Offender and Facilitator Engagement in Offending Behaviour Programmes

Emma Holdsworth, Erica Bowen, Sarah Brown, Douglas Howat

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


A review of 47 studies revealed inconsistent definitions and assessments of offender engagement and no definitions or assessments of facilitator engagement. A model of offender engagement is presented which clarifies the role of the proxies researchers have employed for engagement. Following this review, an extensive constructivist grounded theory for offender and facilitator engagement was developed, involving 23 program facilitators and 28 offenders. Models of engagement are presented which explain the process of engagement from the perspectives of both offenders and facilitators. Offenders’ perceptions of engagement revealed the process of ‘moving on’, represented by a number of conceptual categories including early ambivalence, building group cohesion, and getting somewhere. Facilitators’ perceptions revealed the importance of setting the scene to deal with resistance and that building engagement involved personalizing treatment frameworks using ‘the hook’, a cornerstone of treatment that can be likened to the working alliance. Both facilitators ‘and offenders’ perspectives revealed a number of barriers to engagement, rooted in program and referral factors. The constructivist grounded theory provides an essential insight into the nature of the process of engagement from the perspectives of those involved in the process of rehabilitation. The numerous implications for offender rehabilitation research and practice are discussed. not reliably infer engagement. Participation and out of session behaviors in conjunction with one another, reflecting a series of active responses to treatment, may more reliably reflect engagement in treatment and change. Client/offender demographics appeared to be of little value in predicting engagement while treatment factors were more consistently related to engagement, particularly the therapeutic relationship. A model of engagement is presented which may help to clarify the role of engagement variables.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventXXXIVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health - Sigmund Freud University, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 12 Jul 201517 Jul 2015


ConferenceXXXIVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health


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