Many ex-offenders and substance misusers are employed in the treatment and intervention of offenders. The purpose of this paper is to investigate this role as a protective factor in the maintenance of desistance.
Seven paraprofessional employees of a substance misuse service were interviewed using semi-structured interview and analysed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Four super-ordinate themes emerged: “The Fragile Sense of Self”; “Hitting Rock Bottom”; “Belonging and identity” and “Maintaining the role reversal”. These themes captured the journey of moving through crime and substance misuse into desistance and employment.
The sample size is small; therefore generalisation is reduced. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) could be considered subjective. Further research should attempt to explore similar ideas with different populations and using different methods.
This work suggests that practitioners and policy makers should look at the vital importance of paraprofessional employment in relation to desistance from crime.
Offenders and substance misusers are often left without direction or a fixed new identity, and return to the only life they have known. This study suggests that paraprofessional employment might provide a sense of belonging and identity that could benefit the ex-offender, their clients and society.
This is an opportunity to advance knowledge in the area of paraprofessional employment as an aid to “recovery” and lifelong desistance.
The authors would like to thank the participants for taking the time to take part in this research.
James, N. and Harvey, J. (2015), "The psychosocial experience of role reversal for paraprofessionals providing substance misuse and offender treatment: an interpretative phenomenological analysis", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 31-42. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFP-10-2014-0032
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