Caring for Families in Court – new book out now

TJ founder Professor David Wexler writes…

Routledge Press has just published a crucially important book that should be of real and immediate interest to the Therapeutic Jurisprudence community.

Authors Barbara Babb and Judith Moran’s Caring for Families in Court : An Essential Approach to Family Justice is a slim and meaty book that charts a course for moving family courts toward becoming care centers for families; for recognizing that, as in some other areas of interest to TJ (such as in many criminal cases), families often find themselves in court as much as patients find themselves in emergency rooms.

Babb and Moran roll out a series of recommendations for the family justice system, and their prescriptions will resonate strongly with the TJ community. For instance, they forcefully advocate for unified family courts, where a “one family-one judge” will be charged with working on the myriad issues of family law: dissolution, custody, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, adoption, juvenile delinquency, guardianship, civil commitment, right to die, living wills, and more.  In TJ terms, creating a structure to bring these matters together ,and to have them handled by particular judges with relevant training and interest, is in essence the Therapeutic Design of the Law (TDL), though that terminology is not itself employed by the authors.

The other prescriptions in the book relate to application and implementation of the law or, again in TJ terminology, to the Therapeutic Application of the Law (TAL). Here, the authors underscore the importance of looking at the child and family in its micro, meso, and macro settings—employing an approach drawn from the ecology of human development.

A therapeutic jurisprudence approach promoting “well-being” is repeatedly endorsed, and judges, lawyers, court and  service professionals are urged to practice with an explicit  “ethic of care.” 

The need for empathy is underscored, and is facilitated by the proposed use of a “narrative” approach urging the participants each to tell, in whatever detail they wish, their personal and family story and for the lawyers and judges to maximize their attentiveness in order to grasp the meaningfulness of those stories. Again, much of this may be a concrete elaboration of the importance to TJ and to procedural justice of giving “voice” to the parties and tothe urgency of careful listening and “validation” by judges and lawyers.

Babb and Moran add context by giving some detailed descriptions of what will help family courts improve their caring function. As elsewhere in the TJ literature, the value of Mission Statements is noted: this is more than mere fluff and can indeed set courts on the right track.

The book even closes with a vivid chapter on international  “portraits of caring,” including meaningful and empathetic judicial opinions,  the relevance of court facilities and aesthetics, a description of an Aboriginal Children’s Court in Australia, and even a floating court on the Amazon in Brazil!

The time is ripe for the many recommendations in this  valuable book to be taken seriously. Courts should lead the way, and the Court Craft series of this Blog could be a good spot for the continued sharing of ideas. Even more, perhaps the authors themselves can interact with the readership in the hope of moving the agenda forward.

David B. Wexler

Posted in books about TJ, child protection, domestic/family violence, family law, youth/juvenile justice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problem solving courts: Some lessons from New Zealand

This blog by Rob Hulls was recently published by Centre for Innovative Justice.   Thanks to Rob and the CIJ for permission to republish for the worldwide TJ community…

On 24 and 25 January I attended the Future Directions of the Adult Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts Conference at the University of Auckland.

After six successful years running as a pilot in two locations, the AODTC is at a crucial crossroad – in the coming months the New Zealand government will decide whether to make the court a permanent part of the country’s legal DNA, and also whether to expand the program.

The conference was a chance for the court and its stakeholders – as well as experts in therapeutic jurisprudence from around the world – to reflect on the past six years and on how the court might operate going forward.

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Posted in alcohol and drugs, Criminal Justice, TJ in action, worldwide TJ community news | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Compassion in the Court: Healing on both sides of the bench (TJ Court Craft Series #15)

Judge Jamey Hueston (retired), Co-Convenor of the Judicial Outreach Group of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence writes…

It is an occupational reality that judges are frequently exposed to disturbing cases involving human misery and anguishing circumstances that can wear on their psyche.

Traditional Legal culture expects judges to remain stoically neutral and unemotional while rendering fair decisions. However, it is unreasonable to expect judges to be indifferent to distressing matters or be unaffected by the suffering they hear.

Exposure to dramatic accounts of cruelty and harm has a detrimental impact on physical and emotional health.  

Large caseloads and the inherent isolation of life on the bench can also contribute stress. Judges are at risk for developing secondary trauma.

Despite the frequently trying nature of judicial service, judges are in the enviable position to positively affect the life conditions of the citizenry before them. 

Judicial compassion is the tool to accomplish that desired result.  It offers the means to confront difficult emotions of others and understand their suffering with the desire to relieve it.  

Compassion can be a healing instrument enabling judges to resolve conflicts before the court effectively while experiencing positive emotions.

Training in the use of therapeutic and compassionate approaches will enable judges to craft healthier outcomes for those appearing before the court while cogently relieving judicial trauma. Continue reading

Posted in judiciary, Judiciary_Court Craft Series, legal education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing the Therapeutic Jurisprudence community: How to share your work

“Therapeutic jurisprudence” is a mouthful, yes? But let’s think about it: How much better would our laws and legal systems be if they were designed mainly to encourage psychologically healthy outcomes? If you understand the significance of this question, then you now comprehend the essence of therapeutic jurisprudence and why it’s so important.  David Yamada

Are you interested in redesigning the law and legal systems?

Let’s grow the international Therapeutic Jurisprudence community in 2019!

If you haven’t already, make sure you have joined the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence and get involved in the Society’s wonderful Chapters and Interest Groups. And spread the word about the Society through your networks.

And let’s keep sharing our ideas and work.

In this blog Karla Gonzalez gives us a run down on all the ways we can share our TJ work

1. Social Science Research Network:
First, to upload to you need to create an account, it is free and easy to do. After you create an account and are logged in, you will click the “Submit a paper” tab in the top menu. You must then add the paper title, date it was written; then provide an abstract for the work, and some keywords.
When uploading the paper, which must be in PDF format, it is recommended to click the “Add paper URL to PDF”, because that way people searching it up online can find the abstract and how to download it more easily. Also it is recommended to select the options under “Availability” for it to be available in search results and in the author page. On the “STATUS” menu to the right, on the References tab you will select if it is an WPS or an APS (working or accepted paper submission). If it is an APS and the Paper series, Journal or Book where it will be published isn’t found, you must click “Enter new reference” and write in under “Complete Reference” the appropriate publication. Finally, on the “STATUS” menu, you will click “Submit to SSRN”.
Once your article is on SSRN you will get a link you can then share through the following methods…
2. Member only TJ Forums on the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence
To have access on the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence website, you first must become a member of the ISTJ, which has a modest cost of $25 or free for students.
Once you have a member account on and are logged in, you will see a tab on the top called TJ Forum. There, the first forum that appears is titled General Inquiries/Items of Interest. You will click it and once on it, click Subscribe. Then “Add topic”, where you will be able to attach and upload the paper and add a description of your publication for others who are subscribed to that forum. Make sure that the box for “Subscribe to this topic” is checked.
You are also welcomed to join and subscribe to other forums for number Interest Groups and Chapters in which you may also want to share the paper, following the same instructions as before. The various interests groups and geographical chapters provide excellent opportunities to share globally the advances in TJ.
Via the online forums you can share an article link, an idea, an event, a resources….whatever you want!
3. TJ Listserv
For the listserv, if you are not already on it, you first must email leaving the subject and text of the email blank.
After you are a member on the listserv, you will go to the google group and click “New topic”, write a description and upload the paper, and then click “publish”. This will be sent to other members of the listserv.
4. Write for this ISTJ Blog!
The Blog is a great way to share short articles, resources and ideas to over 1300 followers.
Blog posts generally are less than 1000 words and can be a lot shorter. The blog can link to bigger articles, papers or reports so it can be as simple as just turning your abstract or intro into a blog and then linking to the bigger piece.
If you are interested in being a guest blogger email:
5. ISTJ social media. Follow, post and include us on your TJ posts:
Twitter @intlTJsociety
Facebook – Therapeutic Jurisprudence
Instagram: TJInternational

Thanks Karla for that great run down.

Are you interested in how do TJ research?Check out this past blog by Nigel Stobbs.


Posted in Introduction to TJ, researching TJ, TJ articles, TJ in action | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Trauma-Informed Courtroom (TJ Court Craft Series #14)

This guest blog by Judge Peggy Hora (Ret.) first appeared on the Justice Speakers Institute, LLC blog series on this link.  This is the third blog in our series on Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma informed practice.

Why do judges and other justice professionals need to be cognizant of trauma as it relates to court cases?  Like it or not, trauma seems to be the overwhelming negative factor affecting many people who come to court.

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Posted in Judiciary_Court Craft Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can an ACE screening interview in court programs be therapeutic?

This is the second blog in our three part series on how the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and trauma informed practice can deepen TJ practice in courts.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence Founder David Wexler writes…

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Posted in Court Support | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

ACES: Deepening Therapeutic Jurisprudence Practice in Courts

This blog is a first in a series of three, over the coming weeks, in which we will explore how an understanding of the impacts of childhood trauma can improve the effectiveness of judges and court programs.

Magistrate Pauline Spencer writes…

The wonderful thing about Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) is that it invites us to draw from the social sciences to improve how we conduct our courts and court programs and how we carry out our judicial roles.  Because various fields of study – psychology, criminology, social work and the like – are constantly evolving so to can TJ practices.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments