Personal and professional development training

Apply Needs Based Practices Communication in Probation

By Michael S. Oden, MA

Overview of the Observable Facts:

  • Defendant is 42 year old white male
  • Defendant began using drugs at the age of 20
  • Defendant used drugs ad sex excessively for over 20 years
  • Defendant’s parents divorced when he was 10 or 11 years of age
  • At age 15, the father told the Defendant that they were to move into to a house together and the Defendant was to get his own room
  • The Father’s girlfriend derailed all of those plans.
  • The Father did not defend for fight for his children, the girlfriend took over
  • The father choose the girlfriend over the children
  • The Defendant is left alone with no father.
  • The Defendant became depressed and hostile for over 20 years
  • The Defendant used women for sex, he never let anyone get close
  • The Defendant was in and out of jail for years/arrested many times
  • The Defendant was arrested for narcotic possession and put on Proposition 36


During our interview, I asked the defendant to discuss his life and to described to me when and whey drugs and sex became an important part of his life.  I explained to him that my reason for using this process is to discover “why” of his excessive use of narcotics and sex.

The Defendant shared that when he as in high school, he wasn’t big enough to play on the football team or the baseball team.  The coach would not allow him to try out because of his size, The Defendant told his father about his unfair situation and his father did not do anything about it.  The Father’s lack of support angered the Defendant.  The Defendant stated that his Father never really stood up for him about anything he did.

The event that really hurt the Defendant was when his Father and Uncle made plans to build a house where he and his tow other siblings would live.  The Defendant was told that he was going to have his own room.

The events shifted when the Father bought his new girlfriend into the equation.  The girlfriend did not want the Defendant to have his own room and the Father sided with the girlfriend.  In the end, the Father sent the Defendant and his siblings to live with the Mother because the girlfriend did not want to live with 3 kids.

The Defendant has carried an emotional burden of helplessness, anger, hostility and hopelessness for the past 20 years because the Father chose the girlfriend over his children.  Since that time, the Defendant began to use narcotic and sex, excessively, for the next 20 years, to deal with his collective emotions that had accumulated inside him.

The Defendant was constantly getting arrested fro possession of Methamphetamine, going in and out of jail, attending various drug and alcohol treatment centers and finally getting arrested and put on Probation-Proposition 36.

The Defendant never really understood how a Father could do that to his son and did not have the tools to understand how his own feelings and lack of interpersonal needs attributed to his behavior over the past 20 years.

The Process of Restoration:

During our session, I began to decompress the Defendant by getting him to understand and be aware of his feelings and needs and where they originated.  The Defendant also needed to know why excessive use of narcotics and sex played an important role in his life for so many years and what need was being met by participating in these activities.

The Defendant needed to know what he was feeling when he father chose the girlfriend over him and his siblings and the interpersonal needs that were never met by his father.  The defendant stated he felt sad, lonely, helpless, confused, angry, hostile, embarrassed, ET. Al because his father didn’t meet his need for respect, connection, support, emotional safety and empowerment.  I explained that he had an abundant of feelings operating inside him, running concurrently, and that caused him to feel either constantly depressed or emotionally overwhelmed.  The Defendant  needed to know that he didn’t have the ability to identity what he was needing or feeling at the time, so he used and excessive amount of drugs to cope with his emotional trauma.

The Defendant also needed to understand that he was not responsible for his Father’s ability or inability to meet any of his needs.  In this case, the Father was incapable of meeting the interpersonal needs of the Defendant, such as, connection, acceptance, validation, self-worth and security of home and family.  Therefore, the Defendant believed he was the problem.  The most enlightening moment came when the Defendant needed to have empathy for his father by understanding that he didn’t have the ability to stand by himself with a decision.  In other words, the Father was easily influenced by his girlfriend.  So, throughout the past 20 years, the Defendant would constantly use judgment, criticism and blame on his person which would incite all his negative feelings.  Then, the Defendant would “shame” himself, into believing that he was a worthless human being.  Therefore, all of his self-loathing contributed to the excessive use of methamphetamine to meet his need for peace/harmony or numbness, tragically.

Now that the Defendant has an understanding and awareness of his drug use, he can now begin the process of accepting his past feelings and behavior and not blame himself or his Father for using these tactics or methods to handle his emotional suffering.

Future Direction:

The Defendant had needs of self-worth, self-respect, empowerment, affection, love, validation, emotional safety met, tragically, through drug use due to him feeling lonely, helpless, embarrassed and one of being uncomfortable.  The Defendant will need to be aware when his need is being met or not met and what feeling is connected to that need.  He will learn to begin to shift his former way of behaving in a particular situation to a behavioral way that is more life serving.

Evaluation and Outcomes:

  • Defendant, after several months of not using narcotics, tested positive for methamphetamine when he found out his father was coming to visit him.
  • Defendant asked his father he left him for his girlfriend 20 years ago.
  • Father apologizes; Mr. Westhead feels his body shift and stated that for the first time in his life that he is at peace.
  • Defendant is steadily working with his brother as a roofer.
  • Defendant stated he will attend college not that he is off Probation  and will pursue journalism
  • Defendant stated that he doesn’t have any desire, whatsoever, to use any drugs now that he has found peace with his father.

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