Establishing Trust in the Correctional Setting

Mar 05, 2017

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
New England Transcendentalist

Establishing Trust in the Correctional Setting

TISA Description of the Problem: In prison settings it is both natural and common for inmates to have a difficult time establishing trust with mental health providers. To some degree this is true of essentially all settings during the first interview with any client. The following tip by Juanita Trujillo provides a nice way to begin the navigation of this tricky process.

Tip: In a corrections setting, sometimes inmates literally ask me the following question, “Why should I trust you?” I think it is a reasonable question. I find the following answer to be very useful and non-defensive in nature, “Well, it is true that I am a stranger. I think the smart thing for you to do is watch me and let me know if I am ever acting like you can’t trust me.”

TISA Follow-up: I like this tip because of its simplicity and honesty. Obviously, this question can pop up in all sort of settings, and I suspect the same answer would be effective in many different clinical situations. I am immediately reminded of my past work with adolescents, who often have this question in mind even if they do not verbalize it.

Tip provided by:

Juanita Trujillo, R.N., M.S.
University of Wisconsin
Counseling Services, Madison, Wisconsin

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Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing