Faith-Based Therapies, Psycho-Clinical Counselling Remedy Antisocial Behaviours – Professor Akan Williams
The divinely planned and well-orchestrated plan to assist in the pre-release empowerment of inmates to ease reentry tagged the "Onesimus Project" provides the convergence of psycho-clinical, entrepreneurial and faith-based approaches to addressing the issue of antisocial behavioural challenges, according to the Ag. Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor Akan Williams.
He made the submission at the recent Prison Fellowship of Nigeria Virtual Criminal Justice and Corrections Conference, where he gave the presentation titled, "Antisocial Behavioural Patterns, Faith-Based Therapies and Psycho-Clinical Counselling: The Nexus".
Professor Williams defined antisocial behaviour as a behaviour problem, which, however, must be persistent and repetitive to be called antisocial behaviour. He said that while acts of lying, stealing and disobeying rules randomly were normative tendencies in childhood, psychiatrists tend to consider the actions as disorders when they become repetitive patterns of crime.
He stated that antisocial behaviour was a subject of public concern at a global level, and governments, parents, caregivers amongst others were trying to find ways of interventions. Interventions, he said, had ranged from parental skills training to other cognitive behavioural therapies, and there were ongoing attempts to explore the roles faith-based treatments could contribute to helping people who present with such behavioural patterns.
Professor Williams lamented that policymakers and criminal justice stakeholders failed to take advantage of the broader and more nuanced role that faith and spirituality could play for many in offender rehabilitation. He said that religious groups had long played a role in helping prisoners and their families. Prisons in Nigeria, he added, had a considerable range of religious-based activities.
"Although faith-based therapy is an emerging aspect of counselling and psychology, it presents an integrated approach to helping inmates achieve wellness by using beliefs and practices of their faith to improve their outcomes," Professor Williams explained.
The Covenant Ag. Vice-Chancellor said that the University teamed up with the Prison Fellowship of Nigeria and two others to participate in the Life Recovery Pre-Release empowerment Programme known as the "The Onesimus Project". He said the partnership, which also had the Nigerian Correctional Service and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agencies of Nigeria (SMEDAN), was in furtherance of the University's reputation as a citadel of higher education, learning and human capital development with a Christian missionary bias.
Professor Williams stated that the nexus between faith-based therapy and antisocial behaviours was that faith-based activities played an integral role within the society. Therefore, he averred, faith-based interventions must be a key component within the prison regime to enable those in incarceration to fulfil an active faith-based lifestyle.
"Indeed, the role of pastors, imams, rabbis, and other faith leaders in correctional facilities can provide additional counselling, support, and advice to inmates. Prison religious conversion serves as, amongst other things, a coping strategy for those attempting to make sense of their life as well as seeking forgiveness and reparation", he stated.
Professor Williams said that prisoner reentry, the process by which freed prisoners returned to the community, was a delicate process and thus must be handled with care so as not to promote recidivism. He noted that his submission was to encourage more religious activities or the intensification of spiritualism in the correctional facilities across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
He posited that psycho-clinical counselling and faith-based therapies were effective ways of dealing with challenges and assisting inmates in making better decisions as they helped in cultivating positive behavioural reorientation and mindset. Psycho-clinical counselling and faith-based therapies, he added, helped to reduce substance use and dependence and an inmate ultimately became a balanced individual who positively influenced other inmates to become fit for reentry into the larger community.
Professor Williams, who was represented by the Dean, College of Leadership and Development Studies, Professor Olujide Adekeye, promised that Covenant University would continue to collaborate with the Prisons Fellowship of Nigeria, The Nigerian Correctional Service, and SMEDAN to offer psycho-clinical services and interventions.
Professor Akan Bassey Williams, Ag. Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University