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Mulay, A.L. Kelly, E. Cain, N.M. (2017). Psychodynamic Treatment of the Criminal Offender: Making the Case for Longer-Term Treatment in a Longer-Term Setting. Psychodyn. Psych., 45(2):143-173.

(2017). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 45(2):143-173

Psychodynamic Treatment of the Criminal Offender: Making the Case for Longer-Term Treatment in a Longer-Term Setting

Abby L. Mulay, M.A., Elspeth Kelly, M.A. and Nicole M. Cain, Ph.D.

In recent years, prisons and jails have become de facto psychiatric hospitals, responsible for the care and treatment of individuals with serious mental illness. Historically, cognitive-behaviorally informed therapeutic approaches have been the treatment of choice among mental health practitioners in correctional settings. However, inmate-clients often present with complex diagnostic issues that are arguably better served by long-term treatment options, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy. We first review the nature of psychotherapy in the correctional setting, as well as treatment barriers and challenges faced by both mental health providers and inmate-clients. We then review treatment studies that examine the efficacy of various therapeutic techniques in correctional/forensic contexts. Finally, we argue that, due to the complex nature of psychopathology, average length of time incarcerated, and treatment issues that arise in this multifaceted and challenging setting, mental health treatment providers should consider providing psychodynamic treatment modalities when working with incarcerated individuals. We also argue that more research is needed to examine the efficacy of these treatment approaches with inmate-clients.

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