Program Brings Therapy to Families to Cut Delinquency

Written by Cory Chandler

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: May 24, 2006
CONTACT: Cory Chandler, cory.chandler@ttu.edu
(806) 742-2136

PROGRAM BRINGS THERAPY TO FAMILIES IN EFFORT TO CUT DELINQUENCY

LUBBOCK – Police can only do so much. Same with teachers. In the end, reducing juvenile delinquency in Lubbock’s most crime-riddled neighborhoods comes down to parenting.

Therapists and volunteers in Texas Tech’s Parent Empowerment Project provide a unique service to families in these neighborhoods, bringing free therapy into homes or schools as needed in an effort to discourage delinquent behavior and equip parents with effective discipline strategies for raising their children.

Richard Wampler, the program’s founder and a Texas Tech professor of marriage and family therapy, says there is a need for such services. The neighborhoods his counselors work in are located in the zip codes with the highest crime rates in Lubbock. Some parents, grappling with depression or anxiety that they are unlikely to seek help for, turn to drugs and alcohol. Neglect and family hostilities may drive children to adopt delinquent behaviors.

The Parent Empowerment Project partners university marriage and family therapy graduate students with mothers that have been recruited from the targeted communities and trained to work with families. These Parent Educators, as the women are called, use their knowledge of the neighborhood to bridge the gap between the clients and counselors. Their presence quickly establishes a trust, the counselors say, that couldn’t be forged in a clinic.

Another benefit: Since the counseling teams are mobile, they can tailor their sessions to meet the needs of their clients. They visit homes or schools as necessary and even make weekend visits if needed.

This differs from many counseling services, which can involve lengthy waits to speak with counselors who are often overwhelmed with cases. In these instances, the parents sometimes have to hunt down transportation or take time off of work to make the trip.

However, Wampler has been fighting a funding battle as grant money shifts and he has to find new sources. The program was forced into a year-long hiatus at one point as Wampler sought new financial support. Current support from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health expires this month.

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CONTACT: Richard Wampler, professor of marriage and family therapy, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-5050, ext. 241, or richard.wampler@ttu.edu.