Prediction of working alliance in post -release mentally ill offenders

W. Amory Carr, Fordham University


Mentally ill offenders endure different stressors in the criminal justice system. They tend to be stigmatized by their nonmentally ill peers (Edwards, 2000), are more likely to receive disciplinary infractions for rule violations (Toch & Adams, 1986), and are more likely to be rearrested than their nonmentally ill peers (Cocozza, Melick, & Steadman, 1978). A growing area of interest for researchers has been the potential adaptations of these offenders to the prison environment, and the impact of these adaptations on mental health treatment (Rotter et al., 2005). The present dissertation sought to investigate whether prison adaptations predict the working alliance in a sample of 84 long-term, male psychiatric patients. Two groups of patients were included by convenience sampling: those who had previously been in prison (n = 59) and those never incarcerated (n = 25). Patients were interviewed over the course of two sessions and administered, the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles-Layperson Edition (PICTS), the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Screening Version (PCL), the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale-Anchored Version (BPRS), the Structured Assessment of Correctional Adaptation (SACA) and Working Alliance Inventory-Shortened Version (WAI). As hypothesized, previously incarcerated patients scored significantly higher on the PICTS, PCL, SACA using MANOVA analysis. Surprisingly, the WAI was not significantly different between the groups. The overall effect of prison on all four response variables however, was significant, F(4, 77) = 6.40, p < .001 The WAI total score was not found related to any of these variables, thereby disconfirming this study's other hypotheses. Exploratory analyses revealed that the WAI Goals subscale was significantly related to the PICTS ast, r(58) = .36, p = .01, and the WAI Bond subscale significantly related to the SACA, r(58) = -.28, p = .03. Both the SACA and PICTS ast factor scale were measures of prison adaptation in this study. Their significant relationship to aspects of the working alliance, and absence of a relationship with psychopathy, psychopathology and other potential confounding variables, suggests some influence of prison adaptations on aspects of the working alliance. Implications for treatment of the mentally ill offender are also discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Carr, W. Amory, "Prediction of working alliance in post -release mentally ill offenders" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3286415.