Olsen, Rachel

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  • Publication
    Strengths-Based Compassion as an Agent of Change for Incarcerated Youth: Positive Psychology Interventions Proposed for Colorado's Division of Youth Services
    (2021-08-26) Olsen, Rachel
    The youth corrections system is in need of reform. Emerging work from the field of positive criminology is working to shift the focus from retribution and risk management to strengths building and positive youth development. Research suggests, targeted strategies from positive psychology can provide youth with opportunities to counteract the potentially deleterious effects of incarceration, especially as adolescent neurobehavioral development offers a ripe opportunity for positive interventions that enhance wellbeing. Strengths-based compassion, the proposed positive intervention described within, uses mindfulness, character strengths, and the cultivation of compassion to improve self-regulation and self-discipline, increase self-esteem, improve social skills, and reduce recidivism. The proposed eight-week program is designed through a trauma-responsive lens that has been adapted for youth in a correctional facility and creates the potential for revolutionary change in the hearts and minds of young offenders. This change positions youth on a productive path in which they desist from future criminal activity and increase pathways for flourishing in their lives after incarceration.