It has been asserted that if you have powers of an authority (e.g., disciplinarian) such as being a probation officer or counselor in a correctional institution, this role is incompatible with psychotherapeutic work. This is absolutely not true.
If your client/resident is not breaking laws or regulations, he or she has nothing to fear. The work of the change agent focuses mainly upon identifying and correcting errors of thinking. A person is not in legal or other difficulty because of his or her thoughts. It is possible for the antisocial client simply to cease engaging in arrestable/rule breaking conduct. In terms of establishing a responsible base in life, that individual will make mistakes due to lack of experience. There is a significant difference between mistakes and violations. A change agent who has enforcement authority actually has a sort of leverage in the change process that therapists in many settings lack. In working with antisocial clients, this leverage is important.
Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.
Past Concepts of the Month
May 2002 -- Working to Eliminate Anger
June 2002 -- Self Esteem: What is it?
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