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25 Years of Thinking for a Change

Now in its 25th year, Thinking for a Change (T4C) remains the most requested training offered by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), generating up to 100 inquiries a week for the program. T4C is a cognitive-behavioral change program that applies research from cognitive restructuring theory, social skills development, and problem solving to help justice-involved individuals learn how to manage their lives by managing their thinking. The program has been proven to reduce recidivism when delivered as instructed through proper training and bolstered with conditions (such as scheduling, providing materials and technology) that support participating individuals’ success. To date, NIC has trained over 10,000 T4C facilitators and over 1,000 T4C trainers from nearly 40 states and U.S. territories.

Since its inception, the program has undergone many changes, from once being an in-person-only course to now being available in a hybrid in-person and online format and in multiple languages.  T4C Program Manager and Correctional Program Specialist Archie Weatherspoon, IV, believes the popularity for the program stems from its strong foundation in the principles of cognitive-behavioral intervention. While cognitive-behavioral therapies and interventions are widely popular now and understood to have a positive effect on high-risk offenders, research and support for these approaches were fairly new when T4C was first developed in 1998.

Cognitive behavioral approaches ask participants to think carefully about their thoughts. They are taught to stop, think, and get quiet before acting on decisions. The quiet makes room for thinking through better solutions to problems outside of criminal activity.

The latest version of the T4C program, T4C 4.0, is delivered throughout the country by correctional staff working with individuals in jails, prisons, community corrections, parole, and probation settings. Like all NIC programs, T4C is also available at no cost, which makes this highly respected, evidence-based training invaluable both to corrections and the communities they serve. 

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