True Reward of Counselling Inmates

I attended my clients’ graduation from their 9-month counseling program this morning. They are inmates who are about to be released into the society, some in a month while some in six months. Together with my co-facilitator, we have walked this journey with them and we have had our fair share of ups and downs during our sessions. At the end of it all, we can tell that they have transformed in some positive ways. Even the most difficult client in the group has learned his valuable lessons in life during our journey together. Indeed, I now realize how a therapist’s presence can have the power to motivate a vulnerable individual, through unconditional support and acceptance.

Here I am, with my colleagues and their loved ones in the auditorium, we witnessed their vows to be a transformed individual who will be responsible citizens. These soon-to-be ex-offenders displayed so much talents in them as they performed a great skit and musical for us all during the event. To be honest, I have never seen this sight of them before. They are truly one of the sweetest beings on earth!

I value my time spent with these inmates. They are, what I would describe as, tough and rugged looking individuals with artistically decorated bodies, who are very willing to give their best shot in quitting drugs and leading a crime-free life. I admire their courage at times to be able to trust counselors like us, and their group members with their most personal histories and humiliating past.

It wasn’t easy for many of them to describe their pains and even talk about their anxieties regarding how others will, eventually, perceive them. Still, they are one of the nicest and most genuine people I know because deep down inside of them, they value honesty, loyalty, and commitment to their dreams and ambitions. I think what crushed them was mostly due to their unfortunate, sometimes unforeseen and tragic, situations that led them into deep despair and eventually, the path of a drug addict and/or criminal.

This cohort of inmates is my first group of clients in my counseling career. Words cannot describe how proud I feel towards them starting their life journey towards change – actual change. Real challenge that will come for them when they are out into the real world – an unforgiving and ungracious society, yet plenty of opportunities.

This vocation made me realize that inmates may share similar life experiences that we have or had. The differences are that we are fortunate enough to have someone or somewhere to turn to for help, someone to guide and support us in life, and an educated mind to get us to where we are today. Without these blessings, we might just be potential criminals. Since we are blessed, how about learning to give whatever support we can, where necessary, and whenever there’s a chance?

Another thing is, now that they are about to be released, what and how can our society do or provide the support that these ex-offenders need? I have learned that some employers are working closely with case managers and befrienders to help rebuild the lives of these ex-offenders.

I do hope that more employers would do the same and that our society could be more forgiving and trusting, in the midst of its heartless strife for economic success and all other competitions. I do hope that there will be more programs to address the needs of these ex-offenders (i.e. Family and Marriage counseling in prison etc), who desire to contribute back to the society and do their best to make good once again.

As some of my colleagues have told me, that a counsellor’s first group of clients would be the most memorable group ever. Right now, I couldn’t agree more! This group of inmates have made me smiled, laughed, pissed-off, and even cried during this long and winding journey.

Will I ever see the fruits of my labour? Maybe, or maybe not. My journey with them ends here as I strolled out of the prison vicinity and headed for home. But there is one reward I have gained in my time with these gentlemen, that is, to be able to see their growth and positive transformation, no matter how big or small it is, all these months. And that is sufficient enough for me.

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2 thoughts on “True Reward of Counselling Inmates”

  1. This means more to me than words can say as this is a cause very dear to my heart. Bless you for caring about those that society has often given up. May you be repaid for all your kindness a hundred fold!

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