Solution-focused Brief Therapy for Parolees: The Effectiveness

Why is it important?

A Brighton-Melbourne terror attack in early June 2017 committed by an on parole perpetrator intrigued me to probe the picture of criminal prevention and intervention in Australia. I later found in Victorian Ombudsman’s (2015, cited in Sentencing Advisory Council 2016) report that the proportion of recidivism in 2 years follow-up period has increased from 37% in 2010 to 44% in 2015. It is interesting because constant annual increment of recidivism in Australia (Payne 2007) aggravated by aforesaid terror attack seems to frame the public that it is unsolvable. Payne (2007) later reports, that 65% of parolees in Australia reappeared in court, and two out of three prisoners have been previously detained. In order to prevent offenders from repeating crime, each Australian State has developed a correctional system below their justice system. The State Government of Victoria (2016) through Correctional Services (CS) endeavors to break the cycle of re-offending, by providing interventions towards offenders and parolees. Many intervention approaches are available to address various cases and offenders/ parolees characteristic. In the past two decades, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) has become a common therapy model for intervention utilised social workers (Kim 2008). However, explanation regarding whether or not SFBT has been implemented widely in Australia is undocumented. 

How about the previous study?

Quick’s (1996) study found that since 1980s practitioners have developed the combination of SFA and brief strategic therapy or SFBT, however research around its effectiveness seems to be ignored by researcher until the late 1990s. Gingerich and Eisengart (2000), Kim (2008), and Gingerich and Peterson (2012) started the new wave of research in SFBT. Each of their study employed the systematic review of SFBT’s effectiveness studies in various area including criminal and delinquency. Kim (2008) has proved that SFBT has an effect in a therapy. Gingerich & Peterson (2013) found subsequently that SFBT is efficient for offenders. They managed to correlate the SFBT efficacy toward lower recidivism rate. In Australia, literature that bring SFBT to surface is severely limited. Voelkerer & Rossouw (2014) from University of Queensland have tried to explore SFBT in a clinical case study. They have an identical notion with Kim (2008) and Gingerich & Peterson (2013) with respect to SFBT. Spilsbury (2012) also conducted a case study about SFBT as a therapy for depression and alcohol dependence in Australia. Some of other case studies and research around SFBT have been investigated the use of SFBT in other settings. Hence, SFBT is not a new branch of knowledge in Australia. It has some prior research and investigation. However, some aspects of the problems are remained unidentified, especially, the use of SFBT in the Victorian corrective services. This is surprising, considering their role to implement the intervention program to achieve rehabilitation and re-socialisation of offenders is really important (Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation 2017). Hence, it suffers from a lack of research and need to be further explored.

Informing Social Work Practice

A reflection to the initial reason of this article, that is to bring awareness of the recidivism condition in Victoria, is important. It then leads to the urgency of exploring the strengths and limitations of SFBT and how it may impact recidivism. Flashback into the previous part of this article, we found that the recidivism rate has increased sharply within five years. However, research around intervention approach in breaking the cycle of reoffending appears to be severely limited. Based on that, referring to Morton et al (2012) this article will fall within the conceptual uses in the continuum, which means that this article is employed as an advocate to rises awareness for further study. Hence, it is hoped to be a thought provoking article in probing knowledge and understanding of related experts in the area (eg: psychologist, social worker, parole officer, case worker, etc) to find its effectiveness.

Indonesia is facing somewhat similar situation, I would argue that issue discussed herein is also useful to be raised in Indonesian context. Thus, conducting further studies in this area might benefit Indonesian correctional system as well. Terima kasih.


I am currently undergoing Master of Social Work specialize in Human Right advocacy at Monash University and expected to be finished by the end of 2018. Prior to joining Monash University, I finished my Master in Management majoring in Strategic Planning in 2015. It was conferred by PPM School of Management. I got my Bachelor of law (Sarjana Hukum) from Parahyangan Law School in 2011. I have held several junior management positions since I left undergraduate school, such as two years as a Legal Section Head (2013-2015) and a year (2015-2016) as corporate legal manager. Respectively for MNC new media unit and Sampoerna Financial Group.


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