A Whole Person Strengths-Based Approach to Forensic Mental Health 

Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) is an evidence-based approach rooted in the cognitive model that focuses on strengthening an individual’s positive beliefs, identifying important goals and aspirations for the future, and engaging in meaningful activities in line with their values. This approach can be applied flexibly within a variety of settings along the justice continuum by a range of providers or staff (e.g., clinicians, social workers, case managers, peer providers, correctional staff, court stakeholders, or probation/parole officers). CT-R is transdiagnostic and can empower individuals with a range or combination of mental health, physical health, and life-related challenges.

Applying CT-R Within the Justice System 

The Sequential Intercept Model1 describes how individuals move through the justice system and provides information about how and when they may come into contact with mental health services, and shows opportunities for diversion to rehabilitative programming. Our team has worked with a range of organizations described in the model, including crisis services, mental health and other problem-solving courts, assisted outpatient commitment, community forensic residences, inpatient forensic hospitals, and reentry services.

How CT-R Helps Organizations and Systems 

CT-R empowers staff in both clinical (e.g., psychiatrists, therapists, social workers) and non-clinical roles (e.g., peers, case managers, and corrections staff) to move individuals along the justice process. Our approach can help mitigate criminogenic risk factors by building up a personally meaningful identity, and through exploration of aspirations and positive action regardless of setting, circumstance, or legal limitations. CT-R has been used to facilitate community reentry, complement competency restoration treatment, and empower individuals serving uncertain or lifelong sentences. 

The CT-R approach can be integrated into existing programs and services. It can help staff members understand the challenges justice-involved individuals face (including but not limited to mental health challenges). It can guide strategies to build a meaningful life beyond justice-involvement. CT-R can enhance engagement and participation in programming (e.g., competency restoration treatment or mandated community treatment).

The Beck Institute Center for Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy provides customized training to those who work within the forensic system or programs who serve currently or formerly justice-involved individuals. Training can include workshops and technical assistance that aid implementation fidelity and ongoing sustainability (e.g., creation of resources or curriculum development, train-the-trainer models, and data/outcome collection). 

Email CT-R Program Director, Paul Grant, PhD, to find out more.

Empowering Justice-Involved Individuals and Mitigating Criminogenic Risk 

Identifying an individual’s strengths, values, and aspirations is an important part of CT-R and can help increase protective factors that mitigate criminogenic risk. Through meaningful connections, working towards important aspirations, and pursuing education, vocational, or volunteer opportunities, individuals begin to reimagine their identity, notice their strengths, see themselves in a more positive light, and build resilience. Using CT-R strategies to intentionally strengthen these positive beliefs creates lasting empowerment; individuals believe in their ability to navigate future challenges, transition between levels of forensic care (e.g., community reentry), and remain crime-free.   

Individual Training in CT-R

If you are not part of a larger organizational training effort, you can learn CT-R directly from its pioneering developers in a variety of convenient formats, including live workshops, webinars, and self-paced on-demand courses.

Selected Publications 

Beck Institute has extensive experience working with justice-involved individuals and helping them flourish using CT-R. Understanding the CT-R framework can help those who work within the justice system connect with justice-involved individuals and help them pursue the life of their choosing outside the system. Read more about CT-R and its many applications: 

1 Munetz, M.R. & Griffin, P.A. (2006). Use of the sequential intercept model as an approach to decriminalization of people with serious mental illness. https://www.samhsa.gov/criminal-juvenile-justice/sim-overview