Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


In 2016, over 47,000 youths in the state of Florida were served by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) probation services. While on probation, these youths were exposed to 2 different, and potentially conflicting disciplinary management systems. Youth are under the authority of juvenile probation officers (JPOs), who are bound to a consequence-based management approach. This approach is guided by negative reinforcement. The youths are simultaneously engaged with staff from diversion programs, many of which are strengths-based and guided by positive reinforcement. According to the ecosystemic complexity theory of conflict, exposure to incongruent systems can have negative effects such as confusion and ineffectiveness. By applying a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, I explored the responses to this convergence point from the perspective of 9 strengths-based school counseling staff members who supervise the youth that navigate between these 2 different behavior modification systems. This sample of 9 staff members also work directly with JPOs. Data were collected using iterative versions of semistructured interviews and analyzed using content analysis. Findings revealed that conflict did exist at the convergence point, and that cohesion, on varying levels, also existed, and that solutions to the philosophical incompatibility have emerged. This research contributes to social change by illuminating the possible conflict inherent in implementing incongruent approaches to behavior management, which may inform policymakers regarding program management for juvenile justice.