Against the Grain: Therapeutic Judging in a Traditional Family Court

Lens, Vicki A.

The last several decades have seen a proliferation of specialized courts, including within the family court system, that deviate from the adversarial model, and that rely on therapeutic jurisprudence and other problem-solving techniques. Whether and how traditional family courts can incorporate the best practices of these specialized courts is a largely understudied area. Drawing from ethnographic observations of a traditional urban family court, this study finds that some judges are able to transform nontherapeutic courtrooms into therapeutic ones despite obstacles. These “against the grain” actors, who act contrary to the institution's dominant norms and practices, demonstrate how therapeutic jurisprudence and other problem-solving techniques can be utilized in traditional courtrooms.



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Law & Social Inquiry

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Social Work
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September 25, 2015