In November 2019, Dr. Christine Gerchow facilitated a workshop at the Healing Justice: Ending Mass Incarceration conference at the Wright Institute (Berkeley, CA). Sponsored by Psychologists for Social Responsibility, the intention of the conference was to create a “space of learning, strengthen existing social connections and build a broader community toward social transformation around mass incarceration.”
Dr. Gerchow facilitated a workshop entitled, “Supporting the Behavioral Health and Well-Being of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Kinship and Beyond.” During the workshop, she provided an overview of behavioral health interventions applied in Contra Costa County’s juvenile hall. Such interventions include Aggression Replacement Training (ART), Thinking for Change (T4C), Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Substance Use, (CBI-SA), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), and a mindfulness and meditation group. Dr. Gerchow integrated case studies to illustrate in more concrete terms how the interventions provide youth with containment, healing relationships, skill-building, and/or emotional support. She also emphasized how a highly collaborative relationship with the county’s Department of Probation was critical to the implementation of several of the interventions.
The workshop “switched gears” from a didactic tone to a reflective one when Dr. Gerchow shared insights from Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., on the value of kinship within all communities, particularly justice settings. Reflecting on her career, Dr. Gerchow shared stories of therapeutic encounters characterized by deep connection and delight with her youthful clients.
She also shared how radical kinship has fueled her through painful and tragic outcomes (e.g., a former client enters into the adult justice system, a youth is murdered) and occasional periods of self-doubt or perceived inefficaciousness.
“True kinship takes a warm heart. In essence, it is about being together, deeply honestly. We talk about love so much but we forget that it is something we give rather than get: a way of being. -Ilse Crawford”
― Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well
“Kinship– not serving the other, but being one with the other.”
― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion