Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment

Another type of intervention proven to be effective founded on rigorous scientific evaluations is cognitive-behavioral treatments (CBT). CBT is a learning-oriented approach that demands that the client engage in the here-and-now in an effort to address problematic thinking and behavioral patterns. Although CBT is sometimes thought of as a single approach, it actually represents a wide range of therapeutic methods. Therefore, CBT interventions can be adapted to the targeted cognitive processes and behaviors that need to be changed, such as antisocial attitudes, substance abuse, anger, and other behaviors highly correlated with criminal behavior.

Several meta-analyses show that CBT interventions effectively reduce recidivism when used with offender populations. For example, Wilson et al., found moral recognition therapy resulted in a 33% reduction in recidivism while cognitive restructuring or reasoning approaches resulted in a 16% reduction. Landenberger and Lipsey found that increased dosages of CBT, as measured by the total number of sessions/ hours per week, reduced recidivism by 25% and that CBT programs that utilize a higher standard for quality implementation had a greater impact on reducing recidivism. Similarly, Lipsey, Chapman, and Landenberger found that while overall those offenders who participated in CBT recidivated at approximately one-third the rate of those who did not participate, programs that were classified as “demonstration” programs were more effective in reducing recidivism. As is discussed later, these findings are important because they provide evidence that implementers of proven intervention models must not alter the core principles of the program, or the strength of the outcomes are diminished.

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