On their own, web-based programs can help people make important changes. In addition, many criminal justice agencies integrate technology with in-person interactions to reinforce and strengthen the impact.
One common format is to use a computer-generated report alongside an evidence-based conversational style like motivational interviewing. In this scenario, the client completes a web-based program prior to meeting with a counselor, case manager or probation officer. The web-based program generates a tailored report that is discussed with the agent. The agent uses open questions, affirmations, and reflections to elicit client interests or ideas around change. There are many research studies showing that this “check up” format (motivational interviewing with tailored feedback) can reduce substance use and other risk behaviors.
Another format is where the client completes a web-based program after meeting with an agent. In this instance, the agent can make suggestions for how the computer program can be most beneficial, for instance suggesting certain goals that can help the client move quickly through the criminal justice system.
A final format is where a provider and web-based system alternate contacts. For instance, a client might meet with an agent prior to completing the first part of a web-based program. The client uses the computer program to set goals for the following month. (Some systems can also text or email clients about their goals.) At the next agent meeting, the client reports on his or her progress. The agent suggests new goals, and the client uses the program to develop a plan for the following month. In this scenario, the provider and web-based program both have key roles: the provider monitors progress and makes suggestions, while the automated system sends reminders, checks in, and summarizes the client’s progress.