Youth Services : Thinking for a Change (T4C)

Introduced in 1977 by the National Institute of Corrections, this cognitive behavioral change program has been implemented with a variety of youth offender populations.

T4C uses a combination of approaches to increase offenders' awareness of self and others. It integrates cognitive restructuring, social skills, and problem solving. The program begins by teaching offenders an introspective process for examining their ways of thinking and their feelings, beliefs, and attitudes. This process is reinforced throughout the program.

Social-skills trainings are provided as an alternative to antisocial behaviors. The program culminates by integrating the skills offenders have learned into steps for problem solving. Problem solving becomes the central approach offenders learn that enables them to work through difficult situations without engaging in criminal behavior.

A brief 15-minute pre-screening session to reinforce the participant's need for the program and the necessity of positive participation is the first step in T4C. Small groups (8 to 12 individuals) are recommended in order to facilitate interactive and productive feedback. The program may be used concurrently or consecutively with other treatment programs. T4C groups serve up to 10 youth in each group cycle. Groups are facilitated by one T4C Intervention Specialist.

A study done by Lowenkamp and Latessa (2006) showed a significant reduction in recidivism for participants of T4C. A 2006 study by the Golden, Gathceland, and Cahill found that 33 percent fewer individuals who completed T4C committed new offenses within 12 months, compared to those that did not attend.