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Delivering effective cognitive behavioural group treatment for women in secure psychiatric settings

Clive G. Long (Based at St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 8 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is to review issues of relevance to practitioners using group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with women in secure settings.


The extant literature on CBT as applied to women in secure settings is reviewed to highlight best practice. Aspects of best practice are illustrated with examples from a women's medium secure service.


Obstacles include the characteristics of the patient group, treatment non compliance and an environment that accepts the primacy of security over treatment. Environmental and need factors amenable to intervention are highlighted in addition to CBT specific considerations that include the timing and intensiveness of treatment, content and delivery of therapy, treatment readiness and use of the group process. The use of a manualised CBT group treatment aid attempts to ensure treatment integrity is associated, and which is associated with treatment outcome. A focus on the social and environmental factors that attribute to the therapeutic milieu is vital to treatment generalisation, as is harnessing the therapeutic potential of the built environment. Finally, treatment evaluation imposes a structure that can facilitate progress in treatment.


There is comparatively little work on CBT group treatments for women in secure settings. Attempts to synthesise best practice initiatives in this area are helpful in guiding treatment developments.



Long, C.G. (2013), "Delivering effective cognitive behavioural group treatment for women in secure psychiatric settings", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 55-67.



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