Investing in Moral Reconation Therapy Provides Alternatives

RS EDEN recently completed a new contract with the Minnesota Department of Corrections. DOC will use the MN Star to assess for risk levels and will refer high and medium risk offenders to RS EDEN. If RS EDEN accepts the individual into rehabilitation services, the DOC will pay $10-15 per diem. Using evidence-based practices and gender responsive programming, we provide a safe environment for clients to make necessary internal changes to promote rehabilitation.

In January, Correctional Counseling, Inc. trained RS EDEN Recovery Services staff in MRT-Moral Reconation Therapy and the use of MRT with High Risk/High Need clients. MRT is the premiere cognitive-behavioral program for substance abuse treatment and criminal justice offenders. Research illustrates that MRT-treated offenders show significantly lower recidivism for as up to 20 years after treatment, with re-arrest and re-incarceration rates 25-75% lower than expected.

This intensive training explored the dynamics and personality traits of clients who are antisocial or who have other personality disorders. In addition, staff learned about the primary characteristics, evolution, and application of cognitive-behavioral techniques. MRT addresses beliefs and reasoning. It is a systematic, step-by-step group counseling treatment approach designed to alter how individuals think and make judgments about right and wrong.

RS EDEN already specializes in treating High Risk/High Need clients using evidence-based therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Behavior Modification, and a Therapeutic Community approach. MRT essentially combines these approaches by delivering a systematic, cognitive behavioral, step-by-step treatment strategy proven to help participants, amongst other goals, develop higher stages of moral reasoning. MRT can be delivered as a primary treatment service/program or as a separate tract within a program. At RS EDEN, it will be delivered as the later with MRT trained staff reviewing referrals for admission to small established groups from our client population. DOC grant referents will participate in new tract along with RS EDEN's primary programming.

MRT groups begin as groups of 3-4 referents chosen by trained staff. As the group progresses, 1-2 referents will be added weekly with a maximum group size of 15. Each week group members complete course work in their individual MRT workbook and present completed assignments to the group, the MRT trained facilitators, or simply turn in their workbooks for review. Established group members vote on assignments and advancing to higher steps with trained staff providing direction and feedback as outlined in their MRT Facilitator’s Handbook.

Nicole Frass of RS EDEN’s Women’s Program has been facilitating MRT programming since December and reports positive results. She notes that clients not in tract are interested after they hear about it from approved participants. The Men’s Program will begin forming their first MRT group in February 2017.