Desistance theory and forensic practice

Andrew Day, Mark Halsey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter considers some of the ways in which desistance theory might contribute to the ongoing development of strengths-based practice in forensic settings. Some of the main ideas from narratological models of desistance are reviewed, with particular reference to the processes of change that underpin contemporary approaches to rehabilitation. It is suggested that a key idea of desistance theories - that people can be assisted to achieve short-term psychological changes that, in turn, trigger longer-term behavioral changes which then become embedded in new personal identities - is fully consistent with the therapeutic mindset of allied health professionals who work in forensic settings. There are several elements that do seem to be common to successful desistance journeys and these can be usefully divided into what have been termed "primary," "secondary," and "tertiary" dimensions. The chapter outlines these key elements of a desistance-informed approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFacilitating Desistance from Aggression and Crime
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Strength-Based Practices
EditorsCalvin M. Langton, James R. Worling
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781119166504, 9781119166481
ISBN (Print)9781119166467
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • desistance theory
  • desistance from crime
  • forensic assessment
  • forensic treatment
  • desistance literature
  • Behavioral changes
  • Narratological models
  • Desistance-informed approach
  • Desistance theory
  • Allied health professionals
  • Forensic settings


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