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A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

July 30, 2012 Comments off

A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (PDF)
Source: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health

Many mental health practitioners were trained in programs or at a time when very little attention was paid during the course of training to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. For a variety of reasons, general clinical training does not ordinarily equip a mental health practitioner to operate within the juvenile justice context. Practitioners who have been trained within more recently developed programs with a “forensic” emphasis may be more familiar with adults within the criminal justice system than with juveniles, more focused upon technical assessments, such as competency to stand trial, than upon youth-specific developmental and functional assessments, or relatively unfamiliar with the emerging literature regarding youth with mental health needs who have had contact with the juvenile justice system or penetrated to its deeper end programs.

This paper provides an overview for mental health practitioners who provide professional services to youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system. This overview emphasizes emerging research and practices, the emerging conceptualization of trauma and its implications for youth involved with the juvenile justice system, and implications for policy and practice. While primarily intended for mental health professionals working within system of care communities or interested in developing a system of care collaboration in their area, this paper is relevant for any mental health practitioner providing professional services to youth involved or at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. It is also relevant for juvenile court and juvenile justice professionals whose work brings them into contact with youth with significant mental health needs.

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