Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Book Reviews   |    
Correctional Psychology: Practice, Programming, and Administration
Reviewed by Margery Gans, Ed.D.
Psychiatric Services 2005; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.56.6.763
View Author and Article Information

edited by Barbara K. Schwartz; Kingston, New Jersey, Civic Research Institute, 2003, 514 pages. $125

text A A A

Barbara K. Schwartz, in her edited volume Correctional Psychology: Practice, Programming, and Administration, succeeds in her goal "to provide practical advice to the mental health profession on dealing with the most common issues encountered when delivering services within correctional institutions." Schwartz is a well-known researcher, program creator and director, and clinical consultant, with a specialty in sex offenders. This book provides a comprehensive overview of correctional psychology, including program creation and administration, clinical issues, and the needs of specific populations. It should be valuable to clinicians, researchers, administrators, officers, and other prison staff.

The book addresses a wide range of topics, with articles on different populations, including women, gang members, persons who are developmentally disabled, and those who are mentally ill. Programmatic descriptions cover general mental health units, programs for substance abusers, sex offenders, and the use of animals in treatment. Specific themes weave throughout the book—for example, the nature of correctional clinical work and the need to cooperate with correctional officers. Various authors mention the specific traits and strengths that clinicians want to have in correctional settings, including flexibility, self-awareness, the ability to stay calm in stressful and emergent situations, a sense of humor, and a life outside work. Pitfalls of working in prisons are identified—for example, physical threat, the danger of being manipulated and exploited by inmates, the danger of being drawn into the split between inmates and the institution, and the risk of acting out one's own needs (to rescue, to redeem, or to single-handedly rehabilitate) at the expense of clinical integrity. The importance of supervision is stressed.

Some chapters stand out because they sharpen one's critical perspective. Bob White's chapter on prison gangs vividly describes the dilemmas and obstacles to treatment presented by gangs. White raises the questions of treatability, prison culture, psychopathy, and treater vulnerability that need to be asked of treatment programs. Stephanie Baird, in her chapter on female offenders, identifies gender issues that are as relevant for male as for female offenders but rarely get raised in articles that take the male population as standard. Robert Prentky, in his chapter on treatment of sex offenders, links therapeutic ideas to outcome research. The reader is reminded to look for these connections when reviewing other treatment programs. It would have been useful to include a chapter about the differences and overlap between psychopathic and antisocial personalities, and the difficulty of establishing alliances with men who may never have had alliances and who use connection to subvert alliance. A chapter on "men with attitude" touches on this issue in stressing attention to the individual in the application of a more classical group therapy approach to work with violent and dangerous men, although this is not the chapter's primary theme.

In sum, Schwartz's book achieves its goal. It is a useful, readable, and, at times, thought-provoking overview of the field. It is a valuable resource for clinicians and for anyone who is interested in treatment in a correctional setting.

Dr. Gans is a licensed psychologist working with the Bridgewater Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in Massachusetts and a senior clinician with University Health Services, Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.




CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Related Content
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 33.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 50.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4th Edition > Chapter 8.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 16.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 42.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News