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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Cognitive Behavioral Treatment

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
6 pages
After explaining the features and objectives of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy/Treatment (CBT), this report reviews the literature on the uses and effectiveness of CBT in changing problem behaviors in the the following areas: 1) violence and criminality; 2) substance use and abuse; 3) teen pregnancy and risky sexual behaviors; and 4) school failure.
CBT combines two kinds of psychotherapy, i.e., cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and changing thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs that underlie specific problem behaviors. Behavioral therapy focuses on the development of specific behaviors and contexts that can supplant or weaken harmful and debilitating behaviors. Evaluation research has documented the beneficial effects of the combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Regarding substance use and abuse, CBT has proven to alter faulty beliefs and attitudes about the universality of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use while teaching behaviors that both avoid and resist the contexts and stimuli that trigger drug use and abuse. CBT has also been effective in countering the thoughts, justifications, and rationales that underlie delinquent, criminal, and violent behavior. Meta-analyses of CBT programs designed for criminal offenders indicate they have been highly effective in reducing recidivism rates. Programs designed to reduce harm related to adolescent sexual behavior have also successfully used CBT strategies to forestall the initiation of sexual activity and meet the health need of adolescents who are currently sexually active. CBT strategies have also been used to address self-defeating thoughts linked to poor school performance and misperceptions about the value of committing to educational goals. 28 references

Date Published: September 1, 2010