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Martha Russell


Thursday, August 19, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mt  Noon Central, 1 pm EST, 2 pm Atlantic, 7 pm Zurich, 8 pm Istanbul

Helping Those with Criminal Records Move Forward

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Whatever your workplace setting, providing career services means you are going to meet with clients facing multiple barriers. Sometimes those barriers include criminal histories. As a former one-stop career center worker, a career counselor and a national trainer for the Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) certification, Martha would like to share some of her thoughts and ideas with how you might most effectively work with this population.  She will discuss key  strategies you can employ in helping clients re-enter the workforce, such as the following:

  • Work with the person, not the crime
  • Use effective facilitation skills
  • Provide appropriate resource information  
  • Learn role of decision-making and evaluation
  • Become familiar with a transition model

Activity: Transition Model

Author Nancy Schlossberg proposes that there are fours parts to a transition. When working with a client, practitioners may find that following this four step process can be an effective way to interview the client and/or help them move through their reentry process. Answer the following questions related to clients with a criminal history:

Situation: a transition is often triggered by a specific situation. For someone with a criminal history, it may be a sense of frustration that has led him or her to your door. Understanding the timing of the transition is important.  

  • How urgent is the need for specific services?
  • Do your clients need a “job” to meet reentry conditions or are they working on keeping that job, moving forward or some other expressed need?
  • How much control do your clients have regarding their transition?
  • What else is going on in the individual’s life at this time?

Self: coping with transition comes from experiences, beliefs and inner strength.

  • How can you help your clients understand their general outlook on life?
  • How have they have handled transitions in the past?

Support:  critical to dealing with transitions is the availability and use of resources. 

  • Who are the people in your clients' life?
  • What services, programs and community members are available?

Strategy:  although developing an action plan may be the goal, this stage may not come easily to the person with multiple barriers. It may be important to address this from the perspective of short time frames, frequent evaluation, and adjustment.  

  • What are your clients' short-term goals?
  • How can your clients evaluate their progress?

Schlossberg, Nancy (1989) Overwhelmed: Coping with life’s ups and downs. Lexington, KY: Lexington Press.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


Martha Russell, MS, MCC, NCC, maintains a private career consulting firm. Since 1987, she has provided career development services as a career counselor, consultant, trainer and frequent conference presenter. She is a former president of the National Career Development Association (NCDA) and the California Career Development Association (CCDA). Martha works with federal employees in a variety of agencies. She has been working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as a career coach since 2005. Other federal agencies with which Martha has worked include the Department of Defense, National Institute of Corrections, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Martha has served as an adjunct faculty member at John F. Kennedy University in California and City University in Vancouver, Washington. She is also a Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor and a National Institute of Corrections Master Trainer for program managers and law enforcement officers. Martha holds a Masters' in Career Counseling from California State University-Sacramento and a Bachelors' in Theatre Education from Texas Woman's University.


Martha Russell


Russell Career Services
PO Box 2647
Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone (Pacific) 360-686-1924

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Interview Questions


  1. How did you get into working with the ex-offender population?
  2. Why should the average career practitioner know about how to provide services to the ex-offender population?
  3. Who are your population? What do you bring to this role?
  4. What kinds of counseling skills are particularly effective working with the ex-offender population?
  5. Can you talk about some specific examples?
  6. At what point in a re-entry program do you start using facilitation skills?
  7. What other kinds of facilitation skills are important?
  8. What kinds of questions do you ask? 
  9. How can listeners find out more about re-entry programs?
  10. You provided an activity for indiviuals in transition.  How do you suggest career pracititioners use Nancy Schlossberg's model with their clients?  How could they collaborate with others who are involved in the client's re-entry program?
  11. What is the Hire Network and how could that be of benefit to those who support the ex-offender population?
  12. Career practitioners, especially at workforce centers, are on overload.  How can that feeling of overwhelm be relieved?
  13. Have there been any statistics validating the effectiveness of this kind of re-entry intervention?
  14. Are there other populations that could benefit from the kinds of career practitioner support that you have been discussing.
  15. What are your future plans for your career development?
  16. In summary, what are the main point that you have discussed that relate to providing career support for the ex-offender population?














DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.