Welcome to the online edition of the NIC Thinking for a Change (T4C) package. This package contains all of the videos, slides, handouts, and guides needed to facilitate a T4C program and even includes some bonus videos and reading material. If you are having trouble navigating or opening files, head over to the Help Section for tips and tutorials. To get started, just click on a lesson below or browse the tabs above.
This package is designed to provide an intuitive and single interface for facilitators to access all components of the T4C package. For example, if you want to prepare for Lesson 18 you will click on the "Lesson 18: State the Problem" heading below to view/download the lesson plans, slides, videos, and supplemental material for Lesson 18.
All of the companion videos are located inside the lessons they relate to. If you are using a computer or laptop during the lessons, you can play the videos inside of their lessons below. To show the videos on a standard TV/DVD setup, you must order the hardcopy version of this package which includes a video DVD.
This critically important lesson sets the tone for the entire program by motivating the group members to actively participate in their own learning and taking responsibility for their own life situations. This is accomplished in part by empowering each group member using appropriate positive behavioral "reinforcers."
The lesson provides each group member with an overview of Thinking for a Change and conveys the fundamental idea of Thinking for a Change: We can take charge of our lives by learning more effective ways of thinking.
Group facilitators demonstrate the three cognitive perspectives of the program: social skills, the skill of cognitive self-change, and problem solving skills.
The group members explore the course outline and the rules. Expectations governing participation are explained.
Listening is a social skill required for almost all interactions. It is also a prerequisite skill to participate in a group process such as the Thinking for a Change program. It helps establish norms and expectations about group participation.
Active listening is the deliberate effort to hear and understand what others are saying.
Asking questions is the second social skill that provides a foundation for group interactions and group norms. Learning to ask questions to receive information is critical for one's own needs and is an important skill for group members to master in their quest to take charge of their thinking and take control of their lives.
Asking questions is a basic social skill that helps us meet our needs by getting information or gaining clarification while encouraging others to help us.
Learning to give feedback objectively to others, focusing on behavior and performance, is an important skill for group members to master in all cognitive behavioral programs. Building upon the previous two social skills, active listening and asking questions, this skill teaches group members to provide objective information to others about their thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.
Giving feedback is a way for you to provide information to others in an objective and non-threatening way about what you think or feel concerning what he or she has said or done.
This lesson expands and reinforces the social skills already learned in the previous lessons. Group members need practice focusing on and identifying their feelings. Frequently feelings may be confused with one another and not labeled correctly, often leading to vaguely described but very strong emotions. This lesson also lays a foundation for the lessons that teach the steps of the skill of cognitive self-change.
Feelings are emotions and their accompanying physical sensations. We have feelings almost all of the time but don't always pay attention to them.
This lesson demonstrates how thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs control the way people act. A conflict between an "authority figure" and a person under the control of the person in authority is demonstrated. Group members are asked to determine what thoughts and feelings each person is having. Group members watch a realistic situation where thoughts, feelings, and attitudes and beliefs lead to predictable patterns of acting. They also practice the process of "objective detachment" in looking at the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes and beliefs behind our actions. The lesson ends with an explanation of the steps that comprise the skill of cognitive self-change:
This lesson teaches the technique of thinking reports. Thinking reports are a way for us to observe our own thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs. This is step 1 of cognitive self-change – pay attention to our thinking.
In this lesson group facilitators introduce the parts of the thinking report, present an example of a thinking report, and then each group member presents his/her own thinking report.
Note: This lesson may require two or more sessions to complete. It's very important for every group member to be given time to present a thinking report in class. This process should not be rushed. This is an important foundation skill for cognitive self-change and a key piece of the Thinking for a Change program.
A thinking report is a structured, objective report of what goes on inside our mind during a specific situation. A thinking report has 4 parts:
This lesson uses a sample thinking report to explain step 2 of cognitive self-change – recognize risk. Then group members use their own thinking reports to practice identifying how their thinking led them to break a rule or hurt someone at some time in the past.
Note: This lesson may require two or more sessions to complete. It's very important for every group member to be given time to practice identifying his or her risk thinking during a group session. This process should not be rushed. This is an important foundation for cognitive self-change and a key piece of Thinking for a Change.
Risk thinking: Thoughts or attitudes and beliefs that lead you toward breaking a rule or hurting someone (getting in trouble). Risk thinking may be high risk (when the likelihood of doing something to get in trouble is very great) or low risk (when there is only slight risk of doing something to get in trouble). It is important that group members learn to pay attention to both.
Step 3 of cognitive self-change is to use new thinking. This lesson teaches group members to identify new thinking and use that thinking to reduce their risk of acting in a way that may be criminal or harmful to themselves or others. Remember that Thinking for a Change is an integrated program, so to ultimately apply the three steps of the skill of cognitive self-change, group members will incorporate social skills and problem solving skills.
Risk thinking: Thinking that leads you to do something hurtful or criminal.
New thinking: New thoughts, or attitudes and beliefs that reduce the risk in your thinking.
The 3 steps of cognitive self-change can be practiced in a brief form by using a thinking check-in. With a thinking check-in, each group member reports on a situation in which he/she has experienced some degree of risk. The thinking check-in has 4 parts:
A thinking check-in is a performance of all 3 steps of cognitive self-change. A complete thinking check-in (when new thinking has actually been used) is the complete process of cognitive self-change in miniature. We use the thinking check-in process as part of the homework in future lessons.
A thinking check-in is a brief report of a risk situation and the application of the 3 steps of cognitive self-change to that situation.
This is the first social skills lesson following the cognitive self-change component of Thinking for a Change. As such, it serves as a transition and bridge between the two components. Immediately preceding the lessons on cognitive self-change was the lesson, knowing your feelings. Group members have just completed a detailed exploration of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs that can lead trouble. This social skill, understanding the feelings of others, builds on what was learned in knowing your feelings and directs participants' thinking away from themselves and towards others. It is the foundation for the social skills to be taught in the next four lessons.
The feelings of others are emotions and physical sensations felt by others. The ability to recognize the feelings of others is a basic requirement for effective communication in nearly every situation.
This social skills lesson teaches individuals to express a complaint to an individual or a group of individuals about a situation, condition, or a fact with which they are dissatisfied or unhappy. This skill provides a pro-social alternative to a stressful or problem situation – one in which the group member is empowered to take control of his/her circumstances.
Making a complaint provides an opportunity for an individual to decide what to complain about and to whom, inform the other person about the complaint, and tell the person what might be a mutual, acceptable alternative.
This social skills lesson teaches individuals to express regret or ask forgiveness from an individual or a group of individuals for something they did or for a particular situation.
Apologizing is a statement of regret one person makes to another individual or group of people for something they did, or something that they may have caused to happen.
With many offenders, it is automatic to respond to anger in others with anger of their own. This leads to a cycle of escalating conflict that often results in violence or other destructive behaviors. Therefore, learning to respond appropriately to anger is a critical social skill.
Anger is a common yet dangerous emotion. Appropriately responding to anger in others, especially when that anger is directed towards us, is an important skill that helps one to avoid violence and destructive conflict.
Negotiating is part of a group of skills that are alternatives to aggression. As such, it is sometimes challenging to teach this to those who are anti-social or conduct-disordered. However, because group members have already learned knowing your feelings and understanding the feelings of others, this important skill can deepen and expand the principles learned in these earlier lessons.
Negotiating is when two people discuss a situation where some agreement must be made that is mutually acceptable to both parties. Negotiating introduces the concept of compromise. Negotiating requires using several other social skills including: Listening, asking a question, knowing your feelings and understanding the feelings of others.
This lesson provides an overview of problem solving. The conflict cycle and six problem solving skills are introduced. Problem solving skills are tools that, when used in conjunction with social skills and the skill of cognitive self-change, can change the ways our thinking and acting can get us into trouble, especially in stressful (risky) situations. Subsequent sessions focus on each of the six problem solving skills.
Group members learn each skill by watching the facilitators model it and then practicing it both in the session and by doing homework. Facilitators should help group members to recognize the many common and repeating elements from social skills and cognitive self-change that appear in problem solving.
The conflict cycle is a cycle of thoughts, feelings, actions and consequences that increase and escalate problem situations. The goal of problem solving is to escape the conflict cycle and minimize the negative impact of a particular problem situation. The conflict cycle consists of four parts; the problem; warning signs; actions; and consequences.
The six problem solving skills can be used to help us avoid or escape the conflict cycle.
As a result of this lesson the group members will be able to answer questions that help them apply the problem solving skills to a situation.
Problem solving skill 1: stop and think helps group members to remain in control of their actions rather than reacting emotionally in problem situations.
Stop and think means paying attention to three internal warning signs: physical reactions, risk thoughts, and risk feelings. Without intervention these internal experiences increase the chance of reacting impulsively or emotionally.
Step 1: stop - pay attention to your warning signs – There are three kinds of warning signs to consider: Physical reactions; Risk thoughts; and Risk feelings.
Step 2: think - reduce your risk – Be quiet and get space either physically or mentally, and calm down by taking a deep breath, counting or self-talk.
In your face problems – Problem situations which require immediate action (i.e., seconds or minutes).
Time to think problems – Problem situations where there is time (such as hours or days) to think through the problem.
Group members apply the skills and insights they have developed learning the skill of cognitive self-change to make a simple problem statement. The problem statement consists of an objective description of the problem situation, including identifying warning signs and risk reactions.
This skill reinforces the process of creating an "objective distance" between the group member and the pressure of the problem he/she is facing.
Linking: The problem statement is like a min-thinking report. Group members identify warning signs (physical reactions, risk thoughts, and risk feelings), describe the problem situation simply and objectively (like the situation description in a thinking report), and then identify a potential risk reaction.
There are three steps in problem solving skill 2: state the problem.
Group members engage in two important activities in problem solving skill 3: set a goal and gather information. Step 1 is: identify a positive and realistic goal. Then they analyze the problem through an information gathering process by completing step 2: identify what you know about the situation.
Linkage: Step 2: identify what you know about the situation, reinforces previous skills. Group members were first introduced to the importance of identifying facts in the lessons of cognitive self-change when they practiced writing an objective description of the situation. Group members have practiced how to think about other people's thoughts and feelings throughout the social skills lessons.
Problem solving skill 3: set a goal and gather information is a two-step process:
Fact – an objective description of an event without opinion or interpretation; a statement of what happened, who was involved and what was said and done.
Goal – a desired outcome. Goals give a purpose and focus to what we do. Goals should be realistic and positive. A goal is stated as: I want________ or I want_______, but I don't want_______.
Group members have an opportunity for in-depth practice of the first three problem solving skills.
Demonstrate problem solving skill 1: stop and think; skill 2: state the problem; and skill 3: set a goal to gather information.
This is the "brainstorm" skill of problem solving. Group members stretch their imagination to think of as many actions as they may be able to take in a problem situation. After generating a wide range of actions, group members consider the consequences of each of the possible choices. This step of the skill asks group members to use cause and effect thinking and to imagine the effect of their actions on both themselves and others. Facilitators should be prepared for group members to have different opinions on the consequences of the actions generated. It is important for them to describe reasons they think an outcome may be positive or negative. Sometimes, problem solving means choosing an action with a less negative outcome among a variety of negative outcomes. Facilitators should be prepared to help group members consider how positive or how negative a consequence may be for themselves and for others. The steps of this skill show group members how to look at problems from a broad, social point of view.
Linking to previous lessons – Group members have learned one or more social skills that may be relevant for them to consider.
Brainstorming is opening your mind to think of as many ideas as possible. The ideas do not have to be realistic or positive. Brainstorming possible actions is one of the most important thinking processes involved in problem solving. It helps group members expand their thinking beyond the actions they habitually take in problem situations.
Consequences are the result of one's actions. Predicting consequences can be difficult and that is okay. Consequences can be either positive or negative. It is possible to imagine both positive and negative consequences for actions. The focus should be on developing the cause and effect thinking associated with this problem solving skill.
In this lesson group members learn and practice the steps of problem solving skill 5: make a plan. Creating and following a plan reinforces a principle that runs throughout Thinking for a Change: think before you act.
Linking: Step 5 of this skill incorporates processes group members have practiced in cognitive self-change, social skills, and even earlier in problem solving. It involves using a thought to help you maintain control as you implement your pan.
Make a plan consists of 5 steps:
As a result of this lesson group members will apply problem solving skill 5: make a plan to a real life situation.
In this lesson group members learn and practice the last problem solving skill: do and evaluate. There are three steps:
Based on how we answered questions about what happened, we decide what to
This lesson provides group members the opportunity for collaborative practice of all 6 problem solving skills.
As a result of this lesson the group members will be able to apply all 6 problem solving skills to real life situations.
This program has emphasized the importance of skill practice. The goal of this lesson is to help group members cross the bridge from practicing the skills to making them a part of their everyday way of living.
This lesson will provide closure and give feedback to the group members. It will celebrate their efforts towards new thinking and subsequent behavioral changes.
The skill of cognitive self-change is completed when new thinking is actually practiced. Comprehensive practice of new thinking develops with practice that also includes the application of social skills and problem solving skills.
Social skills provide a pro-social alternative to a stressful or problem situation, one in which the group member is empowered to take control of his/her circumstances.
This appendix provides a list of 50 social skills and their skill
steps, for use in social skills aftercare lessons (see Appendix B). Use
this appendix to help you plan those lessons.
This list of skills is taken from Aggression Replacement Training: A Comprehensive Intervention for Aggressive Youth, Third Edition, by Barry Glick and John C. Gibbs (Champaign, IL: Research Press, 2011). Reprinted by permission of the publisher. Copyright 2011 by Barry Glick and John C. Gibbs.
This lesson provides group members the opportunity for intense practice of all
6 problem solving skills.
As a result of this lesson the group members will be able to apply all 6 problem solving skills in real life situations.
Thinking for a Change (T4C) is an integrated, cognitive behavior change program for offenders that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills. NIC makes available the T4C offender program materials plus a curriculum for training program facilitators.
T4C is designed for delivery to small groups in 25 lessons and can be expanded on to meet the needs of specific participant group. The curriculum was developed by Barry Glick, Ph.D., Jack Bush, Ph.D., and Juliana Taymans, Ph.D., in cooperation with the National Institute of Corrections. It is used in prisons, jails, community corrections, probation, and parole supervision settings. Participants include adults and juveniles, males and females.
Correctional agencies can consider Thinking for a Change as one option in a continuum of interventions to address the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of their offender populations.
The following video, "Thinking for a Change 3.0 Worth the Wait!", will review the basics of T4C and unveil the newest improvements to this time-tested program. This video is not intended to train individuals on how to run T4C, but rather it will prepare those who have been previously trained to implement the changes in version 3.0. After watching this program, you will be able to:
Designed for individuals and agencies currently using the Thinking for a Change program, this 3-hour video addresses the necessary skills and tools for administrators and facilitators of the program to help sustain the quality of their efforts, enhance their motivation and endurance, and protect the program's integrity over time. The Thinking for a Change program requires careful management staffing, support, and periodic review and modification to ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of the offender population. The goals of this video are to expose facilitators to new and exciting techniques to use within the program, present tips to help support their motivation and endurance, increase their capacity to gain the expected behavioral change with their offender population, provide program guidance for managers who have oversight responsibility for the Thinking for a Change program, and help agencies achieve consistency among program facilitators. Topics include the management role in program delivery, instructional strategies and techniques to enhance group facilitation, quality measures to sustain program consistency, and facilitator objectivity as the cornerstone of the program's success.
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The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is a small agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Institute is headed by a director appointed by the U.S. Attorney General. An advisory board, consisting of 10 appointed members and 6 ex officio members, established by the enabling legislation (Public Law 93-415) provides policy direction to the Institute.
We provide training, technical assistance, information services, and policy/program development assistance to federal, state, and local corrections agencies. Through cooperative agreements, we award funds to support our program initiatives. We also provide leadership to influence correctional policies, practices, and operations nationwide in areas of emerging interest and concern to correctional executives and practitioners as well as public policymakers.
In September 1971, a major riot at New York's Attica prison focused national attention on corrections and the practice of imprisonment in the United States. In response to public concern and recognizing the problems in corrections facilities and programs at the State and local levels, Attorney General John N. Mitchell convened a National Conference on Corrections in Williamsburg, Virginia, in December 1971.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, in his keynote address before the 450 conference participants, expressed support for the establishment of a national training academy for corrections. The training academy would:
"The National Institute of Corrections is a leader in contributing to a just and humane society."
"The National Institute of Corrections is a center of learning, innovation and leadership that shapes and advances effective correctional practice and public policy."
Goal I: To advance the field of corrections.
Goal II: To ensure NIC creates and sustains internal excellence and organizational learning and creates the highest customer value.
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is administered by a Director appointed by the U.S. Attorney General. A 16-member Advisory Board provides policy direction to the Institute. The Institute has a core staff of 51, augmented by experienced corrections specialists on loan for 2-year periods from state and local governments and others assigned from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
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