The term “therapeutic” in TJ refers more broadly to improving psychological or behavioural health and wellbeing of people impacted by the law. At its heart of wellbeing is the concept of human dignity. TJ does not seek to turn judges into therapists or for courts to require people to do therapy. TJ respects law and due process.
So what guides TJ practice in our courts? Click here for a handy TJ Practices infographic: istj-tj-in-courts-infographic
Therapeutic Jurisprudence practice in our courts & tribunals respects the law and due process and is:
Legal actors – judiciary, lawyers, prosecutors, court staff – give voice to participants, show respect, build trust through an ethic of care, ensure participant understand processes and decisions & try to be helpful (Reference) (Reference)
Legal actors motivate engagement & behavioural change to improve the wellbeing of people & communities / Value dignity, agency & self-determination of participants / Use active listening, dialogue & other evidence based tools & techniques / Work in a multi-disciplinary way with non-legal supports (Reference) (Reference)
Legal actors – Understand the impacts of trauma / Apply trauma informed practices – consistency, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, empowerment / Understand ‘difficult’ behaviour as maybe a coping or self-protection mechanism; Take a strengths-based approach (Reference 1) (Reference 2)
Programs are designed with the needs & lived experience of participants at the centre. Lawyers support their clients to make their own decisions (supportive decision making).
Legal actors – Understand & are respectful of First Nations culture (Reference) / Recognise, respect & support people with lived experience of disability (Reference) / Understand & are respectful of Diversity (Reference LGBTIQ+ inclusive language guide); (Reference – LGBTIQ+ Legal Needs Analysis); Reference Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity)
Respectful of human rights
Human dignity is upheld through the application of human rights principles (Reference – human rights generally) and (Reference – human rights TJ and desistance from offending)
Legal actors endeavour to understand & alleviate challenges faced by court participants / A compassionate approach also supports the wellbeing of legal actors (Reference)
TJ is interdisciplinary. A TJ approach provides a bridge between the law and legal systems to the social sciences. TJ practices are drawn from other relevant disciplines. As knowledge evolves in other disciplines it can be translated into new TJ practices. For example in addiction recovery more recent research has shown that the stigma or shame of substance abuse can be a barrier to a person seeking or sticking with treatment and that stigma can be reduced by being careful about how we talk about substance abuse. This social science knowledge has been translated to a TJ practice in some courts where judges choose to use non-stigmatising language when talking to a person in court about about substance abuse e.g. using the term “unclear” test rather than a “dirty” or “unclean” test. So the evolving state of knowledge in addiction recovery has led to a new TJ practice. (Resource: “The TJ Vineyard”)