Evaluating and Testing Proposed and Existing Policy Interventions
The Weibling Project adheres to the philosophic perspective of Therapeutic Jurisprudence, which lies at the intersection of law and psychology. Following that approach, the Weibling Project studies existing and recommended policy interventions, legislative actions, and specific forms of litigation that advance the well-being of individuals who encounter the law. According to the late Bruce Winick, one of originators of this philosophy, Therapeutic Jurisprudence views law as "a therapeutic agent..." It is concerned with "... legal rules, legal practices, and the way legal actors (such as judges, lawyers, government officials, police officers, and expert witnesses testifying in court) play their roles to impose consequences on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of those affected." It is incumbent upon legal practitioners and researchers to apply principles of Therapeutic Jurisprudence to demonstrate the mental health and improved social functioning benefits of diversity at work, school, and in community environments (e.g., housing). Weibling Project professionals and trainees interact with victims of discrimination in a way that promotes the victims' social well-being and encourages improved functioning.
One way in which the Weibling Project advances its therapeutic aims is by conducting evaluation research to determine whether disparity exists in organizations, and if it does, to develop ways to reduce its incidence and impact. Furthermore, evaluation of existing programs in courts, government agencies, and private sector organizations that have as their goals elimination of discrimination is a specific way in which the Weibling Project embraces the tenets of Therapeutic Jurisprudence. After examining existing and new research, members of the project team propose and begin to test policy innovations, legal interventions (e.g., applying models of civil redress in cases of discrimination) and legal decision-making models that address problems of mental disorder, which arise out of the experience of discrimination. One of the featured purposes of this work is to plan program evaluation studies of the effectiveness of existing policies and legal models designed to decrease the effects of mental illness stigma that result from the experience of discrimination.