Clinical modelGriffith Youth Forensic Service (GYFS) has developed a collaborative clinical practice model. The model has three main elements:
• field-based practice
• individualised, multisystemic assessment and intervention
• collaborative partnerships.
The aim of a field-based model is to ensure all young clients, regardless of location, receive equitable access to specialist services. Instead of clients travelling to a central location, GYFS clinicians travel to each client to conduct assessments and provide specialist treatment services. Depending on the client’s location (metropolitan, regional, rural or remote), GYFS clinicians will conduct multi-day or week-long community visits. Field-based practice:
• allows GYFS clinicians to directly observe the client in their own environment;
• preserves the ecological validity of the assessments undertaken in a way that an interview in a clinical room cannot;
• allows interventions to be delivered in the same environment; and
• supports clients which may lead to increased engagement and participation in treatment and interventions.
Individualised, multisystemic assessment and intervention
Given the heterogeneity of the client population, GYFS assessment and treatment is tailored around the individual client. Assessment is undertaken of the young person, their broader ecology (family, peers, school, community), and the offence/s they have committed. A risk assessment is also undertaken. GYFS assessment informs the development of a multisystemic case formulation, which in turn informs the development of an individualised treatment and risk management plan, with a focus on individual-, family-, peer- and community-level interventions. Because many young sex offenders present with antisocial problems, GYFS avoids group treatment. Instead, GYFS clinicians focus their efforts on trying to increase the quality and frequency of contact with prosocial peers. GYFS staff select from a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions, individually tailored for each client. Treatment progress is systematically monitored and goals and intervention approaches are revised where appropriate.
GYFS practice model relies on identifying and recruiting teams of local collaborative partners, including professionals, para-professionals, non-professionals and family members, to assist in the development and delivery of interventions. Engaging with collaborative partners involves:
• establishing teams of key people within the offender’s natural and professional ecology who could influence the client’s behaviour and promote positive outcomes;
• identifying collaborative partners (professionals, para-professionals, non-professionals or family members) to assist in the development and delivery of treatment interventions;
• collaboration, sharing of expertise/knowledge, and professional development; and
• engaging with identified cultural consultants to assist in knowledge ecosystems specific to cultural practice.
Particularly for Indigenous clients, engagement with cultural consultants and local Indigenous collaborative partners ensures that cultural and other local protocols are respected and followed where appropriate. Indigenous consultants/partners provide the offender with consistent access to support and guidance within their community, and allow appropriate messages regarding sexual behaviour to be provided by persons from within their own culture and community.
For more information about the clinical model, refer to the following publications:
Smallbone, S., Rayment-McHugh, S. & Smith, D. (2013). Youth sexual offending: Context, good-enough lives, and engaging with the wider prevention agenda. International Journal of Behavioural Consultation and Therapy, 8, no. 3-4, 49-54.
Smallbone, S., & Rayment-McHugh, S. (2013). Preventing youth sexual violence and abuse: Problems and solutions in the Australian context. Australian Psychologist, 48(1), 3-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-9544.2012.00071
Smallbone, S., Crissman, B., & Rayment-McHugh, S. (2009). Improving therapeutic engagement with adolescent sexual offenders. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 27(6), 862-877. doi: 10.1002/bsl.905
Smallbone, S., Rayment-McHugh, S., Crissman, B., & Shumack, D. (2008). Treatment with youth who have committed sexual offences: Extending the reach of systemic interventions through collaborative partnerships. Clinical Psychologist, 12(3), 109-116. doi: 10.1080/13284200802520839