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Chapter 3: Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)

A. Statutory Authority

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(9), the court may provide that the defendant “undergo available medical, psychiatric, or psychological treatment, including treatment for drug or alcohol dependency, as specified by the court, and remain in a specified institution if required for that purpose.”

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(22), the court may provide that the defendant “satisfy such other conditions as the court may impose.”

B. Sample Condition Language

You must participate in a cognitive behavioral treatment program and follow the rules and regulations of that program. The probation officer will supervise your participation in the program (provider, location, modality, duration, intensity, etc.). Such programs may include group sessions led by a counselor or participation in a program administered by the probation office. [[You must pay the costs of the program.] [You must pay [$___ per ___ (e.g., visit, week, month)] or [___ % of the costs of the program.]]

C. Purpose

  1. This condition serves the statutory sentencing purposes of public protection, deterrence, and rehabilitation. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(B)-(D).
  2. This condition enables the probation officer to satisfy the statutory requirements to keep informed as to the conduct and condition of the defendant, report the defendant’s conduct and condition to the sentencing court, and aid the defendant and bring about improvements in his or her conduct and condition. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3603(2)-(3).
  3. Social science research suggests that correctional interventions that follow the principles of evidence-based practices (e.g., the risk principle, the need principle, and the responsivity principle) promote positive change in the defendant and reduce the probability of recidivism. According to the responsivity principle, interventions should be generally responsive, meaning that they should use the treatment modality that is capable of changing the major known predictors of recidivism. Research has demonstrated that the most effective approach is to use cognitive-behavioral techniques. Cognitive-behavioral treatment involves exercises and instructions designed to alter the dysfunctional thinking patterns exhibited by many defendants (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(1)).

D. Method of Implementation

  1. When and where available, cognitive-behavioral treatment should be the default choice of treatment for substance-dependent defendants (see: Chapter 3, Section X).
  2. Cognitive-behavioral treatment is also one of the most widely accepted treatment modalities for sex offense-specific services (see: Chapter 3, Section XVIII).
  3. Cognitive-behavioral treatment has broader application than for substance abusing defendants or defendants with a history of sexual offenses. Cognitive-behaviorism assumes that cognitions affect behavior, people can monitor and alter their cognitive activity, and changes in cognitions will lead to changes in behavior. Probation officers may recommend cognitive behavioral treatment for any defendant with dysfunctional thinking patterns that may lead to future criminal behavior.
  4. Cognitive-behavioral treatment can be broken into two different types: clinical and manualized. Clinical treatment is counseling led by a trained and certified counselor. Manualized treatment is an intervention led by a trained facilitator in a group setting. These groups can be facilitated by the probation officer or a contract provider.