Webinar presenter Jim Newman answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Community Supervision, and Behavior Change: Techniques that Work. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: As corrections officers, how do we work to facilitate change in an individual who’s not committed or motivated to change?
Jim Newman: That’s the fifty-cent question, right? It’s hard, right? You’ve got to find something that motivates them. Years ago I was with a person with NCCD and we were talking about case planning. When you go to your case planning, you’re trying to determine which of the criminogenic need do you want to focus on first and if you say to someone, “Hey I think you got this drug and alcohol problem. We should focus on that.” They come back to you and say, “I don’t have that.” You say well you also have anger management, “well I might have a little one.” Now you’ve got something there to work in but you’re going to have to identify that motivation. It may not always be easy. You may have to dig deep to find it but there is a motivation there and, in some instances, there may not be but if its worst for the worst it may not be there but it’s not something you’re going to be just able to wave a stick at and be able to find. You’re going to have to dig into it. You’re going to have to look at their background. You’re going to have to understand what is driving them and see if you can turn that and use that motivation to your benefit.
Aaron: Definitely understand that other techniques that we’ve talked about on the clearinghouse like a motivational interview and things like that and the things that you talked about. Trying to identify the underlying things that motivate them not trying to dictate them on what should interest them so great advice, James.
Audience Question: How do we encourage our co-workers to engage more with juveniles and learn their barriers and problems to build skills and encourage accountability and ultimately empower these children.
Jim Newman: That’s a really interesting question too and a lot of times when we’re out there talking about our products and we have a product that is for behavior change and it’s a technology product and when we talk to the chief or the director of agencies, we don’t talk about the fact that we can help change the behavior of the clients, we also talk about the fact that we also have the ability with these products to change the behavior of the officers, the dynamic changes. We’re changing the way we’re asking them to communicate. We’re incorporating other new skills to it. We’re making things easier. A lot of times officers just sit in their way, they don’t want to take any more work, their caseloads are way too big and everything looks like, “oh you’re just adding on to me, adding on to my workload.” These technologies really can help reduce that workload and allow you to be able to separate out the kids that need your everyday attention to the kid that may only need to see you once a month and you’re going to use technology in-between. I think if they start to see the benefits of that and not just seeing the increase of workload but actually seeing a way to reduce workload, these are ways that they will start to adapt to changing and integrating what they’re doing but I think technology played a part in that and also the ability to show them that these things work and that you can reduce their workload.
Audience Question: Do you have a recommended reminder app that we can use with our clients and then pre-empt us to use especially one that’s not going to cost us anything?
Jim Newman: Well you know everything–there’s pretty much nothing out there that’s going to cost you nothing. There are numbers of technology out there. I’m happy to–you know send me an e-mail. I’m happy to address that. I don’t want to get into talking about technologies that can or can’t help on this call. I don’t want to turn this into a sales call or anyway, shape, or form. So if you want that information, send me an e-mail, we’ll set up a call, I’m happy to answer understanding your situation and pointing you in the right direction. Our stuff might work for you, might not. I’m really good at being able to say no, that’s not for you. Here’s to other three players you might look at but depending exactly on what you want to do, how you want to do it, how you want to integrate it, all of those types of things then all its a much bigger picture then, just name a technology for me.
Audience Question: What trends are you seeing in terms of probation officers using their smartphones to communicate with clients and know you mentioned 50-50 kind of what you would expect with the polling. Can you talk a little bit more about that or they’re just using it for email and text messages?
Jim Newman: We’re seeing first off, that not every agency supplies phones to their officers. We are seeing more and more getting phones and some level of technology like tablets they can take into the field and things like that but what we’re seeing here is more of utilizing the phone to call the person, text to the person, e-mail with the person. Now, the concern that I always have with that is none of those guarantee deliveries. None of those tell you that you’re actually talking to the individual you need to be talking to and there’s also other issues with regards to standard everyday text messaging. Text messaging is a great thing for communication but it may not be the greatest thing to communicate with your client. Your clients are disorganized and text messaging is the most disorganized thing you’re going to be able to find. It’s a flow of consciousness so it may be counterproductive to produce standard text messaging for the purposes of communicating but we see that we also see the problems of that text messaging being on the phone, you’re going to get warrants to get it if you need it. So there are better ways out there, there are technologies on apps that allow you to be able to communicate, document your phone numbers, things of that nature. The other problem that you have with technology right now is that especially text messaging, once you started text messaging with someone, there’s no way of shutting it off, right? They’re going to be able to text you, they have your phone number. You got to be really careful when you’re doing it. You got to understand the motivation on why you’re doing it but there are better ways of doing it with technologies that will fix a lot of those issues but we see technology, we see the phone being a major player being to help questionnaires and other types of things that can be done from the phone.
Audience Question: How would you incorporate the small step approach for re-entry facilities?
Jim Newman: That’s probably a little out of my comfort zone but you know the re-entry area again is prepping them for all the things that you’re wanting them to do and the things that you expect them to do once you get on the outside. Again, it probably gets back to get dressed, take a shower, do this, do that while they’re in the re-entry facility to making sure that they are prepared to start their day and giving them a good foundation to be able to work their way to things you’re going to want them to do and laying out that road map for them in very small steps, again, all those life skills, everything that they’re going to need on the outside. You’re going to need to reinforce with them before they get there and then probably continue to reinforce with them once they’re on the outside.
Audience Question: Do you feel in working with juveniles it is beneficial to send mirror messages to parents and guardians as well?
Jim Newman: Great question. We feel not just for juveniles, we feel that the mirror is for anybody, for adults also. Involving the family unit, involving the support unit, it’s key. When you’re looking at technology, the ability to get these reminders to them but making sure that they know that that support staff, support group, knows that, “I’ve got an appointment on the 23rd.” but they can’t be the one to respond to it. What the person that needs to respond to it is your client and to me what you’re really looking for is technologies that affect that and be able to get those messages out, making sure that it’s your client that’s responding to it but making sure that everybody that needs to be involved is involved. So it’s not just a juvenile, it’s also the adult too who needs that extra reinforcement, that extra pat on the back from the people there to support him.
Audience Question: Are you familiar with any studies from the health, medical, or substance abuse field that talk about small steps intervention and how it can decrease no-shows? Are you familiar with any studies that you might be able to share that provide concrete information or evidence about the success of this small-step approach?
Jim Newman: Yeah just as Scott reached out to me, I’ll give you everything I have on it I believe there’s some of these have some good data that could be helpful in the area of, I guess you’re talking about drug courts and things like that.