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Psychotherapy in Corrections

A Supportive Approach

Peter N. Novalis, M.D., Ph.D., Virginia Singer, DNP, and Carol M. Novalis, M.A.

  • 2023
  • 536 Pages
  • ISBN 978-1-61537-332-1
  • Item #37332

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Where so many existing books on psychiatry in a prison setting focus on either standards or issues of medication, Psychotherapy in Corrections is unique in its focus on the actual practice of psychotherapy in correctional facilities.

With a particular emphasis on supportive psychotherapy with adult patients, this guide draws on the authors' extensive experience in the field and features case vignettes that serve to bring some of the most important points to life. Organized into four parts, it covers:

  • The relationship between psychotherapy and corrections; supportive therapy techniques; and issues that affect new or returning prisoners
  • How to address core issues in helping prisoners, including self-harm and suicidality, trauma and stressor-related disorders, and substance use disorders
  • Key disorders encountered in correctional settings, including serious mental illness; mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression; and personality disorders, including psychopathy
  • Special considerations, including the experience of women in prison; behaviors and problems that can disrupt care; cultural issues; and preparing prisoners for release

Diagnostically oriented chapters, each of which features key points and provides quick access when referencing specific conditions and scenarios.

Psychotherapy in Corrections also incorporates the latest developments in society wrought by the pandemic and ongoing conversations about social justice, acknowledging the effects that COVID-19 has had on conditions within prisons and the issues that affect therapists practicing in a correctional setting, such as the treatment of the poor, minorities, and traditionally disadvantaged persons.

All those practicing in correctional settings—whether psychiatrists, psychologists, mid-level mental health practitioners, social workers, professional counselors, and others—will benefit from the practical and detailed approach in this comprehensive volume that will equip them to focus on and treat the human before them, irrespective of their crime or the setting.


  • Introduction
  • Notes on Usage
  • Acknowledgements
  • Part 1. Introduction to Psychotherapy in Corrections and Supportive Techniques

  • Chapter 1. The Place of Supportive Psychotherapy in the Correctional Environment
  • Chapter 2. Techniques of Supportive Psychotherapy
  • Chapter 3. Entering the Institution
  • Chapter 4. Managing the Therapy
  • Part 2. Core Issues

  • Chapter 5. Crisis, Self-harm, and Suicidal Behavior
  • Chapter 6. Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders
  • Chapter 7. Substance Use Disorders
  • Part 3. Key Disorders

  • Chapter 8. Serious Mental Illness
  • Chapter 9. Mood Disorders
  • Chapter 10. (They've Got) Personality (Disorder): A Challenge in Corrections
  • Part 4. Important Considerations

  • Chapter 11. Women in Prison
  • Chapter 12. Deception and Disruption
  • Chapter 13. Special Topics
  • Chapter 14. Time to Say Goodbye
  • In Conclusion
  • List of Tables and Figures

About the Authors

Peter N. Novalis, M.D., Ph.D., has more than 30 years of clinical experience, most of it in public psychiatric institutions, including state and federal psychiatric hospitals and correctional facilities. He was the primary author of the first major textbook on supportive psychotherapy, Clinical Manual of Supportive Psychotherapy, which was recently published in its second edition in 2020. Recognizing a need for the application of supportive psychotherapy in correctional facilities, he has developed the current project along with his coauthors.

Virginia Singer, D.N.P., PMHNP-BC, CARN-AP, is a nurse practitioner, board certified in psychiatric mental health and addictions. She has more than 25 years of experience in mental health and has worked in jails, state prisons, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers.

Carol M. Novalis, M.A., is an adult educator and researcher with 30 years of experience in both private and public institutions. She has a special interest in improving the education of socially disadvantaged adults.

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