11 March 2024

Designing and delivering effective rehabilitation

A programme Facilitator listens attentively to a group of participants

Rehabilitation programmes are a key part of our work at Corrections, and an important tool in supporting positive change. Evidence suggests programmes that are well-designed and well-delivered can have a real impact on reducing reoffending.

But what goes into ensuring a programme is well-designed and well-delivered? How can we continue to improve and get better outcomes for people? Who needs to be involved to make it all happen?

We spoke to some of our staff working in the programmes space to learn about what goes into creating an effective rehabilitation programme - how it is designed, what it’s like running it, and the processes for evaluation and review. They share their insights into the process, as well as the different career opportunities at each stage.

Evidence, insights, and the design process

Rehabilitation programmes, in a nutshell, involve focused group sessions that help people to understand and address their offending.

We have a range of rehabilitation programmes at Corrections, each designed specifically for the particular group and rehabilitative needs that are being targeted. Many of these are designed and delivered in-house and some are delivered by external agencies.

It’s in the initial design phase that Claire, Principal Adviser - Rehabilitation Programmes, and her team, are involved in.

After the need for a programme has been identified, Claire’s team is responsible for understanding the evidence base, researching approaches, developing session content and consulting widely to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

“Generally, we’ll start with doing a literature review, and understanding the research and evidence that we currently have in that area. This, along with the overall design of the programme, is done from a bicultural perspective, working closely with Kaupapa Māori advisers.

“We also need to think about the population or group the programme is focused on and some of the operational complexities to work through - for example, with community-based programmes people may have other commitments in their lives, such as employment, that we want to ensure we can support while participating in the programme”.

To ensure the programme can operate in a particular setting, such as prison or the community,  it’s important to make sure that there's high levels of consultation with stakeholders. This includes those on the frontline, such as probation and case management, and the local community (e.g. iwi and reintegration providers).

“When writing the session content, you need to ensure that it can be followed by Programme Facilitators and that we uphold the integrity of the programme by it being delivered as intended. However, we also need to ensure there is some degree of flexibility for individual needs.

And we need to think about ‘future proofing’ it, as well as the review process - what data will be collected to assess whether it is effective? Effectiveness is not just about reducing reoffending, it’s also about enhancing someone’s life and their wellbeing, including their whānau.”

As well as Claire’s team, who are responsible for the rehabilitation programmes for Programme Facilitators to run, there is also a Psychology Programmes team who are focused on high-intensity programmes run by our Psychologists. At times, programmes can be co-delivered by both Programme Facilitators and Psychologists.

Running a programme

Once a programme has been designed, it’s Programme Facilitators that run them with participants.

Programme Facilitator Saeni says that the ‘facilitation’ aspect of the role title is key.

“I think a lot of people come in here with this expectation that we’re there to teach them, but our role is to facilitate. When we facilitate, we’re hearing ideas and experiences from the group and trying to help people make sense of them”.

“People come in with their own experiences, and the skills and tools they already have. They just might not have a name for it.”

She says that key to the role is understanding and adapting to different people and group dynamics, while staying true to the programme. There’s a strong element of reflection in the role, with supervision from both a practice supervisor (another Programme Facilitator or Psychologist), as well as Kaupapa Māori supervision. 

The team also works closely with others across the department, including Corrections Officers, Probation Officers, and Case Managers, to get other perspectives on how they can help people on their programmes succeed.


The final stage in the process is reviews and evaluations, which is where Claire and her team come in again. Reviews help to ensure that programmes are continuously improved upon, and any feedback is heard.

“As well as data analysis, this generally involves interviewing people who have participated in the programmes and their whānau. We’ll then analyse the themes from that feedback and look into how we could adjust the programme.”

Reviews can occur for several reasons - it could be because of changes to policy and legislation, or due to a pilot coming to an end.

Like with the design of the programmes, it’s important that reviews are considered from a bi-cultural lens, with the support of Kaupapa Māori advisers.  Check out our case study on the Kowhiritanga programme for insight into how this is done.

And like with all stages of the process, collaboration across the organisation is key in getting a good result.

Thinking about a career in the programmes space?

There are many different aspects that go into a successful programme - from the initial design, through to how its run, and the review process. This means a range of different roles that contribute to the process, with plenty of scope for ongoing career growth.

Claire, for example, started out as a psychologist before moving into the programme design and delivery space, while Saeni supports her colleagues as a supervisor as well as working as a Programme Facilitator herself.

If you’re curious about a career in the team, check out our current vacancies, or get in touch with us directly at [email protected]

Ready to make a move?

Start your journey - check out the a list of our current opportunities then apply online today!