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Counseling in the Criminal Justice System

Autor:   •  November 6, 2018  •  1,728 Words (7 Pages)  •  38 Views

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The effectiveness of CBT was tested in a study done by Thomas Feucht (2106). He found that programs with certain topic areas were more successful than others. Corrections and re-entry, crime and crime prevention, and victims and victimization have larger numbers – higher proportions – of “Effective” or “Promising” interventions. Only a small number of the cognitive behavioral programs deal with sex offenders or domestic violence, and although most of these are rated “Promising,” none are rated “Effective.”

It’s not all about recidivism though. CBT has many other benefits that are not of cannot be measured. For example, the outcome of a specific female offender is that her children are less likely to be drug addicted when they are born (Milkman, 2007). Other benefits of CBT are Helping crime victims recover from trauma, treating sex offenders, preventing truancy, reducing substance abuse, using incarceration-based adult therapeutic communities to prevent recidivism, and preventing domestic violence reoffending. (Feucht, 2016)

Aos and Drake (2013) conducted a cost–benefit analysis of CBT for moderate- and high-risk adult offenders. They estimated that the cost of delivering the therapy is approximately $419 per participant (specifically in the state of Washington). In addition, they found that overall, due to reductions in crimes committed by adult offenders, cognitive behavioral therapy has a benefit-to-cost ratio of $24.72; that is, for every one dollar spent on CBT programming, there is a benefit of $24.72. Clearly, CBT is a cost-effective form of therapy and an effective solution to recidivism.

So, does CBT work? The answer is yes – in some cases. It appears to be more effective with juveniles. This is consistent with the conceptual basis of CBT. Adults may have developed more deeply rooted cognitive processes that may be more difficult to change. It also appears to be consistently effective in helping crime victims deal with trauma. And there is good evidence that, in the controlled setting of a prison therapeutic community, CBT can reduce the risk of reoffending.

But CBT doesn’t always work. The practices offer mixed evidence on the use of CBT for treating sex offenders, and we found “No Effects” ratings for CBT in preventing domestic violence reoffending. Among the individual programs, even in the areas with the strongest evidence that CBT works, there are still ineffective CBT programs: Of the 50 programs we reviewed, six received “No Effects” ratings and seven offered “Insufficient Evidence” to reach a conclusion about program effectiveness.

At present, researchers suggest that implementing cognitive-behavioral therapy into treatment programs within correctional facilities can significantly decrease recidivism rates by approximately 10-15%, a pattern that has been observed across North American and select European countries. Many treatment programs for prison populations are continuing to be developed within a CBT framework, with the goal of each program providing correctional facilities with a low-cost, high-success treatment plan to help reduce recidivism and, in turn, discontinue overcrowded prisons.


Aos, S. & Drake, E. (2013). Prison, police, and programs: Evidence-based options that reduce crime and save money (Doc. No. 13-11-1901). Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Clark, Patrick. 2010. “Preventing Future Crime with CBT.” NIJ Journal 265:22–25.

Durose, Matthew R., Alexia D. Cooper, and Howard N. Snyder, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 (pdf, 31 pages), Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, April 2014, NCJ 244205.

Feucht, Thomas, and Tammy Holt, “Does CBT Work in Criminal Justice? A New Analysis from,” NIJ Journal 277 (2016): 10-17, available at crimesolutions-cbt.aspx.

Landenberger, N.A., and M. Lipsey, "The Positive Effects of Cognitive-behavioral Programs for Offenders: A Meta-analysis of Factors Associated With Effective Treatment," Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1 (2005): 451-476.

Lipsey MW, Landenberger NA, Wilson SJ. Effects of cognitive-behavioral programs for criminal offenders. Campbell Systematic Reviews 2007:6 DOI: 10.4073/csr.2007.6

Lipsey, M.W., "The Primary Factors That Characterize Effective Interventions With Juvenile Offenders: A meta-analytic overview," Victims and Offenders 4 (2009): 124-147.

Lowenkamp, Christopher T., and Edward J. Latessa. 2004. “Understanding the Risk Principle: How and Why Correctional Interventions Can Harm Low-Risk Offenders.” Topics in Community Corrections:3–8.


Milkman, H., and K. Wanberg, Cognitive- Behavioral Treatment: A Review and Discussion for Correction Professionals, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2007.

Yochelson, S., and S.E. Samenow, The Criminal Personality, Volume I: A Profile for Change, New York: Jason Aronson, 1976; and Walters, G., The Criminal Lifestyle: Patterns of Serious Criminal Conduct, Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1990.


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