Advanced Behavioral Rehab has been doing court ordered classes for probationers for over a decade. Although the economy, technology, people and politics has changed, there are a few things that remain the same. For most, ending up on probation is a difficult experience that involves juggling a lot of “do-s” and even more “don’ts.” Life changes. For many, that change includes taking court ordered classes or therapy. And when it comes to these classes, the options are endless. In-person, Online, group, individual, 4-hour, 26-week, etc… So how do you navigate the options? If you’re taking these classes before sentencing, then you’ll want to consider several additional factors other than the ones listed below (but these are helpful too). For those who have recently been sentenced, here are 3 things you need to know.
1. Not all Court Ordered Classes are the same. Obviously. I just stated that above. But in the realm of quality, even classes with the same name can be vastly different. A common name you’ll hear around my neck of the woods is “Alcohol Highway Safety” (AHS). Regardless of the company you go through, the name, price and duration are pretty similar. But it’s the content and the teacher that make the difference. An AHS class taught at one facility might be directed by someone with zero education in the field. In that class, you’ll sit down with 60 other people and watch a movie for 4 hours that shows multiple drunk-driving car crashes and tells you that drinking and driving is bad. And while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a shocking reminder of the dangers of drunk driving, there’s a lot more that goes into the decision to drink alcohol and then operate a vehicle. Across town, there might be an AHS class taught by a Masters Level therapist who engages a small class of 15 people in interesting thought exercises that help you identify what causes people to make decisions to drink and drive. You’re spending 4 hours and almost $100. You might as well chose the interesting class that you can learn something at. When you call to schedule an appointment, ask the receptionist who is teaching the class and what their qualifications are. Follow up those questions by finding out what you’ll be doing in the class or ask them to email you a syllabus.
2. Not all Court Ordered Classes are approved. There are a lot Online classes popping up all over the Internet. Likewise, there are several small-time “business” providing DUI classes or other such similar things. Before you go shelling out $100 for a convenient, go-at-your-own-pace Online class, make sure that it’s recognized by your probation officer as an approved program. We’ve heard one to many stories of clients who paid to take a program, spent several hours, got a certificate and then showed up to court only to discover that the class they took won’t be accepted.
3. Start Early. Your might be on probation for a year or two, but that doesn’t mean you have a year or two to complete your class. Often times, the class or classes that you are required to take are not offered every week (or even every month.) You might have to wait a month or two before you start your court ordered class. And if you are taking a class that lasts for 12 weeks or longer, then you might not be done before your probation ends. That could mean that your probation gets extended. One thing that we run into frequently is that a client isn’t ready to take and/or pay for a class. This shouldn’t discourage you from registering.