Benefits of hiring individuals on correctional supervision, myths about employing people with criminal records, and other information; click on the link below.
Social desirability is the tendency to give biased, distorted, and overly positive self- descriptions that portray oneself in a way that can make a favorable impression on others (Paulhus, 2002). Individuals who present themselves in a socially desirable manner attempt to appear overly virtuous by denying common yet undesirable traits or characteristics, and/or exaggerating uncommon but desirable traits. Social desirability has long been identified as a potential contaminate of self-report information, particularly from individuals on probation or parole where there is often a strong motivation to present oneself in a virtuous way.
Within the last few years correctional research has clearly shown that the working alliance or rapport between a correctional officer/staff member and offender is a critical component in reducing recidivism. Some research even attributes up to 40% of offender change or success to this relationship.
There are a number of tools available for measuring the working alliance with counseling patients. However, the Working Alliance Inventory-Short Revised - Offender Version (Tatman & Love, 2010) is the only known tool that has been validated and reliable for measuring the working alliance in offender populations.
Results from a recent (11-2010) administration of the WAI-SR Offender Version to offenders participating in the 5th District's Sex Offender Treatment Program revealed that, out of 137 offender surveys, 90% reported their working alliance with their probation/parole officer (PO) and treating psychologist as High Average or High. Given that the ratings include Low, Low Average, Average, High Average, and High, we are very excited about these results. Given the "non-voluntary" nature of the offenders participating in sex offender supervision and treatment, and the amount of personal disruption our SOTP rules can impose (e.g., no contact with minors, residency restrictions, electronic monitoring,...), these results are very encouraging and reaffirming of the great work our SOTP staff are doing.
Data is currently being gathered that will allow us to measure the relationship between working alliance scores and technical violations and revocations. Preliminary data suggests, as one would expect, that offenders who have strong relationships with their POs have lower rates of both technical violations and revocations, regardless of level of offender risk. We are looking forward to wrapping up this research and seeing the results.
As a supervisor, I find that the WAI-SR Offender Version provides very good information, and serves as a great coaching tool to provide positive feedback, and help identify a potential area of growth, about a factor tied so closely to offender recidivism and supervision success. Feel free to contact Dr. Tony Tatman (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in getting a copy of the WAI-SR Offender Version or learning more about this tool.
The depth of research on the working alliance with non-voluntary clients is quite limited, particularly in regard to the reliability of offender endorsements of the working alliance. Using a sample of convicted sexual offenders, court ordered to participate in treatment, this study compared anonymous endorsements on the Working Alliance Inventory-Short (WAI-S) with identifiable endorsements of the alliance with their probation/parole officer and group therapist. Counter to the studies hypothesis, results reveal no significant differences between anonymous and identifiable endorsements on the WAI-S. Implications for further research and use of the WAI-S with non-voluntary clients are discussed.
Troy Jones and Tony Tatman recently conducted a study where they investigated Jesness - R personality scale changes in convicted sexual offenders during the course of their treatment. Results reveal that statistically significant improvement was observed in the offenders´ emotional and cognitive maturity, ability to identify and process personal thoughts and emotions, as well as self-esteem and interpersonal interactions. Results also show that during the course of their treatment the sex offenders showed significant decreases in their tendencies to distort reality in order to fit their wants and needs. Lastly, results reveal a considerable reduction in the overall number of elevated personality scales from pretest to follow-up (24 months later). These findings provide compelling evidence of the effectiveness of sex offender treatment in decreasing criminogenic needs known to impact a sex offender´s risk to recidivate.