Averting Recidivism: What Type of Therapy Works?


A new book surveys research and statistics on the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment for those currently and formerly in prison. New Frontiers in Offender Treatment: The Translation of Evidence-Based Practices in Correctional Settings was co-edited by Professors Elizabeth Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins (John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, CUNY).

Historically, according to New Frontiers, therapy has often been provided to “the most amenable, cooperative, and motivated offenders.” What makes more sense, Jeglic said in an interview, is prioritizing support for those at greatest risk of committing serious crimes again, including individuals with long criminal records, a history of violence, and issues like substance abuse.

Research has found cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to be the most effective approach, as opposed to psychoanalytic treatment that seeks insight into why people behave in certain ways. CBT, in contrast, emphasizes actions, problem-solving, and coping strategies.

The latest trends in offender treatment involve “positive psychology,” Jeglic said, including a “strengths-based” approach. That means instead of emphasizing what clients have done wrong, therapists focus on “helping them figure out who they are, what they have done right in their lives, how can they do more of that in the future.”

Jeglic teaches a course on treatment and rehabilitation of offenders. She says the book fills a gap in available literature by providing an overview of techniques that work to prevent recidivism and help individuals create productive lives.

Jeglic and Calkins both contributed chapters. Other contributors include Professors Michele Galietta and Philip Yanos (John Jay, and The Graduate Center); Graduate Center doctoral candidate Joseph DeLuca; and Kseniya Katsman, who holds a master’s degree from John Jay.

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New Frontiers in Offender Treatment
Springer, 2018

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Elizabeth Jeglic (Professor, Psychology) | Profile 1 | Profile 2
Cynthia Calkins (Associate Professor, Psychology) | Profile 1 | Profile 2