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What are your initial thoughts when you think of a Prison Officer?

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What are your initial thoughts when you think of a Prison Officer?. Therapeutic Alliance: Wearing Two Hats as a Prison Officer. Officer Laura Smillie & Officer Emma Guthrie. Prison Service Statement of Purpose.

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therapeutic alliance wearing two hats as a prison officer

Therapeutic Alliance:Wearing Two Hats as a Prison Officer

Officer Laura Smillie


Officer Emma Guthrie

prison service statement of purpose
Prison Service Statement of Purpose

"Her Majesty's Prison Service serves the public by keeping in custody those committed by the courts. Our duty is to look after them with humanity and help them lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release."


Explore some of the challenges a Prison Officer faces when working in a therapeutic role with female offenders.

what can make this balance challenging
What Can Make This Balance Challenging?

Maintaining Security

Use of Control and Restraint



Intense Emotions (including ours!)

Mental Illness

Negative Views of Authority

additional difficulties staff
Additional Difficulties - Staff

“They should get nothing”

“They’re a lost cause”

“Why do you care what happens to them after what they did”

“I can’t believe you get paid to do that”

“Lock them up and throw away the key”

“Here come the care bears”

“Why try to rehabilitate they’ll never change”

how we try to obtain a therapeutic alliance
How We Try To Obtain a Therapeutic Alliance
  • Want to do the job in the first place
  • Be consistent yet responsive to situations.
  • Transparent
  • Empathic
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Be persistent yet know when to leave it and move on
  • Patient
  • Know the people you work with
  • Stay positive
  • Sense of humour – never lose it!!
“…not your friend, someone who cares & cares about your situation…..”

“…I had no respect for officers, I would continuously kick out & punch….”

“…staff had to intervene, if they hadn’t I wouldn’t be here now….”

“…as soon as an officer came into my room I’d jump on them…..”


We work in a challenging environment and we believe a balance can be made but you have to want to make that balance.

As we’ve highlighted there are increasing numbers of females being held in custody who have complex needs therefore isn’t it more important to ensure we wear TWO HATS!

thank you
Thank You

Any Questions?

[email protected]