The construction of ‘therapeutic’ in the Alcohol and Other Drug Courts of New Zealand

K Thom1* & S Black1

University of Auckland

*corresponding author:

This paper will explore the construction of ‘therapeutic’ in the Alcohol and Other Drug Court pilots of Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on qualitative research that included courtroom observation, interviews with the court team professionals, and document analysis, the presentation will explore the four strands – Law, Lore, Recovery and Drug Court Best Practice – that we argue are woven together to produce a therapeutic philosophy of the AODTC. Understanding the ‘therapeutic’ as a practical accomplishment in the AODTC, we will illustrate the weaving of these strands with examples grounded in the everyday reality of professionals as they interact within the courtroom. We will then consider how the therapeutic philosophy adopted in AODTCs can be understood within the context of international conceptualisations of therapeutic jurisprudence, as well as the ways in which the AODTCs may be developing organically to reflect the unique cultural, legal, and clinical practices of Aotearoa. The presentation will conclude by considering some of the challenges faced by the professional team that have the potential to disrupt the production of the ‘therapeutic’ in the AODTC.


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