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Programmes and Training

Managing Feelings:  

Aimed at those who have difficulty working within a group setting because of emotion regulation deficits.
Used as an optional precursor to group interventions designed to reduce re-offending, such as the SMARTER Thinking Programme.  More »


A motivational resettlement programme, Signpost aims to provide ‘seamless’ intervention and support to short sentence prisoners during custody and after release. Signpost is managed by the Connect Project, West Mercia Probation.  More »

SMARTER Thinking Programme:  

A programme targeting antisocial behaviour, which addresses thinking skills, social skills, emotional management and critical reasoning. Suitable for offenders in institutional or community settings, and those at risk.   More »

The Preventing Violence Programme:  

A programme directed at addressing thinking and emotional skills and support issues for medium-high risk adult male offenders whose current sentence is for an offence of a non-sexual nature. Developed for the Norwegian Correctional Service. ** Rolled out November 2005 **   More »

Where I Want to Be:  

A motivational programme to be run as a stand-alone module or as a primer for other interventions. Included in, and delivered as the first block of the Preventing Violence Programme.   More »


Managing Feelings

This brief programme is designed to be run as an optional precursor to group interventions designed to reduce re-offending, for example the SMARTER Thinking Programme.

Target Group

The programme is aimed at individuals who have difficulty working within a group setting because of emotion regulation deficits. Many individuals incarcerated in a prison or hospital setting will have some negative affect related to their situation and a proneness to victim stance, blaming, and ruminating on perceived grievances; others may suffer from intense impulsive emotional volatility stemming from personality disorder. In order for these individuals to benefit from general offending behaviour programmes, this eight- session primer is recommended.


The programme draws on the work of Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (1993) and Segal et al’s (2002) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. It aims to encourage participants to focus on the relationship between thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and develop a more objective, decentred relationship with experience.

Programme Length

There are 8 to 10 sessions which should be scheduled to take around 75 minutes each. Group size should not exceed 10 individuals.


Ten tutors can be trained by one trainer, or twenty by two trainers, in five days training. Manual provided.



A motivational resettlement programme aimed at short sentence prisoners. This was commissioned by Connect, a resettlement project managed by West Mercia Probation and delivered throughout the West Mercia Area, in partnership with local probation boards and regional prisons. The project aims to provide resettlement guidance during custody and after release for prisoners sentenced to less than 12 months.

The programme was designed by Linda Blud and Yvonne Copley, and we are pleased to be able to offer the Signpost programme to other organisations by kind permission of, and under licence to, Connect (www.connectesf.org.uk).

Who is it for?

For short sentence prisoners who would not have access to longer cognitive behavioural programmes. Short sentence prisoners account for about 70% of the prison population, but currently receive the least access to education and offending behaviour programmes. For these prisoners, any intervention will be limited by time constraints, and needs therefore to focus on signposting individuals in the right direction, primarily by enhancing motivation, recognizing needs and goals, and establishing an agenda for change.

In West Mercia the target group for Signpost is prisoners serving less than 12 months, returning to the West Midlands region on release, including all male prisoners aged 18-25, all women prisoners, and all ethnic minority prisoners.

What problems does Signpost address?

For many offenders, release from prison presents problems in relation to basic social needs, such as accommodation or employment, relationship difficulties, and other problems such as involvement in drugs and alcohol. During the period immediately following release, ex-prisoners are most at risk of falling back into their old patterns of behaviour, and re-offending, because of lack of resources and opportunity. These problems may be compounded by a lack of skills, a lack of confidence, or a lack of commitment.

What is it designed to achieve?

‘The central aim of the programme is to raise awareness of the need for change, to help offenders identify achievable goals in terms of basic needs and realistic wants, and to signpost the way to gain appropriate support both inside and outside prison’.
- from Reflect: The Connect Magazine, January 2004.

On completion of the course, each participant will have a detailed Action Plan of identified goals, with a number of ‘SMART’ short, medium and longer term objectives related to each.

The Action Plan provides a framework for continuing work pre-release, such as referral to accommodation providers, Fresh Start or possibly drug support services. In West Mercia’s implementation, it is used as the basis of a relationship with a community-based mentor.

How does it work?

Signpost is a groupwork programme based around five sessions with the common theme of a ‘journey’. Participants are required to complete some homework between sessions.

Session 1: At a crossroads
Choosing my direction; goal setting; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats; prioritising goals

Session 2: Roadside assistance
Developing support networks; identifying specific support needs and agencies / individuals that can help; mentoring; first road tests

Session 3: Planning your route
A reality check on goals to make them SMART; distinguishing wants and needs; checking out the direction we want to travel in; more road tests

Session 4: Avoiding road works
Focusing on change; decisional balances; recognising obstacles; planning to take action; final road tests

Session 5: My Highway Code Finalising an achievable action plan


SMARTER Thinking Programme

A programme targeting antisocial behaviour, Smarter Thinking addresses thinking skills, social skills, emotional management and critical reasoning. It is suitable for a cross-section of clients including offenders in institutional and community settings, and those at risk.


The Smarter Thinking programme is based on ideas drawn from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (Ellis, 1962), and the work of Spivack, Platt and Shure (1976). These theoretical approaches were influential in the development of the Reasoning and Rehabilitation Programme (R&R) (Ross, Fabiano and Ross, 1989), and the Thinking Skills Programme (Clark,1993) and its successor, Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) (Clark, 2000). It also utilizes Goldstein’s (1999) approach to social skills training, as well as other sources.

The Smarter Thinking programme focuses on the same thinking skills areas targeted in the ETS and R&R programmes, which include problem solving, social perspective taking, critical reasoning, flexible thinking and self-management. In addition, it addresses a number of areas which have been problematic for those programmes. In particular, the following areas have been identified:

• It would appear that offenders in the UK have low motivational levels in relation to ETS and R&R. Partly this is because the material does not offer clients any clear rationale for participation. ETS and R&R do not directly address offending, but attempt to develop skills to enable offenders to think and behave more pro-socially. However, many offenders do not see that they have a problem with their “thinking”.
• Little attention is paid to emotional management. In both programmes, the emphasis is on thinking, and the link between thinking and behaviour. Techniques for managing emotions more effectively are not given sufficient emphasis, especially in ETS.
• Both ETS and R&R largely avoid encouraging participants to use their own experiences to test out the techniques taught on the programme. Fictional scenarios and depersonalised examples are used throughout most of the sessions. This may result in clients completing the programme without really connecting the skills learned to their own personal behaviour and experiences.

The Smarter Thinking Programme attempts to address these three problems. There is more emphasis on emotional management, and the link between feelings, thinking and behavior. Clients receive a clear rationale for participation, and more explanation of rational and irrational thinking and how this impacts on feelings and behavior. Whilst fictional examples are used throughout, more emphasis is put on encouraging clients to consider issues in their own lives and to try out the techniques being taught. The programme focuses less on “deficits” and emphasizes the value of gaining choice and control.

Programme length

The programme is designed to be delivered in 23 sessions, mostly comprising group sessions, but with one introductory individual session and a further individual session halfway through.


Ten days training is recommended, but this can be tailored to meet agency needs. Twelve participants can be trained at a time, or 24 with two trainers at additional cost.


The Preventing Violence Programme

A new programme suitable for violent offenders.

Dr Linda Blud, forensic psychologist and Dr David Thornton, Treatment Director of Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, Wisconsin, USA, have developed a new programme suitable for violent offenders. The project has been commissioned by the Norwegian Prison Service, but can be made available to other jurisdictions.

Target Group

The programme is directed at medium to medium-high risk adult male offenders whose current sentence is for an offence of non-sexual violence.

Programme Length

The Preventing Violence programme takes around seven months to complete with a delivery rate of three to four sessions per week.


The programme is designed for initial use in a secure residential setting but with scope for adaptation for running in the community.

Programme Outline

The programme is organised into the following sequence of modules:

Block 1: Where I Want to Be (a motivational intervention based on the Good Lives Model)
Block 2: Smarter Thinking (problem solving and emotion regulation)
Block 3: Thinking Errors
Block 4: Relationships and lifestyle
Block 5: Towards My Good Life (action planning and relapse prevention)

There are two optional Blocks offering additional input on emotional regulation and social skills training.


One to two weeks training can be delivered by the programme designers. A programme manual and theory manual will be provided.


Where I Want to Be

This is a motivational programme which serves as the first block of the Preventing Violence Programme currently being developed for the Norwegian Correctional Service. It can be run as a stand-alone module and primer for other interventions.

Target Group

Particularly suitable for those in pre-contemplation / contemplation stage of change.


Through an exploration of the ‘good lives’ model this programme serves to motivate participants to think about their personal goals and capabilities, how they have generally attempted to achieve these goals, and the problems they have encountered. This gives the a rationale for moving forward and successfully desisting from crime, by making better sense of their lives and through ‘working out a different way to live based on a clear set of personal values and a coherent self-narrative’ (Ward, 2002).

Programme Length

The programme is designed to be delivered in 10 sessions, with group sessions interspersed with some individual sessions. The group session design assumes a group of around 8 offenders participating in the programme. Whilst individual sessions are intended to take a minimum of 1 hour (although facilitators are encouraged to allow up to 2 hours for these sessions if necessary), group sessions are designed to take around 2.5 hours, including a break of around 20 minutes.


Ten tutors can be trained by one trainer, or twenty by two trainers, in five days training. Manual provided