2: The ‘FOR – A Change’ programme and its delivery

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In this chapter and the next, we look more closely at the FOR programme and at the way in which it was delivered by the project staff and received by offenders. Particular attention is paid to the theoretical foundations of the programme and to the integrity with which the designers’ intentions were realised in practice. This chapter focuses on findings from observational research; Chapter 3 examines the programme (as well as other aspects of the project) through the eyes of staff and prisoners.

‘FOR – A Change’ (Fabiano and Porporino, 2002) is a 13-session programme1 based on the concept of motivational interviewing developed by Miller and Rollnick (1991). It derives from the programme authors’ conclusion that to date, while the ‘What Works’ movement has focused appropriately on, for instance, problem solving and thinking skills, it has not as yet concerned itself sufficiently with motivation.2 In their view, this leaves attempts to change offenders vulnerable to erosion, either because ambivalence about change has not been addressed or because newly acquired skills have not been reinforced. In this respect they echo the findings of other effectiveness research, which concludes that initial effect can be undermined by a lack of post-programme reinforcement (Raynor and Vanstone, 1996). The programme draws on the principle that ‘key “transitions” can interrupt life “trajectories” that have been consistently criminal and anti-social in character’ (Fabiano and Porporino, 2002, p 1) and that therefore interventions should motivate offenders towards goals that produce transitions. Its primary objective is to increase motivation so that programme participants establish their own agenda for change.

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