Emotional learning, a process through which a person may develop emotional intelligence, may involve gaining the capacity or skills to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought and regulate emotion in self and others (Mayer et al. 2000). The need for emotional learning in prisons is particularly important given prisoners’ lower levels of adjustment and self-awareness as well as the evidence to suggest that emotional intelligence may be a factor in criminal behaviour (Santesso et al., 2006). Particular significance may be drawn from this problem given that it has been suggested that learning to regulate and enhance emotion management skills may be key factors in the successful rehabilitation of offenders (Gaum et al., 2006) and is thought to lead to fewer incidences of violence and self-harm both in prisons (Safer Custody, 2002), leading the authors to suggest the need for emotional intelligence training.
This is particularly relevant to current EU policy both with regard to decreasing reoffending rates (e.g. in the UK, Green Paper, 2010) and initiatives to make prisons safer by decreasing violence and suicide across the partner countries (e.g. Safer Custody, 2002) in the EU. Despite addressing the need for emotional learning opportunities, to date, little to no provision has been developed in the EU.
This project, therefore, aims to develop, through the involvement of seven partner organizations, the use of phototherapy within EU prisons in promoting the emotional learning of prisoners.
The project and symposium are a further development of the EU funded Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Project, PHOTOTHERAPYEUROPE and the resulting publications, including Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age (Routledge).
The innovative set up of cross-national networking and sharing of best-practice across prisons in the EU will be important, particularly in the field of the therapies, in promoting changes in behaviour and well-being of prisoners. This will include the setting up of a post-training database through which trainee practitioners can input evaluations of their use of phototherapy, enabling data to be collected on the impact of the training and the use by practitioners in prisons.
Aims & Objectives
The following are set as the aims and objectives of the project:
- To produce a state of the art review of the literature with regard to EU prison policy and practice, with particular reference to psychological intervention across the EU.
- To test and produce phototherapy techniques and strategies practitioners can employ.
- To produce an innovative printed and online phototherapy material set for use by practitioners (art therapists, counsellors, prison officers, psychotherapists, group facilitators and key workers) with prisoners in the EU, that enable an opportunity for emotional learning
- To train practitioners trainees emotional development of prisoners (art therapists, counsellors, prison officers, psychotherapists, group facilitators and key workers) in using phototherapy techniques.
- Evaluation of use of phototherapy by practitioner trainees through formation of post-training database.