Re-thinking Reentry

Re-thinking Reentry
Recent Study Confirms that Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Works to Reduce Recidivism
Written by Lama Hassoun, Researcher at the Harlem Community Justice Center

Over the last 10 years, many research studies have looked at how effective Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) programs are and their impact on those who participate.

In 2007, a comprehensive research study attempted to provide a fuller picture of the effectiveness of CBT programs with offenders and the difference between the different kinds of brand name CBT programs .

The study confirmed the findings of previous studies, showing that offenders who received CBT were 1.53 times less likely to recidivate when compared to offenders who did not receive CBT. Statistically, this is considered to be a significant difference.

The researchers also looked at the differences between the different “brand” name CBT programs. They found NO difference between them and concluded that the general CBT approach is responsible for the overall positive effect on recidivism. They found that including distinct anger control problems and interpersonal problem solving components really enhanced the effects of CBT.

High quality implementation of CBT was found to have a strong impact on the chance of recidivism of the offenders. High quality implementation was defined as low rates of people dropping out of the CBT program, close monitoring of quality and fidelity of the treatment implementation, and adequate CBT training for the providers.

It is also VERY encouraging that the effects of CBT were greater for offenders with higher risk of recidivism than those with lower risk, which contradicts any assumptions that high risk offenders might be less willing to undergo treatment.

Interestingly, offenders treated in prison showed recidivism decreases comparable to those offenders treated in the community (probation, parole, or transitional aftercare). Researchers also found that CBT was as effective for juveniles as it was for adults.

All in all, this study is very promising for providers in their attempts to assist offenders in reintegrating in their communities. CBT has been proven to be effective, time and time again.

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