Positive Criminology

The Good Lives Model of rehabilitation

The Good Lives Model (GLM), first proposed by Ward and Stewart (2003) and further developed by Ward and colleagues (e.g., Ward, 2002; Ward & Gannon, 2006), is a strengths-based approach to offender rehabilitation. It is a strength-based rehabilitation theory because it is responsive to offenders' particular interests, abilities, and aspirations. It also directs practitioners to explicitly construct intervention plans that help offenders to acquire the capabilities to achieve the things that are personally meaningful to them.

It assumes that all individuals have similar aspirations and needs and that one of the primary responsibilities of parents, teachers, and the broader community is to help each of us acquire the tools required to make our own way in the world. Criminal behavior results when individuals lack the internal and external resources necessary to satisfy their values using pro-social means, or where a single aspiration or need is valued exclusively over all other aspirations or needs. In other words, criminal behavior represents a maladaptive attempt to meet life values, or a singular focus on one specific life value (Ward & Stewart, 2003; Whitehead, Ward, & Collie, 2007). Thus, offenders, like all humans, value certain states of mind, personal characteristics, and experiences, which are defined in the GLM as primary goods.

Following an extensive review of psychological, social, biological, and anthropological research, Ward and colleagues (e.g., Ward & Maruna, 2007) proposed eleven classes of primary goods: (1) life (including healthy living and functioning), (2) knowledge, (3) excellence in play, (4) excellence in work (including mastery experiences), (5) excellence in agency (i.e., autonomy and self-directedness), (6) inner peace (i.e., freedom from emotional turmoil and stress), (7) friendship (including intimate, romantic, and family relationships), (8) community, (9) spirituality (in the broad sense of finding meaning and purpose in life), (10) happiness, and (11) creativity (Ward & Gannon, 2006, p. 79). Whilst it is assumed that all humans seek out all the primary goods to some degree, the weightings or priorities given to specific primary goods reflect an offender's values and life priorities. Moreover, the existence of a number of practical identities, based on, for example, family roles (e.g., parent), work (e.g., psychologist), and leisure (e.g., rugby player) mean that an individual might draw on different value sources in different contexts, depending on the normative values underpinning each practical identity. Instrumental goods, or secondary goods, provide concrete means of securing primary goods and take the form of approach goals (Ward, Vess, Collie, & Gannon, 2006).

For example, completing an apprenticeship might satisfy the primary goods of knowledge and excellence in work, whereas joining an adult sports team or cultural club might satisfy the primary good of friendship. Such activities are incompatible with dynamic risk factors, meaning that avoidance goals are indirectly targeted through the GLM's focus on approach goals. Rehabilitation endeavors should therefore equip offenders with the knowledge, skills, opportunities, and resources necessary to satisfy their life values in ways that don't harm others. Inherent in its focus on an offender's life values, the GLM places a strong emphasis on offender agency. That is, offenders, like the rest of us, actively seek to satisfy their life values through whatever means available to them. The GLM's dual attention to an offender's internal values and life priorities and external factors such as resources and opportunities give it practical utility in desistance-oriented interventions.