A study of interpersonal skills training groups with juvenile correctional officers
Bates, Jeffrey Michael
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The present study was an attempt to create and validate a psychoeducational group for Juvenile Correctional Officers entitled LEADERS (Listening Empathically And Discerning Empathic Relationship Skills). The review of the literature cites the need for the development for psychoeducational training for Juvenile Correctional Officers. However, there is a paucity of studies that address this established need. Based on past research and clinical experience, a group protocol was created that addresses three main content areas: adolescent development, communication skills, and empathy training. The topics of correctional roles and stress/burnout were also included. Central to the conceptualization of the LEADERS program, group process was emphasized and included in the group design. Following the development of the LEADERS program, this group protocol was implemented in a Southeastern Regional Youth Detention Center. Thirty-one Juvenile Correctional Officers completed the LEADERS group. Four separate instruments were used to evaluate the LEADERS program: a correctional role measure, an empathy measure, a measure of social interest, and a group measure. The sample as a whole showed a statistically significant increase in Empathic Concern, which is a component of empathy, and each of the individual groups showed a statistically significant increase on at least on scale utilized for the purposes of this study. In addition, Social Interest was best predicted by the Perspective Taking component of empathy (as measured by the IRI). However, Social Interest was not related to the scores on the CRI. Results from the Critical Incidence Inventory suggest that the therapeutic factors of universality and imparting information were found to be most salient in the LEADERS groups. The small sample size in this study greatly limited the power of the inferential testing that was used to evaluate the group itself. However, through a combination of moderate and large effect sizes (and several more small effect sizes), along with the results from the group measure used in this study, additional work groupwork with correctional officers is warranted.