Jilava Prison we have a Therapeutic Community and I work a lot with addict persons. M.I. is very useful. I love to say that ignorance is dangerous for us and that to study research is a responsibility and an obligation for the psychologist. Thanks for this, Emily, I will remember this!”

“I really enjoy being here today. I found interesting the speech about the motivational interview and the 3 motivational constructs: importance, confidence and readiness. Of course very interesting the speech about gender and the risk factors for women (extra-factors J). I will go back to my work and my life with those ideas and of course with the ideas of finding strengths and point them out.”

At its core, the IACFP is about working to ‘help the helpers’ meet the complicated and difficult demands in field of corrections and criminal justice.

This Pre-Conference Seminar held for Romanian professionals in Bucharest seems to have gone at least some small way in advancing that aim.

Read more about the 18th ICPA Annual Conference:


Author: Dr. Frank Porporino