Indiana State Social Work Students to Help Young Mothers

INDIANA — The Indiana State University social work department has received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to launch a mentoring program for young mothers re-entering society after incarceration called Next Step 2 Healthy Families.

Robyn Lugar, associate professor of social work, is the project director for this first-of-its-kind grant that creates a university-community partnership to address the needs of young mothers through the Second Chance Act of 2007, which was enacted to break the cycle of criminal recidivism. The $341,000 grant is the first issued through the act and is focused on helping young mothers.

Without proper guidance, the women could return to the criminal justice system for any number of reasons especially with the inability to find resources to adapt to life post-incarceration, Lugar said. “These situations usually happen because of something silly, like they didn’t make an appointment with a probation officer or because they didn’t have childcare or transportation. They couldn’t get there, and they end up getting sent back because they missed that appointment,” Lugar said. “The mentoring and strengthening of young fathers has proven to be a successful model, so we are adopting a similar model for this project.”

The sub-awardee on the grant is the Next Step Foundation Inc, which is a local faith-based non-profit that provides services and programs for those in recovery from addiction. Dana Simons, an Indiana State graduate student who directs Next Step, helped design the programs necessary to fulfill the grant requirements and help to train those that want to volunteer as mentors.

The incarcerated women will require a special kind of mentor. People who are interested in becoming a mentor for Next Step will have to attend training to ensure that they are approaching mentorship from a place of respect and understanding — not judgment. “A mentor is anybody who has a heart for this work and says, ‘Hey, I can give an hour of my time weekly to meet with and walk with a woman who is trying to re-enter society and become a better parent.’ It does require a 12-month commitment, so it is not a small task,” Lugar said. “There are so many barriers that these women have to overcome that it takes a village to help them. It takes the university and the community to come together and do this.”

The Next Step organization was started five years ago and has local support from churches, individual donors and volunteers. Next Step will use its network to reach out to people who might be interested in becoming mentors for this grant program. Mentors will then be matched through special software to assure mentors and mentees have shared interests.

“The university has been so supportive of this. I really appreciate ISU stepping up and contributing the resources to be able to make this thing happen,” Lugar said. The social work department and Next Step will work with Rockville Correctional Facility in west-central Indiana, providing mentorship for women nearing release.

“It’s the social work department reaching out to the community and asking, ‘How can we do social work here, in the Wabash valley?’” Lugar said. The cycle of drug use, incarceration and poverty is generational and difficult to escape, said Simons. “So they go to prison and they get some (basic skills) there, but they coming out — where do they go? How do they live? How do they parent? How do they get a job? How do they manage on the top of that they have a felony? It’s hard,” Simons said.

Next Step will work with re-entry coordinators at the prison to begin mentoring women up to three months before they are released. This year, the program wants to help as many as 50 women with the goal to help 75 in following years, as the program hopefully expands to Vigo and surrounding counties.

Simons says many people’s hearts are in the right place when they become a mentor, but to effectively coach these recently incarcerated women, mentors must understand the world through the eyes of someone who did not think graduating high school was a choice because they have never witnessed it, or someone whose parents never held a job. “We’ll have to train them to understand where some of these women are coming from, how to guide them, and hopefully these women then see that they have choices,” Simons said.

Motivational Work versus Motivational Interviewing

Motivational work is an approach designed to help people who are considered to be unmotivated and hopeless. Most therapeutic contacts are based on the client/patient being motivated to some degree, i.e. that he or she wants to cooperate constructively and accept help.

Nobody is a hopeless case. This is the idea which I have fervently believed in during the whole of my professional career. Time after time, I have seen that it is possible to motivate all clients within psychiatry, criminal care and social services.

hqdefault (1)When you expect constructive cooperation from clients/patients, you only reach the group that is relatively functional.

This leads to the motivation paradox: the clients/patients who have the greatest need of support receive the least. Motivational work tries to resolve this paradox, so that those who are most in need actually receive help.

Motivational Work (MW) is a method that has evolved from my work in cooperation with different groups, and it differs from Motivational Interviewing (MI) by being more comprehensive and general.

MI is more specific and originates from a non-confrontational psychotherapeutic method (Roger’s client-centred therapy), which is then applied to unmotivated clients.

Motivational interviewing is a counseling style based on the following assumptions:

  • Ambivalence about substance use (and change) is normal and constitutes an important motivational obstacle in recovery.
  • Ambivalence can be resolved by working with your client’s intrinsic motivations and values.
  • The alliance between you and your client is a collaborative partnership to which you each bring important expertise.
  • An empathic, supportive, yet directive, counseling style provides conditions under which change can occur. (Direct argument and aggressive confrontation may tend to increase client defensiveness and reduce the likelihood of behavioral change.) Read More

One advantage of Motivational Work is due to it being aimed at all types of clients even those with most destructive behaviour. There is no preconceived technique to which the client must be adapted, but instead the method is adapted to the client’s behaviour. Working in this way, one has a different paradigm from other methods which are based on psychotherapeutic thinking.

For this reason, Motivational Work is built on a developed theory of the psyche, setting goals, defense and the process of change, which differs from the psychotherapeutic approach. At the same time, the theory is a support for personnel, who are able to remain emotionally involved since the risk of being burned out increases as clients are less motivated and act destructively.

Even though many of the ideas are new, some of the basic premises behind Motivational Work come from the Therapeutic community and Moreno’s psycho­drama. Both emphasize feelings and actions. The method was also inspired by Carl Rogers, but from his later development of “per­son-centred therapy” in which he worked using confrontation in encounter groups.

Part one of Motivational Work deals with the attitudes and approaches the motivational worker must bring with him to his meetings with the client. The contents of this section are not only of general interest, but they are also of profound significance to the motivational worker as regards the prevention of burnout and the maintenance of commitment.

Motivational Work is suitable for social workers, correctional workers, treatment personnel in psychiatry, hospital staff, and police. In other words, for all categories of people who meet unmotivated clients in their work.

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