Type:   Service

 Delivery Method:  Group Facilitation

 Service Description:

Most line staff practitioners in currently in corrections, regardless of their titles (e.g., program specialist, residential case manager, probation or parole officer, etc.) function primarily as case managers, with caseloads and all attendant responsibilities that come with them. These staff sometimes aspire to operate as change agents, that actually impact the trajectory of their clients’ lives.  But they rarely do so consistently or effectively with regard to clients altering their most pressing criminogenic factors (i.e., poor self-regulation skills, antisocial attitudes and peers). In order for staff to be effective in engaging clients in the latter kinds of change, practitioners need a model to practice with sufficiently so they can truly blend or integrate numerous different EBP skills.

A relatively new trend in corrections is the development of practice models that integrate deliberately and intelligently a selection of evidence-based practices and principles (e.g., role clarification, MI, cognitive coaching, and so forth) into a trainable model. When trained and coached adequately these models enable line staff to flexibly and routinely use a blend of evidence-based skills within the context of a 20-25 minute supervision session.  Thus far, research (Bogue, et al, 2008; Bonta, et al, 2011; Robinson, et al, 2012) consistently shows that these models are capable of significant reductions in recidivism and  the implementation of these models in itself, can lead to important, positive organizational change.

Other studies (Bonta, et al, 2008; Bourgon, et al, 2011; Lowenkamp, et al, 2013) also have showed  that officers, without training in a practice model, predominantly discussed terms and conditions and lower level criminogenic case factors during supervision sessions.  Seldom, if ever, do officers discuss clients’ attitudes & beliefs, their antisocial peers or their issues with poor self-regulation skills, within supervision sessions in any depth.  In short, the studies have found that though these officers had been trained in the Risk-Need-Responsivity principles, their practices are far from being aligned with the need principle.  Implementation of Practice Models, in contrast, have yielded significant lower recidivism rates, the causal ingredient being not participation in a formal treatment program, but a simple dose of training and coaching for the supervising officers.


  • Through the use of a multi-EBP approach incorporating different tools as required for the situation on hand, agencies are becoming far more effective.
  • Agencies also pursuing the implementation of practice models enjoy an enhanced level of adaptability to clients’ varying needs.
  • Practice models constitute a “Swiss Army Knife” approach to supervision in corrections, leveraging the synergy from a number of skills, techniques and technologies to achieve its objectives.

Why JSAT ?   

  • JSAT recognizes the degree of adaptive change most agencies require in order to successfully adopt a Practice Model and bring it to full implementation with fidelity. Consequently JSAT uses the Building Blocks Model (BBM) by Bas Vogelvang (2010) to assist supervision units in co-creating their own practice models along each organization’s unique team learning process.
  • JSAT places emphasis on the staff empowerment necessary to launch a BBM, which invariably requires training and coaching specifically, geared for and delivered to senior managers, as well as a counterpart for mid-managers, prior to training line staff.
  • Since the first publication on practice models in corrections (Bogue, et al, 2008) JSAT has been a leader in exploring and promoting the utility of practice models in corrections.
  • JSAT designed and co-implemented a generic, public domain practice model deliberately incorporating features from all existing models in Ramsey Co. Community Corrections in 2012. The original five unit pilot has since been determined to be successful in terms of both process and outcome evaluations.

 Technical Description:

Practice Models are integrated sets of EBP skills that an agency believes will result in preferred public safety outcomes if they are supported by the agency and adhered to with fidelity by its officers. As such, practice models are a powerful means of organizing and executing supervision for higher risk community corrections clients.  More specifically, A practice model consists of the core practices or components of practice that are considered sufficient to produce a desired effect or outcome, within the structure of a routine professional session. In the case of corrections and human services in general, we are seeing aspects of various EBPs progressively being incorporated into routine practice. This ultimately results in new practice models for probation, parole and other corrections sectors. In contrast with the integrative quality in Practice Models, training isolated practices frequently generate an issue of implementation fatigue.

The practice model that appears to be emerging for corrections is a highly iterative process comprised of variations on four key components:

  1. Engagement/ relationship building (Role Clarification and Motivational Interviewing)
  2. On-going assessment (RNR principles)
  3. CBT coaching (e.g., IBIS, STICS, STAR, COMBINES)
  4. Change/ Case Planning (SMART Planning)

Engagement and relationship building, assessment, CBT skill coaching and change planning all are best understood and executed as on-going and re-occurring processes rather than discreet events.

Practice Models’ four principle components are each emphasized more at various stages of the supervision process than others. What they share in common is that they will all be used not just more than once, but iteratively over the course of supervision as it proceeds and the working alliance grows.

As client risk factors are surpassed by protective factors in a given criminogenic area of concern, the case focus naturally shifts to the next priority, mutually determined by the supervision officer and the client. Thus, the resulting practice model is a set of processes that come together in a way that more closely mimics how people naturally change, one step and one interaction at a time.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s