From 2nd to 6th of October 2023 probation professionals, managers and practitioners, from 9 different European jurisdictions participated at the 3rd edition of the International Training Course on Core Correctional Skills at the Centre for Legal Studies and Specialized Training, in Barcelona – Catalonia.
The one-week International Training School on Core Correctional Skills was able to refresh and update the core skills of the more experienced correctional staff while providing the newcomers with a solid and cutting-edge starting point.
During this week, core correctional skills (such as relationship skills, pro-social modelling, problem-solving, motivational interviewing and cognitive restructuring) were developed taking into account the basics but also the most up-to-date and evidence-based practices. For instance, building up the working alliance covered issues such as clarifying the role or socializing into the role, empathy, dealing with resistance and so on but was also looked into how to deal with power imbalance, how to maximize choices, how to ensure co-production and how to maintain and develop the working alliance.
As a novelty, this edition also tackled the issue of procedural justice and legitimacy and trauma, loss and grievance.
Guests such as Prof. Faye Taxman from George Mason University – USA, Prof. Lidija Arambasic – Croatia and Joseph Arvidson from Concordia University and Metropolitan State University – USA and others shared their knowledge and experience while discovering new insights into modern supervision practice, procedural justice and legitimacy and trauma-informed practice.
Ioan Durnescu shares his thoughts on how the week went and provides a recap of the ITSCCS. He emphasizes a key takeaway: “One important takeaway from this week is the reminder that we are human beings. It’s crucial that we invest in our work, but it’s equally important to take care of ourselves.”
What did the participants think?
Interview with speakers
Anna Esquerra, CEP Policy officer, gave a talk about pro-social modelling during the ITSCCS and shared some highlights from her presentation, explaining why this is important for professionals in the criminal justice system.
Lidija Arambašić, psychology professor and supervisor of psychosocial work, gave a session about “adequate support after trauma and loss as a possible way of preventing aggression/violence” during the ITSCCS and shared some highlights from her presentation, explaining why this is important for professionals in the criminal justice system.
Joe Arvidson has over 35 years of experience in Corrections. He is currently the Executive Director of The Paragon Group. Mr. Arvidson’s training and consulting clients have ranged from US Probation and Pre-Trial Services to smaller agencies and NGOs. He is also the founder of The Criminologist Media Group, serving as producer and host of The Criminologists podcast and the Criminologist YouTube channel. In this session, he focused on how the role of cognitive behavioural interventions and their place in the family of Core Correctional Skills. Topics such as the Thought-Behavior link, the role of Self-Talk, Cognitive Errors, and Perspective-taking were covered, with an emphasis on practical applications of the knowledge.
Laura Negredo is the Deputy Assistant Director-General for Open Regime and Alternative Measures in the Ministry of Interior, Spain. In her session, she explained some motivational techniques to help the clients in their process of change and to manage denial, resistance and ambivalence about change.
Drd. Iuliana Elena Carbunaru has currently worked as a Probation Inspector for the National Probation Directorate within the Romanian Ministry of Justice ensuring the development and implementation of international projects and promoting the probation system at a global level. In her session, she talked about how to analyse the styles and orientations for problem-solving and different models dealing with difficulties, such as problem definition, generating alternatives, decision-making, implementation and evaluation.
Faye Taxman, a University Professor at George Mason University, delivered a session on “Appropriate Conditions: Balancing Accountability with Relevance” during the ITSCCS. In this session, she explained how conditions are often used as a tool to hold individuals accountable. However, she also discussed how an excessive number of conditions can jeopardise success in supervision. In this interview, she shares key insights from her presentation, emphasising the significance of these concepts for professionals in the criminal justice system.