Incarceration and the Family: A Review of Research and Promising Approaches for Serving Fathers and Families. 7.1.2 Couples Counseling

09/01/2008

Similar to marital education in a group format, couples counseling workshops have been used in prisons to strengthen intimate partner relationships (Showalter & Jones, 1980). In these sessions with small groups of couples or one-on-one, discussion may focus on (1) changes experienced by each partner during incarceration, (2) communication skills, (3) deciding to continue or terminate the relationship, (4) effects of stress and tension, and (5) community resources and support (Showalter & Jones, 1980). Social workers may work with the couples and provide feedback on their progress (Showalter & Jones, 1980). Additional recommendations for topics to address through one-on-one couples counseling include inmates’ and their partners’ negative feelings and concerns surrounding the incarceration and separation, joint decision-making and problem-solving, issues related to co-parenting and the inmate’s relationship with the children, and preparations for reentry (Carlson & Cervera, 1992; Kaslow, 1987). Individual and group counseling efforts for incarcerated fathers and their partners have not been empirically evaluated; therefore the efficacy of this approach is unknown.

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