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Probation and Parole: Supervision - Casework Supervision

offender approach relationship treatment

The traditional approach to probation and parole supervision has been the casework approach. Many definitions of casework have been offered. Bowers has provided a frequently cited definition: "[C]asework is an area in which knowledge of the science of human relations and skills in relationships are used to mobilize capacities in the individual and resources in the community appropriate for better adjustment between the client and all or any part of his total environment" (p. 127).

It is apparent that the basic element in casework is the nature of the relationship between the caseworker and the individual in trouble. It is also obvious from these definitions that casework emphasizes changing the behavior of the offender through the development of a supportive one-to-one relationship. Because of the closeness, this approach views the caseworker as the sole, or at least the primary, agent of treatment for the client.

Casework is so extensively used in probation and parole supervision that it is considered the "norm" as a service provision strategy. It basically follows the medical model of corrections in which the supervising officer, through a one-toone relationship, diagnoses the offender, formulates a treatment strategy, implements that strategy and, finally, evaluates the offender in light of the treatment.

Following this approach, the probation or parole officer attempts to bring about a mutual interaction with the offender in an effort to promote a psychological and social atmosphere that will enable the offender to be more self-accepting and to interact more acceptably with others. In other words, through the use of this close, helping relationship, the officer attempts to change (positively) the behavior of the offender. Because of the close relationship required by the casework approach, the officer is the primary agent of treatment.

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