Theoretical Models in Probation and Parole

TheoreticalModels in Probation and Parole

Thethree basic theoretical models for treatment in probation and paroleare psychoanalytic theory, reality therapy, and behavior/learningtheory (Abadinsky, 2012). Of the three models, behavior/learningtheory is the easiest to explain and understand. The theoreticalmodel primarily focuses on the role of behavior in relation toprobation and parole and the ability of human beings to learnbehavior. Behavior can be learned from the social environment and canbe adaptive or maladaptive in regard to probation and parole(Abadinsky, 2012). It posits that a given behavior is not natural,but reflects a learning process in which it was acquired. Theconsequences of the behavior are the reinforcers. Adaptive orpositive behavior is accompanied by positive reinforcement. Negativeor maladaptive behavior is accompanied by negative reinforcement whenthe stimulus is removed (Abadinsky, 2012).

Behavior/learningtheory differs from psychoanalytic theory and reality therapy in thesense that it does not focus on needs in determining how a person ishandled in probation/parole. Reality therapy postulates that humanbeings are born with at least two built-in psychological needs(Abadinsky, 2012). Accordingly, these include the need to belong andbe loved and need for gaining self-worth/recognition (Abadinsky,2012). Psychoanalytic theory, on the other hand, focuses on the needsassociated with the different stages of psychological development.The stages are id, ego and superego (Abadinsky, 2012). According toAbadinsky, (2012), while it seeks gratification, ego restrains it andthe superego injects rationale/morality over the ego. Thus, eachstage has needs. Psychoanalytic theory shows the barriers that canhinder someone’s effectiveness in carrying out the expected socialrole (Abadinsky, 2012). However, behavior/learning theory does notlook at the needs that may culminate to criminal behavior. Rather, itlooks at how human beings learn behavior and how different forms ofbehavior are reinforced (positively/negatively).


Abadinsky,H. (2012). Probationand parole: Theory and practice(11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall