Mechanisms of experiential peer support for individuals engaging in criminal behaviour

Mechanisms of experiential peer support for individuals engaging in criminal behaviour

Mechanisms of experiential peer support for individuals engaging in criminal behaviour

Individual presentation120Margriet Lenkens, Company / Institute IVO Research Institute, The Netherlands

Room 4AThu 14:00 - 15:30

“You might think ‘hmm, that doesn’t sound nice, being locked up’. But the empty feeling when that cell door closes, the feeling you get when guards walk past your cell… You cannot feel that. You cannot understand that”, says an experiential peer.

Experiential peer support is increasing in the forensic youth field, because of an increased appreciation of the (ex-)client perspective in addition to clinical expertise and research. In addition, (perceived) similarities might lead to better working alliances and, in the end, better results. But what do experiential peers actually have to offer in the contact with clients? And is what they do fundamentally different from how formal care providers approach youngsters?

In our study we interviewed 17 experiential peers (EP) who provide individual support to adolescents and young adults with criminal behavior. We found that EPs identify with clients, leading to more empathy and a milder response towards criminal behavior. In addition, clients also seem to consider EPs as ‘one of them’, which makes EPs credible and respected as role models, and which can lead to more hope and perspective. Lastly, we found that, as a consequence of their own lived experiences, EPs strive to establish a humane relationship, characterized by equality, reciprocity, trust, sincerity and flexibility, and they tend to have a realistic view on desistance.

In this presentation, Margriet Lenkens will illustrate how these mechanisms play a role in the relationship between youngsters and EPs, and she will talk about the implications for the forensic youth psychiatry.

Life course perspectives in youth forensic psychiatry
desistance, experiential peer, peer mentoring, support
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