Reentry Helpers, seasoned professionals even, often zero in on The Problem at the expense of The Story.
What do I mean?
Think of The Problem as the straw that breaks the camel's back. The situation or incident that lands your client behind bars, in treatment, or in a program leading right to your desk.
On the other hand, think of The Story as the overall reason things got to the point where the Problem took down the camel.
Another way to look at this: consider The Problem the micro view from 2,500 feet and The Story its macro view sibling from 35,000 feet.
Focusing on the Problem micro view happens because programs and metrics are built around addressing and measuring problems. The big picture Story view is too broad and nearly impossible to quantify. Therefore, it (The Story) must be broken down into manageable and measurable parts (The Problem).
But here's the thing. Your client, the person reentering, needs help with not only their Problem, but their Story too. What's more, they usually don't realize it. They will take your lead and jump on board (to a greater or lesser degree) with solving The Problem, which of course needs to happen. But true success comes when the fundamentals of The Story are addressed; which is to say, the core causes resulting in The Problem.
Your client needs to work through and de-identify with The Story that produced The Problem if there's to be real, long-term, success. But you already know this. You see it every day. We all do. Sadly, taking steps to deal with underlying core issues is NOT the usual way of our society.
Nonetheless, don't give up the fight. Remind yourself and your colleagues at every turn. "Hey, what about the big picture view? What led to all of this, anyway?"
Make an effort to address both, Problem AND Story. Long term success is achieved by fixing problems and creating a New Story, one that aligns with the client's reentry goals and objectives.