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The Role of Protective Factors in Forensic Risk Assessments

Authored by: Simone Viljoen , Jodi L. Viljoen , Tonia L. Nicholls , Michiel de Vries Robbé

Handbook of Forensic Mental Health Services

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138645943
eBook ISBN: 9781315627823
Adobe ISBN:


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Within the broader field of clinical psychology, there has been a shift from deficitfocused assessment toward the practice of including strengths and protective factors in clinical assessment (Tedeschi & Kilmer, 2005). It is generally agreed-upon that comprehensive psychological assessments need to include protective factors/strengths (Snyder, Ritschel, Rand, & Berg, 2006; Rashid & Ostermann, 2009). Turnell and Edwards (1999) lamented the fact that focusing solely on risk factors is “rather like mapping only the darkest valleys and gloomiest hollows of a particular territory” (p. 49). Ultimately, the purpose of risk assessments should be to inform risk management, not simply for the prediction of future offending (Hart & Logan, 2011). Additionally, risk management should do more than just reduce or eliminate an individual’s risk factors; it should also build on an individual’s existing strengths as well as aim to develop new protective factors (de Vries Robbé & de Vogel, 2013). Accordingly, scholars have called for the inclusion of protective factors in risk assessment measures (Rogers, 2000; de Ruiter & Nicholls, 2011).

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