"Thinking for a Change and Thinking Reports"
Thinking for a Change and Thinking Reports The research literature indicates that interventions most successful with juvenile offenders involve a cognitive-behavioral approach. Thinking for a Change is an evidence-based curriculum which focuses on the link between thoughts and behavior. The central concept is that: Thinking controls our behavior and that by taking charge of our thinking we can take control of our lives; To achieve long term, positive change one must be motivated internally; and Self-awareness and self-responsibility promote self-change. While at the orientation and assessment unit, each youth will complete lessons 1 and 5-9 in the Thinking for a Change curriculum. The Thinking for a Change curriculum uses real-life examples to raise the youth’s awareness of the impact of risk factors on his or her criminal behavior. In these lessons, the youth will learn, through active participation and practicing, basic skills such as how to listen, how to ask questions, how to give feedback to others, how thinking controls behavior, how some ways of thinking can lead to trouble and how to change their own thinking, improving behavior and resultant outcomes of that behavior. Youth will participate in 4 group sessions a week consisting of 1 hour per session with an appropriately trained case manager. Once a youth has participated in these nine lessons, he/she will be familiar with using a “thinking report” and the “check-in” process. Both of these will be used as part of the positive behavioral change system at all TYC facilities and on parole. The CoNEXTions strategy is based on the belief that all youth can change their behavior. Changing behavior is a process that happens over time, and while during the process youth strive to improve, they do, at times, resort to old behaviors. As youth need the assistance of all staff members to change, “thinking reports” are used to assist youth through the process of change. The thinking report provides a consistent and semi-structured, repetitive process to remind and reinforce the youth’s examination of thoughts, feelings and beliefs and skills development. Through the process of writing “Thinking Reports” (i.e., expressing his or her underlying thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs in a given situation) the youth begins to see the patterns in his or her thinking and behavior. By understanding that these underlying attitudes and beliefs create internal or external “triggers,” the youth is now able to develop the internal controls which are proven to have a long-term impact on behavior change. The "Thinking Report" (see Appendix D), can be used individually and in a group setting. The purpose of the thinking report is to help the youth pay attention to his/her thoughts and feelings, recognize where there is risk of thoughts and feelings leading them to trouble and to use new thinking that reduces that risk and keeps them from detrimental behavior. Thinking reports are the main 2 10 09 technique for objectively observing and reporting thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes. Thinking reports are usually written and include these four (4) steps: 1. Brief description of the situation - stick with the facts, tell what happened, who was involved and what was said and done. 2. Thoughts - ideas or words in our mind. 3. Feelings - emotions that go along with our thoughts 4. Attitudes or Beliefs - the thinking that goes on behind our particular thoughts and feelings. Attitudes and beliefs are rules, principles or habits of thinking with which we conduct our lives. In our interactions with others and within society, attitudes and beliefs will often help us or prevent us from success. Examples of these include: “If you work hard, you will be successful.” “You get what you give.” “If someone disrespects you, you must take care of it.” “You get what you can take.” The "Check In" refers to a group process when a behavior or incident occurs or is about to occur that would interrupt the normal flow of the day. A check-in is quick - not longer than 10 minutes. Check-Ins are used when there is negative behavior occurring or about to occur, or when a staff member observe one of the youth doing something positive. The process is simple. The staff member calls the group together, states or discusses the behavior, asks the youth to discuss the thoughts and feelings he/she was having, has the youth identify and explain the risks in these thoughts and feelings (or discuss how their thoughts and feelings led to the positive behavior), asks the group to help identify risk in this person’s thoughts and feelings, asks the youth to identify new thinking that would have reduced this risk, asks the group what new thinking could have been used in this situation, asks the youth how his/her behavior would be different in the future if he/she replaces their thinking with the new thinking. As the youth uses the lessons learned in the Thinking for a Change curriculum, the Cognitive Life Skills curriculum, and practices thinking reports with staff, he/she build skills such as goal setting, problem solving, dealing with difficult people, controlling impulsive behaviors and/or aggression, monitoring distorted thoughts, and monitoring internal and external triggers that can lead to trouble. In addition to providing information about risk and protective factors, the PACT also provides a measurement of a youth’s skills. Ultimately, building these skills will increase protective factors and increase the youth’s likelihood of being successful upon community re-entry. 2 10 09