This comment is from one young graduate of the PLUS+ program being run at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre by Youth Justice Psychology Services. PLUS+ aims to intervene with young people who have been sentenced to help them develop skills to manage difficulties in their lives and turn away from reoffending.
Psychologist Lynda Menashe, who has co-facilitated the most recent sessions says that it directly targets risky areas in the lives of young people by providing specific training and skills to allow them to identify and deal with problems in a constructive and socially acceptable way.
‘We ask a lot of the young people in the groups. We encourage them to look at their own situations and directly consider their own offending behaviour and what may have led to it, and how they might manage difficult situations more helpfully.’
PLUS+ normally runs over ten weeks; with three to four sessions a week of two to three hours each. It features modules on problem solving, social skills, self-control and offending behaviour and self risk management. It is based on a UK model developed in 2007 by Professor James McGuire and has been run eight times in South Australia so far.
‘PLUS+ is evidence-based and we are very conscious of maintaining program integrity with supervision, observations and feedback,’ said Lynda.
‘We assess the participants before and after the program to see what changes have occurred. Because the numbers in each group are small and we have done only a few groups we cannot make any claims yet about long-term changes, but we are working towards quantitative evaluation to test program effectiveness.’
We asked the four graduates of the most recent PLUS+ program for their comments:
The number one thing I got out of this program was to realise my thoughts and emotions and how to manage them,’ said one young graduate. Others said it was ‘understanding risks’, to ‘learn more skills in expressing yourself’ and ‘learn more skills in talking about emotions.
Would they recommend it to others?
Yes. It helps you understand why you do what you do, everything has a thought connected to it,’ said one, while others said it was a ‘good opportunity to learn new things, new skills’ and it ‘[helps] dealing with your emotions and express[ing] yourself and [meeting] new people