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PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FOR SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA AND ABUSE

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PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FOR SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA AND ABUSE

DISCUSSION PAPER

BASED ON THE

BRAINSTORMING SESSION - JUNE 8-9, 1994

Correctional Service of Canada

January 1995

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Introduction

Purpose of the Session

Set-up of the Discussion Paper

Other Issues

Issue #1: Types of Programs: Group vs Individual

Issue #2: Different Types of Programs for Different Types of Trauma

Issue #3: Confidentiality and Information Sharing

Issue #4: Credentials for Facilitators

Issue #5: Program Safeguards

Issue #6: Long Term Offenders

Issue #7: Evaluation

Issue #8: Research

Appendix 1 - List of Recommendations of the Community Experts

Appendix 2 - Possible Topics to be Covered in a Survivor's Program

Appendix 3 - Participant List


Introduction

When the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women (FSW) was convened in 1989, the effects of victimization and its impact on the survivors' lives - both for women in general and for FSW - were well understood. In 1990, with the government's acceptance of the Task Force Report, Creating Choices, and the recommendations contained therein, understanding and awareness of these issues reached the corporate level of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). This allowed for a new and supported approach in the area of survivor's issues in women's corrections. The need for a more focused approach to helping survivors was established and program funding was increased at Prison for Women.

Through the federal government's Family Violence Initiative, and later, the Canadian Panel Report on Violence Against Women and Statistics Canada's Survey on Violence Against Women, an understanding of the devastation brought on by this societal plight grew.

Federally Sentenced Women are accountable to society and to themselves for the crimes they have committed and they are paying that debt through their incarceration. Women are not responsible for the violence committed against them; yet that violence has a profound impact on the way survivors perceive themselves, their abilities and their roles in personal relationships and in society as a whole. Assisting women to get beyond their victimization, to gain insight into and understand their anger and other emotions, increases their chances to live safer, happier and more productive lives.

Surviving violence is a personal matter: no direct link has been established between victimization and criminal behaviour. Yet, many consequences of victimization can contribute to choices that an individual makes. This is a serious issue for all women. It is especially serious for FSW, 60 -90% of whom have suffered violence at the hands of their families of origin (foster or natural) or their intimate partners 1.

Programs for survivors of trauma and violence must be an integral part of every FSW facility to ensure that women are provided with the opportunity to understand their victimization; to understand the context in which it occurs, both socially and politically; and, to learn to accept their powerlessness in the acts committed against them and their powerfulness and abilities in the actions which they choose to take.

Purpose of the Session

While CSC has a fairly good understanding of the behavioural dynamics and issues of trauma and violence faced by FSW gained from the work of staff at Prison for Women, the Task Force and from CSC's participation in the federal Family Violence Initiative, it lacks corporate expertise in the area of intervention. It is in the community, and more particularly in women's groups, and in organizations that assist victims of criminal acts, that this expertise rests.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) brought together several experts from the community for a "brainstorming session" to assist in the development of a framework and guidelines for programs for survivors of trauma and violence that will be offered in the new facilities. The session was held in Ottawa over a two (2) day period, June 8-9, 1994 . The list of participants is found in Appendix 3.

The framework and guidelines will enable the staff of the FSW facilities to search for programs in their communities which meet the needs of FSW. This approach will also be instrumental in establishing the connection between the facility and the community and between women themselves, both inside and outside.

Set-up of the Discussion Paper

Over the course of the session many topics and issues were discussed and studied from varying points of view. This paper will identify the major issues discussed, provide some background as to the discussion 2 and list the recommendations made by the session members. The recommendations are included in the body of the paper and are summarized in Appendix 1. Appendix 2 offers some suggestions for topics to be covered in survivors' programs.

The issues addressed in this paper are:

1: Types of programs: group vs individual

2: Different groups for different types of trauma

3: Confidentiality and information sharing

4: Credentials for facilitators

5: Program safeguards

6: Long-term offenders

7: Evaluation

8: Research

Other Issues

Two other important issues were raised that could not (as it was not in the scope of the groups' mandate) or did not seem to reach consensus: cross-gender staffing and therapy vs power - the medical model vs consciousness raising.

Cross-Gender Staffing

Many of the participants felt that there should be no male staff in the facilities given the experiences of trauma and abuse experienced by most FSW, that men would be in positions of power over the women (though the women staff will also be in these positions), and that "women-centred" means "women only." Others felt that it is important to have men present to better reflect society and that the men chosen should represent positive male role models.

CSC's decision on cross-gender staffing was explained. This issue had been reviewed with the women themselves who for the most part indicated that they were not opposed to men working in the facility as long as their privacy and dignity was respected. The wardens are committed to implementing such policies and procedures. From a legal perspective men are eligible to compete for positions in the new facilities. However, the selection criteria developed for the staffing of the facilities requires all candidates (women and men) to demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to women's issues, professionalism and the ability to work in a women-centred environment. Special training will also be provided to staff on women-centred issues. However, despite these safeguards, many of the participants still felt that the facilities should be staffed only by women.

Intervention Approach

Some of the participants felt that the approach CSC should favour with respect to programs for survivors is a "power" (consciousness raising) approach rather than a "therapeutic" (medical model) approach. The power approach emphasizes that violence against women is a social and political problem, as opposed to having an individual connotation. It sees the issues of power and control of women as a major force that each individual woman needs to understand as she deals with her own victimization. The experience of being abused usually has much to do with her role in society rather than with any inherent characterisitics of how she behaves in her role.

This approach helps women to understand roles vs behaviour and to understand that other women are too sharing this vulnerability, simply because they are women. Women are helped with their having survived abuse and violence by educating them about the inequality of women (hence, raising their consciousness) and also helping them to form the political alliances and connections with other women in order to reach a position of equality in society. By talking with other women about this, an individual is strengthened by connecting to others who have survived similar circumstances. Though the individuals may not connect "feminist" beliefs to an understanding of their role in society, they are still empowered by being connected to other women, to a support network, in a safe and positive way.

Those who advocate for the power approach tend to view the therapuetic or medical model approach as disempowering to women because it presumes that they "need to be cured"; that they are somehow ill and require treatment.

A therapeutic or medical model approach emphasizes the individual situation that a woman has survived and assists her to deal with the situation, to develop positive coping skills and to move beyond her personal victimization. This approach was used by some of the participants and they felt that their clients benefitted from this type of intervention. However, the medical model may discredit the impact that the context and the social pressures and norms have on the situation by focusing too much on the individual. This model may look at women from the point of view of men; of men's understnding of power and control; and, of men's understanding of what is "healthy" for women. Dealing with the issues of an individual without understanding the power and control issues in a larger societal and political context, reinforces the view that the woman is somehow responsible for the abuse she experiences.

It was the experience of some of the experts that using a power approach to the exclusion of requesting some indivdual change can paralyse some women. In order for some women to move, it is sometimes helpful to shift to a therapeutic model as some women externalize problems believing they have no capacity to change. It is important to foster in women the belief that they do sometimes have decision-making ability and choice in spite of oppression.

The first concern is to let the individual women air their feelings and then make connections with others who have experienced the same thing. A feminist therapist or group leaders will use all the concepts as appropriate knowing for example that a woman's depression comes from her own experiences and from her situation of being a woman in this culture. A skilled facilitator will know how and when to use the most appropriate approach. It is still up to the woman to decide what is best for her.

The authors of this discussion paper feel that both approaches have strong merit and that a combination of elements of the two approaches may be best suited to FSW; however, in all of these discussions, it must be remembered that the women themselves must have a strong voice in the way they choose to deal with their own issues as a survivor.

 

Issue #1: Types of Programs: Group vs Individual

Discussion

Interventions for survivors of abuse can take two approaches: group programs and individual counselling. There is a political philosophy regarding group vs individual treatment for survivors of abuse. Sexual assault and violence against women are often viewed as social and political problems (i.e., problems of the "group") rather than problems about specific individuals. Therefore, group programs for survivors of abuse help women to understand that their experiences are not unique but like the experiences of many other women. Groups also serve to break the silence about violence against women and favour the emergence of solidarity among women. Most women will not, at first, feel comfortable about participating in a group, but after they experience it, the majority find it a very empowering experience.

Group programs may be more beneficial in reducing women's isolation and in allowing them to connect their experience to the social structure (this approach was favoured by the participants). It is much more difficult to do this individually and also makes for a much lengthier process as well. However, all FSW should have a choice of whether to participate in group programs or individual counselling to deal with issues of past abuse and victimization. Following participation in group programs women offenders should also have the opportunity to continue with individual counselling if they wish. Some may require it at the same time as they participate in the group sessions.

Group programs should reflect the community approach and style. This means that community participation of both facilitators and participants is necessary: the more varied the groups, the more beneficial this would be for the women. In this way, FSW would be exposed to the experiences and lives of many other women; this would create the support connection of shared experiences. It will help them understand that their experiences are the same as other women's and that violence against women is a societal and political problem rather than an individual problem. They are not alone.

The importance of contracting with community support groups/programs cannot be stressed enough as the development of the connection to others is an extremely important step for getting beyond victimization. CSC should make use of groups which already exist in the community for the women who can leave the facility. CSC should also encourage community groups to hold their meetings in the facilities to provide services to those women who are not eligible for release. This may be especially helpful for long term offenders who do not have access to early conditional release.

If FSW participate in survivors groups in the community, they must be allowed to fulfil certain responsibilities that go along with such group membership. It is normal for group members (non-offenders) to have human responsibilities to other community members of the group. These are normal peer relationships that are part of a community group and the incarcerated women should be permitted to be part of these types of relationships. The women should be able to easily contact other group members for support and friendship as well as have community members contact them in the facility.

Related to this issue was support for the notion that lesbian women will need to have their own groups and services as some of their issues differ from those of heterosexuals. It may not be possible to have separate groups for both lesbian and heterosexual women, however, the important goal to be achieved is that women establish contact and connections with specific groups and resources in the community that can address their specific needs. Local ethno-cultural women's groups must also be contacted so that women of colour and/or visible minority group women's needs can be appropriately addressed.

However, another position voiced at the session was that support groups must be independent of culture, ethnic origin and sexual orientation; that separating women according to sexual orientation, ethno-cultural diversity or religious differences may only serve to compartmentalize and segregate women further instead of bringing them together.

Other issues of importance 3 regarding group programs are:

1. women have to learn when to disclose certain information, they have to learn when safety has been established in the group.

2. other staff and FSW should also receive special care - education/awareness of survivors issues - so they are aware of the emotions the participant may experience and can respond appropriately for both the women and themselves.

Recommendations:

1. All women offenders shall have a choice of whether to participate in group programs or individual counselling.

2. The CSC should make use of groups which already exist in the community for those women who can leave the facility.

3. The CSC should encourage community groups to come into the facilities to provide services, and as well, the FSW should be permitted to have normal peer relationships with non-CSC group members.

4. Contact should be established with ethno-cultural women's groups and lesbian groups so that women can connect with community groups that reflect their own lifestyles and are more suited at meeting some of their needs.

 

Issue #2: Different Types of Programs for Different Types of Trauma

Discussion

The group consensus was that two types of programs should be offered: an education/awareness program (it should be strongly encouraged that all women participate in such a program) and a more intensive group support program. Both programs should include elements of information exchange, skill building and healing.

For educational purposes different programs based on different types of abuse are not considered necessary. Issues for all survivors of trauma and violence are really issues of violence against women and therefore share many commonalties. However, it is important to have a group leader that can speak to all types of violence and abuse. In terms of therapeutic services, the most effective groups integrate the clientele but recognize the need for different follow-up services. It is essential that connections and links are made regarding all types of abuse in all groups and the facilitator must have this knowledge to do so.

Support/intervention groups should be solution focused and encourage resource building among the women, positive coping mechanisms, skills training, education and establishing interpersonal support systems, as well as helping the women deal with their personal trauma.

Discussion also included the issue of closed and open group formats. A closed group means that for the length of the program (usually this is a specific time frame) no new participants can join the group. An open group allows participants to join at any time and is often an ongoing program without an end date. Both types offer different benefits and serve different purposes (though both types of groups must be led by two experienced facilitators). Self-directed learning fits better with an open group whereas closed groups may allow for deeper trust and intimacy with the facilitator and group members as well as less risk and a stronger emotional connection. An open group, on the other hand, tends to be more cognitive and alliance based and less emotional and personal; however, there is an important element of history and continuity in open groups. Women who have been involved over a certain period of time can assist the new members to become part of the group; the older members develop a more in-depth ability to understand and assist others as well as increasing their self-esteem through this process. However, in either type of group, it is the facilitator who may have the most important role to play in building trust and emotional openness in the group. It is the facilitator's ability that will serve to inspire both personal and emotional content.

For women who are not ready to participate in group or individual counselling it was suggested that The Courage to Heal 4 workbook be purchased for those women. The facilitator can also suggest other resources for both women who participate in the group and those who do not.

While still respecting the rules developed by the group, women should be able to voluntarily leave the group. Allowance should be made for them to return, as it is the women who will know if and when they are ready to take the steps necessary to get beyond their victimization.

Recommendations:

1. Two types of programs should be offered: an education/awareness program and a more intervention-oriented program. The education/awareness program should be available to women as a first step to dealing with abuse and trauma issues and then more intensive programs/services should act as a follow up to this.

2. The education program does not need to differentiate between different types of trauma survived.

3. All groups that deal with survivors issues should be solution focused and encourage resource building among the women.

4. Both open and closed group formats can be beneficial. It should be up to the FSW as to which type of program they prefer.

5. All women should have access to individual counselling.

6. Encourage access to the Courage to Heal workbook and tapes.

7. Facilitators should choose what books/materials should be made available to the women to help them heal. Education and literacy levels must also be respected.

 

Issue #3: Confidentiality and Information Sharing

Discussion

There are several important issues related to confidentiality and information-sharing including disclosure of information and reporting.

This situation is one of victimization, not aggression. There is no direct link established between victimization and criminal behaviour and it should not be treated as such. It is therefore a personal choice of the woman whether she wishes to disclose the situation or not to CSC 5. Coercion to disclose is absolutely unacceptable in these situations. Regardless of whether an offender chooses to participate in a group program or individual counselling to deal with issues of past abuse, disclosure to CSC of prior victimization shall in no way be a mandatory requirement for entry into a program (the other benefit to this is that the facilitator is not perceived by the FSW as part of the "system". This will help to establish trust between the facilitators and the group members). Furthermore, offenders shall not be subjected to either rewards or punishments (e.g. as a brownie point for conditional release) for participation in programs for survivors of abuse.

Discussion also centred on how much the CSC needs to know from the facilitator and what the facilitator needs to know from the CSC.

It was generally felt that the facilitator did not need to be advised of any major changes in a women's status; that they would find out from either the woman herself during the group or from the group if the woman was unable to attend that day. In some institutional programs if a woman is extremely upset prior to a session, the facilitator will be advised of this, but the reasons for the difficulty (i.e., confidential information) is not divulged. CSC is bound by the Privacy Act in these areas. Other facilitators felt it was preferable to have the woman herself explain the ongoing situation rather than the facilitator being primed by staff. In this way, the "telling tales" dynamic is reduced and the power balance of the group is also maintained.

Before a woman starts a program it is imperative that she know what information sharing will be required. The facilitator has an obligation to negotiate with any FSW coming into the group as to what is expected of them and what they can expect from the group.

Reporting information to CSC is another important area that was discussed at some length. It is the authors' opinion that there was still some disagreement between the community experts and the CSC representatives at the session about reporting needs of CSC.

The community experts felt that given the criteria established in the second paragraph in this section, that if it is the woman's choice on whether or not she discloses sexual abuse to CSC then why does CSC need to understand the reasons why a woman chooses to leave a program. The important idea is that the woman should be able to make her own decisions and that it is more important that she feel able to do that without negative consequences or having to formally justify her decision. This may be the only control she is able to exert over her situation. As no direct link has been made to abuse as a criminogenic factor, the woman must feel free to attend or not; otherwise she is being coerced. CSC simply needs to be told that she has decided to not continue at this time. If there is a threat of harm to herself or to others, CSC would need to know, but apart from this situation, any other information does not need to be provided to CSC.

Given CSC's legal responsiblity to protect society, the offenders in our care and the individual offender herself, CSC representatives felt that those staff involved with the woman do need to know more information than would generally be shared in a voluntary community agency. This is not to say that CSC should be made aware of personal details of the therapy, but rather that staff be provided with a general idea about progress, skill development, difficult phases that a woman is going through, etc.

For example, it may be helpful for CSC to understand why a woman chooses to leave the program in order to assist her (or not) in the most appropriate manner possible. If she is having flashbacks, staff may need to be aware of this so they can react appropriately and not do anything to further aggravate her situation.

On a more pragmatic level, if for example, a woman has been granted a Temporary Absence program in order to attend a community survivor's program CSC needs to know if she has chosen to stop, as this would result in changes to the TA program. This is CSC's legal responsiblity.

Another pitfall that CSC fell into in the past and will attempt to avoid in the future is the compartmenatlizing of treatment and women asking for assistance from every therapist available without staff and therapists knowing about the duplication. The approach of the new facilities is an holisitic and integrated approach and therapists and staff need to be aware of some information in order to help the women properly identify their needs and the best way to meet those needs.

As detailed in the Correctional Program Strategy for FSW document, such information-sharing protocols must be clearly detailed in contracts with the community agencies to ensure consistency and understanding.

It is the authors' belief that this is an area that requires further discussion with CSC staff, in order to ensure that CSC is not legally negligent nor exhibits any "coercive" behaviour towards women who are trying to deal with past abuse.

Recommendations:

1. Disclosure of prior victimization must not be a requirement for entry into a program.

2. Offenders shall not be subjected to either rewards or punishments for participation in programs for survivors of abuse.

3. FSW must be fully aware of the information-sharing obligations prior to beginning a program.

4. Information-sharing protocols will be outlined in the initial contract (as described in the Correctional Program Strategy for FSW ).

5. It is up to each facilitator to decide what type of information on the woman she will need from CSC (with the woman's consent as per the Privacy Act).

6. In cases where the security of a person, the facility or the individual is threatened, CSC must be informed by the facilitator.

 

Issue #4: Credentials for Facilitators

Discussion

Credentials for facilitators should not necessarily stress professional accreditation; rather, knowledge and skills are more important. Professional accreditation does not necessarily guarantee that the facilitator will have the knowledge and skills that are required. For this reason, professional accreditation can not be the only factor considered in selecting a facilitator. Regardless of whether or not contractors are accredited, they should be aware of boundary issues (professionalism, confidentiality, self-care, etc) surrounding working with survivors of abuse.

Programs should be delivered by qualified, well-trained facilitators as the effectiveness of any correctional program is often determined by the quality of the program provider. The list below describes the ideal facilitator and it may be difficult to find two individuals (see page 15) who fulfill all the criteria. Facilitators should be selected based on the following qualities:

Adheres to the principles of the Correctional Program Strategy model developed for FSW.

Knowledge of feminist intervention techniques; belief in a woman's right to equality.

Connection and participation with women's advocacy groups, equality seeking women's groups and other community groups.

Provides an holistic approach (mind, body, spirit).

Knowledge of (and preferably experience with) women offenders and criminal behaviour.

Specifically trained in individual counseling (if hired for one-to-one counseling); specifically trained to facilitate groups (if hired to facilitate groups).

Successful experience in facilitating groups of high-need/high-risk women.

Sensitive to group dynamics, ability to stimulate groups and promote interest and high activity levels while maintaining focus. Enthusiasm.

Ability to relate positively and with empathy with women, but to do so in a way that does not compromise the rules and regulations of the facility.

Life experience or personal qualities that provide empathic understanding of program participants.

Ability to challenge in a supportive manner.

Sensitive to diversity, ability to reflect the diversity of the group and ability to meet the needs of the different women.

Knowledge of trauma, recovery, grief and the impact of violence on women and children.

Above average verbal skills.

Ability to manage stress.

Active and attentive listening skills.

Is not for profit.

Ability to help women to develop skills so that they can adopt new behaviour so they can neutralize "victim" behaviours.

Above average interpersonal skills, and, in particular, the social/cognitive skills she/he wishes the women to acquire:

•  social perspective taking (ability to see other peoples' points of view);

•  effective problem solving;

•  well developed values;

•  critical reasoning and effective conflict management (sound judgment, objectivity and flexibility);

•  openness to new ideas;

•  willingness to consider views of participants, the facility and program developers, which may not conform with their own.

 

Recommendations:

1. Knowledge and skills are more important than professional accreditation for facilitators.

2. Every effort should be made to ensure that facilitators have the above-mentioned credentials.

 

Issue #5: Program Safeguards

Discussion

There were three (3) main areas of focus in this discussion:

a. a group program must have two(2) facilitators;

b. facilitators must practise self-care; and,

c. facilitators must respect professional boundaries.

Having two facilitators allows both individuals to see the full picture. Each facilitator may have a different background that will lend itself to overall program effectiveness and understanding of the woman's issues. It models the "connection" with other women that the program is trying to engender in the participants. It also reduces misunderstandings, models cooperation, does not run the risk of having only one "expert" that the participants feel they can rely on; and, the facilitators aren't perceived as strange/exceptional. Facilitators may be skilled in different areas and can provide more to the participants. They are also in a better position not to miss things and can evaluate situations better.

Working with survivors can be very exhausting and emotionally draining. It is essential that facilitators have a support system in place for themselves, in order to relieve stress and emotional overload. Having two (2) facilitators is one of the main ways to cope with this stress.

It is also imperative that professional boundaries be respected, that facilitators build trust in a non-threatening, but professional and respectful manner. Facilitators must also be aware of the position and functions of facility staff and the professional obligations that they too must respect.

Recommendations

1. Group programs for survivors must have two facilitators.

2. Facilitators must practise self-care and respect professional boundaries.

 

Issue #6: Long Term Offenders

Discussion

This is an area that will need a studied and focused approach. Since the brainstorming session, CSC has completed a literature review entitled Literature Review - Long Term Federally Sentenced Women (Dec 1994) which studies the various stages that a woman sentenced to a long term goes through as well as management needs of the women. Some of the preliminary information that had already been developed was shared with the session participants. Initial impressions are outlined below.

The central issue is that the long term offenders will not be able to leave the facility. It will be imperative that community groups (equality-seeking women's groups are a particular asset) are encouraged to come into the facility and hold their sessions there with the participation of a few incarcerated women. This will create a connection to the community for both the facility and the individual FSW and will assist in the development of a support system for the women. Access to telephones and literature is also essential in order to maintain the connections created.

Long term offenders could eventually be trained to be program deliverers (e.g. co-facilitate education/awareness groups). They can become a valuable resource to the other women.

The other related topic was remuneration. The group felt that the FSW should be paid as would an outside resource if she is providing education/awareness programs (training and supervision would be required). This may be difficult given the pay structure within the CSC, but is an area to be reviewed.

Recommendations:

1. Responding to the primary needs of the FSW is the priority.

2. Invite equality seeking women's groups as well as other women's groups into the facility to provide their programming there.

3. Ensure access to telephones so the women can participate as a full, supportive member of the group.

4. Ensure access to literature and documentation to assist women to gain more knowledge about equality in society as well as information on other women-centred topics.

5. Develop/enhance facilitator/peer-training so that long term offenders can eventually deliver the education program.

6. Pay structure for inmate program deliverers to be reviewed and studied.

 

Issue #7: Evaluation

Discussion

It may be more difficult to get standardized, quantified outcome data for this type of program - how the women changed; how much their self-esteem increased, etc. Pre- and post testing was not discussed in much detail as these programs are seen as a more personal type of program. However, measures do exist for this type of evaluation and the best ones should be considered. If this type of evaluation is considered a thorough explanation should be given to the women prior to participating in the evaluation so that they understand the importance of and the reasons for evaluating the program.

Evaluation should be three-fold:

1. evaluation by facilitator of the program and of the participant;

2. evaluation by participant of the program, the facilitator and of herself.

3. outside, independent evaluation of the program.

The areas that deal with the facilitator should be woven into the contract. CSC should know prior to the program beginning what type of program is being offered. The facilitator should keep a record of changes made to the program and why those changes were made.

Periodic outside, independent program evaluation is also an essential tool to good program development and delivery. As with any program, an outside evaluation can assist CSC in monitoring the contract to ensure that the program provided is the program that was contracted for.

Recommendations:

1. Evaluation should be three-fold:

a. participant evaluation of the facilitator, the program and of herself could be incorporated.

b. facilitator evaluation of the program and of the participants must be included in the contract.

c. outside evaluation will assist CSC to properly monitor the contract.

 

Issue #8: Research

Discussion

There was little time left to focus on a discussion of research, however a couple of points were made. It was felt that the reaction or the behaviour chosen in response to violence may depend on several factors. Longtitudinal research on a specific element may be one of the few ways to enlighten the facilitator/therapist and provide them with new intervention approaches. It was believed that research in this area would be more qualitative rather than quantitative.

Some possible areas of further research study might include:

•  the links of abuse on other problems such as substance abuse

repetition of patterns - for example the inter-generational cycle of family violence

impact on being a survivor on their lives

self-injurious behaviour (including eating disorders, etc.)

can a successful community program work in an institutional setting?

Recommendations:

1. further discussion and development are needed in the research area.

 

Appendix 1 - List of Recommendations of the Community Experts

 

ISSUE # 1: TYPES OF PROGRAMS: GROUP vs INDIVIDUAL

1. All women offenders shall have a choice of whether to participate in group programs or individual counselling.

2. The CSC should make use of groups which already exist in the community for those women who can leave the facility.

3. The CSC should encourage community groups to come into the facilities to provide services, and as well, the FSW should be permitted to have normal peer relationships with non-CSC group members.

4. Contact should be established with ethno-cultural women's groups and lesbian groups so that women can connect with community groups that reflect their own lifestyles and are more suited at meeting some of their needs.

 

ISSUE # 2: DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROGRAMS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAUMA

1. Two types of programs should be offered: an education/awareness program and a more intervention-oriented program. The education/awareness program should be available to women as a first step to dealing with survivors of abuse and trauma issues and then more intensive programs/services should act as a follow up to this.

2. The education program does not need to differentiate between different types of trauma survived.

3. All groups that deal with survivors issues should be solution focused and encourage resource building among the women.

4. Both open and closed group formats can be beneficial. It should be up to the FSW as to which type of program they prefer.

6. All women should have access to individual counselling.

5. Encourage access to the Courage to Heal workbook and tapes.

7. Facilitators should choose what books/materials should be made available to the women to help them heal. Education and literacy levels must also be respected.

 

ISSUE # 3: CONFIDENTIALITY AND INFORMATION SHARING

1. Disclosure of prior victimization must not be a requirement for entry into a program.

2. Offenders shall not be subjected to either rewards or punishments for participation in programs for survivors of abuse.

3. FSW must be fully aware of the information-sharing obligations prior to beginning a program.

4. Information-sharing protocols will be outlined in the initial contract (as described in the Correctional Program Strategy for FSW ).

5. It is up to each facilitator to decide what type of information on the woman she will need from CSC (with the woman's consent as per the Privacy Act).

6. In cases where the security of a person, the facility or the individual is threatened, CSC must be informed by the facilitator.

 

ISSUE # 4: CREDENTIALS FOR FACILITATORS 6

Adheres to the principles of the Correctional Program Strategy model developed for FSW.

Knowledge of feminist intervention techniques; belief in a woman's right to equality.

Connection and participation with women's advocacy groups, equality seeking women's groups and other community groups.

Provides an holistic approach (mind, body, spirit).

Knowledge of (and preferably experience with) women offenders and criminal behaviour.

Specifically trained in individual counseling (if hired for one-to-one counseling); specifically trained to facilitate groups (if hired to facilitate groups).

Successful experience in facilitating groups of high-need/high-risk women.

Sensitive to group dynamics, ability to stimulate groups and promote interest and high activity levels while maintaining focus. Enthusiasm.

Ability to relate positively and with empathy with women, but to do so in a way that does not compromise the rules and regulations of the facility.

Life experience or personal qualities that provide empathic understanding of program participants.

Ability to challenge in a supportive manner.

Sensitive to diversity, ability to reflect the diversity of the group and ability to meet the needs of the different women.

Knowledge of trauma, recovery, grief and the impact of violence on women and children.

Above average verbal skills.

Ability to manage stress.

Active and attentive listening skills.

Is not for profit.

Ability to help women to develop skills so that they can adopt new behaviour so they can neutralize "victim" behaviours.

Above average interpersonal skills, and, in particular, the social/cognitive skills she/he wishes the women to acquire:

a. social perspective taking (ability to see other peoples' points of view);

b. effective problem solving;

c. well developed values;

d. critical reasoning and effective conflict management (sound judgment, objectivity and flexibility);

e. openness to new ideas;

f. willingness to consider views of participants, the facility and program developers, which may not conform with their own.

6 The list of credentials as well as the recommendations are included here for ease of reference.

Recommendations:

1. Knowledge and skills are more important than professional accreditation for facilitators.

2. Every effort should be made to ensure that facilitators have the above-mentioned credentials.

 

ISSUE #5 : PROGRAM SAFEGUARDS

1. Group programs for survivors must have two facilitators.

2. Facilitators must practise self-care and respect professional boundaries.

 

ISSUE # 6: LONG TERM OFFENDERS

1. Responding to the primary needs of the FSW is the priority.

2. Invite equality seeking women's groups as well as other women's groups into the facility to provide their programming there.

3. Ensure access to telephones so the women can participate as a full, supportive member of the group.

4. Ensure access to literature and documentation to assist women to gain more knowledge about equality in society as well as information on other women-centred topics.

5. Develop/enhance facilitator/peer-training so that long term offenders can eventually deliver the education program.

6. Pay structure for program deliverers to be reviewed and studied.

ISSUE # 7: EVALUATION

1. Evaluation should be three-fold:

a. participant evaluation of the facilitator, the program and of herself could be incorporated.

b. facilitator evaluation of the program and of the participants must be included in the contract.

c. outside evaluation will assist CSC to properly monitor the contract.

 

ISSUE # 8: RESEARCH 7

Possible research areas:

the links of abuse on other problems such as substance abuse

repetition of patterns - for example the inter-generational cycle of family violence

impact on being a survivor on their lives

self-injurious behaviour (including eating disorders, etc.)

can a successful community program work in an institutional setting?

Recommendations:

1. Further discussion and development are needed in the research area.

 

Appendix 2 - Possible Topics to be Covered in a Survivor's Program

 

The following is based on the First Stage Sexual Abuse Group offered by the Amethyst Women's Addiction Centre 8 in Ottawa . It provides a general idea of some of the topics that need to be covered in survivors' support groups.

Objectives:

1. to allow participants to address their sense of shame, alientation and disconnectedness;

2. to develop an awareness of how reliance on chemicals (and etc.) has acted as a mechanism for coping with memories and feelings associated with past sexual abuse; to honour past coping mechanisms; to identify and share new self-affirming coping skills;

3. to develop an awareness and understanding of the various contexts in which sexual abuse occurs;

4. to develop an awareness of how experiences of sexual abuse have affected the participatns and continue to affect them and their relationships and to identify patterns they want to change;

5. to learn to set boundaries and limits.

Topics:

getting to know the other group members; building safety, sharing safely

coping - honouring the past, building a new future

identifiying the impact of abuse

empowerment - reviewing goals and tasks

coping today - expressing feelings now

getting in touch with loss

body image

sexuality and self-esteem

impact of abuse on relationships - identifying continuing patterns

how are we controlled today - how do we continue to try to control

 

Other Topics 9:

remembering, believing it happened and breaking the silence

understanding that it wasn't your fault

effects: recognizing the damage

coping: honouring what you did to survive

trusting yourself

grieving and mourning

anger

disclosures and confrontations

forgiveness?

spirituality,

resolution and moving on

the process of change

 

Appendix 3 - Participant List

 

Constance Bennett

Plaidoyer-Victimes (representative); teacher, Correctional Techniques

Kim Bulger

Counsellor, Amethyst House Women's Addiction Centre

Mary Haylock

Community Chaplain, Coverdale Court Work Services

Lynda Hoyle-Beehler

Case Management Officer, Prison for Women

Lee Lakeman

Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres

Elizabeth Massiah

Office for the Prevention of Family Violence, Community Program Committee-Edmonton Facility

Linda McLaren

Manager, Program Development & Implementation, Correctional Service of Canada

Luisa Mirabelli

Program Officer, Program Development & Implementation, Correctional Service of Canada

Gail Mooney

Portage Correctional Institute

Kim Pate

Executive Director, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Pat Vargas

Co-op Student, University of Waterloo , Federally Sentenced Women Program, Correctional Service of Canada

Lisa Watson

Senior Project Manager, Federally Sentenced Women Program, Correctional Service of Canada


1 Survey of Federally Sentenced Women , Shaw et al, 1990.
2 The reader will notice that some overlap occurred, but given its importance, the authors choose to repeat the information.
3 Some of these issues are addressed in the Correctional Program Strategy for FSW , in the section entitled "Elements of Effective Correctional Programs."
4 Bass, Ellen and Davis, Laura, The Courage to Heal, - A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse , Harper and Row, 1988. Equivalent French language resources are being sought.
5 The extent to which this issue will be addressed in the Initial Assessment needs to be reviewed. If the decision is made to include it in the Initial Assessment, will this contradict the very strong opinion of the brainstorning session participants that the decision to disclose past abuse is totally the perogative of the FSW.
7 The list of possible research areas as well as the recommendations are included here for ease of reference.
8 Amethyst Women's Addiction Centre, 488 Wilbrod Street , Ottawa , Ontario K1N 6M8 , tel: 613-563-0363, fax: 613-565-2175
9 from Bass, Ellen and Davis, Laura, The Courage to Heal, Harper & Row, 1988