Treatment

In the past ten years, several authors have recognized a number of specific treatment needs of female offenders, often referred to as gender-responsive approaches (e.g., Blachette & Brown, 2006). In general, these treatment models stress the importance of using gender-sensitive risk assessment and addressing issues such as trauma, (sexual) abuse, and the role of social relations and disruptions in these relations in treatment. A central concept in North-American treatment programs for women is empowerment; i.e., increasing women’s self-esteem and internal locus of control.

It has been stated that the practice of violence risk management in women should respond to the observed high levels of psychiatric comorbidity, especially Axis I/II comorbidity. Lewis (2006) recommends a treatment model for incarcerated women that recognizes gender differences but also gender challenges, i.e., the acknowledgement that working with female offenders is in some respects harder than working with male offenders. Furthermore, treatment in mixed settings is usually very complicated and requires highly skilled mental health professionals as well as clear policies regarding for instance intimate relationships and contraception.

For more information on gender-responsive treatment programs see for example the website of dr. Stephanie Covington.