Thinking About Stealing
by Steven Houseworth, MA
I was in a meeting a few days ago with a group of fellow educators. The subject of "THEFT TALK" came up and Mrs. Rollins said, "What I want to know is how you talk people out of stealing?" Trying to be brief and appropriate to the setting, I gave an answer which pacified the audience. To me, the question was as important as the answer. It had never struck me that "THEFT TALK" would be perceived as trying to "talk people out of stealing."
Recognizing Mrs. Rollins' question was a legitimate one, it lingered in the back of my mind. She was right, it would be easy to make the assumption that an agency called "THEFT TALK" would try to talk clients out of stealing. This perception could pose several problems for the agency. From a marketing perspective we could be perceived as amateurish lay persons. From a client's perspective it could cause defensiveness even before entering our door.
Simply stated, a better answer for Mrs. Rollins would be that "THEFT TALK" has never tried to talk people out of stealing.
"THEFT TALK" talks about stealing. "THEFT TALK" talks about thinking, and "THEFT TALK" talks about thinking about stealing.
"THEFT TALK" focuses on thinking - the offender's thinking, their thinking errors and thinking omissions. We not only talk, we also have our clients think, - about stealing. This may sound trite and, at first hearing, you may try to blow this notion off as meaningless. However, the fact is we are very successful at having our offenders talk and think about stealing. Interestingly this may be the first time these people have ever seriously thought or talked about stealing, - or on any one subject for that matter, - ever, in their entire lives. Think about it, when is the last time you stopped and talked, or thought, on any one subject for four continuous hours.
At "THEFT TALK" we do not try to talk people out of stealing. We do the opposite. We set them free. We recognize we have no control over our client's lives and openly admit this to them. We have ideas and we have an agenda, but we don't try to sell or cajole. We tell our clients they are not required to agree with us but they do need to understand us. We have ideas and they are only required to think about and understand those ideas. They are free to present their own ideas. They are free to make their own choices. Choices which, after "THEFT TALK", are not impulsive, instinctual, or likely to be based on pure selfish greed. Choices which come from, for the first time in their lives, having examined themselves, their actions, and the issue of stealing. Choices which go beyond their animalistic survival of the fittest response, and their previous dog eat dog selfish mentality. Choices including new variables which, now, must also be considered. Choices which allow the metamorphosis from human animal to that of human being. Choices which now include other people as part of the formula.
No, "THEFT TALK" does not try to talk people out of stealing. "THEFT TALK" asks its clients to think. The goal is for each client to think themselves into, or out of, stealing. Knowledge reveals options and choices. Knowledge sets them free, and simultaneously provides new boundaries.
"THEFT TALK" -- Since 1983
An Outcome Alternatives™ program
West Linn, OR 97068
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