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NIC’s Thinking for a Change: Fostering Positive Change
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In 2013, while helping ship over 1,800 copies of the new Thinking for a Change 3.1, Bernie Iszler, former probation officer for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and now Correctional Program Specialist at the NIC’s Training Academy picked up a disk pack and said, “You know, we’re not just mailing out a resource, we’re mailing out hope! We are mailing out hope to those who often have little hope.” These words really captured the essence of Thinking for a Change. This program is an evidence-based cognitive behavioral intervention that facilitates thinking and behavior change. Thinking for a Change 3.1 gives offenders hope and correctional professionals the sense of making a difference, making Thinking for a Change a win-win for both facilitators and participants.

Joel Botner, Re-entry Coordinator for Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation, says, “Staff want to make a difference. The theory is ‘change thinking to change behavior’, but how do staff accomplish that? They need a good practical tool. NIC’s Thinking for Change is that tool for us. The curriculum is well thought out, simple, and easy to grasp and use. It is our vehicle for engaging inmates in change.”

 

Consider NIC’s Thinking For a Change as an Option

NIC’s Thinking for a Change (T4C) model was originally developed by Jack Bush, Barry Glick, and Juliana Taymans in the 1990’s in a project managed by NIC Academy’s Steve Swisher. In 2012 there was a significant revision in T4C in a project managed by NIC Academy’s Michael Guevara that resulted in Thinking for a Change 3.1. NIC’s T4C model consists of three components that target social skills, cognitive self-change, and problem solving skills. This is achieved through trained facilitators delivering a series of 25 lessons, delivered in 30-35 sessions, to offenders in small groups over a series of weeks. T4C can be delivered in an institutional, as well as a community corrections, setting. These lessons include modeling and practicing skills while in class, as well as homework to give people the opportunity to try the skills in the real world and report back successes. NIC recommends keeping group sizes small (12 participants) and using two facilitators delivering two sessions a week with plenty of time to practice and apply the skills between sessions.

Beyond the addition of more lessons and some re-organization, there are additional enhancements in Thinking for a Change 3.1. According to Guevara, “There were four goals in the T4C revision project: clarify, update, make it easier to deliver, and more fully integrate the three components. We have achieved this with the release of T4C 3.1.”

Guevara also makes some best practice recommendations for delivery, “Program fidelity and integrity are critical. It is very important to stick to the curriculum. Always use two trained facilitators. Deliver two sessions a week. Target the right clients: medium to high-risk offenders.  Make sure everyone has the opportunity to try every skill during class. Everyone does the work. Everyone does the intersession homework. Finally, make sure everyone gets feedback throughout the program.” It is also important that T4C 3.1 be completed from beginning to end, due to the integrated nature of the program. Guevara takes pride in the product, “NIC has created an evidence-based program that can be delivered at any level. The overwhelming response from the field is that it fosters positive change. If T4C 3.1 is implemented with integrity and fidelity, offenders can make changes.”

NIC Training for Facilitators

In 2013 NIC began conducting training for T4C facilitators. Previously, facilitators were trained in a 4 day face-to-face classroom event. Today, facilitator preparation begins with an initial 20 hours of distance learning which consists of virtual instructor-led training, intersession homework assignments, viewing videos, available coaching sessions, and preparing to deliver a T4C lesson.  After that, T4C facilitator trainees participate in a 16 hour face-to-face advanced practicum which includes staff modeling delivery and skills, as well as participants delivering T4C lessons and obtaining feedback and coaching. Watch the NIC website for opportunities to participate in T4C 3.1 facilitator training.

NIC Plans for Thinking for a Change 3.1

In the summer of 2015, NIC is excited to premier Thinking for Change Training for Trainers. This will be delivered in a blended approach, consisting of web-based sessions, homework, and coaching sessions, together totaling 60 hours of training. The goal is to collaborate with agencies to use the NIC Learning Management System web platform to perform the Training-for-Facilitators training.

In 2016, NIC plans to host at least two facilitator trainings per year at the National Corrections Academy in Aurora, Colorado, in addition to the individually provided trainings.

Thinking for a Change 3.1 Resources

The T4C 3.1 resource pack is available for order at no charge. While NIC no longer produces paper copies of the curriculum, it is available in an online version. The intended use is with people who are under supervision of correctional entities or the courts.

Other supportive resources:

Something to Think About

 “Running T4C groups was the hardest work I did – it was also the best work I did as a probation officer. We did a research project while I was at Tippecanoe County that showed T4C made a difference. Participation lowered the odds of re-offending, even for those who did not complete the program. Why settle for changing one life if I can change a whole group of them?” said NIC’s Bernie Iszler.

Peggy Bryan, Cognitive Behavioral Services Manager for the Kansas Department of Corrections and veteran T4C facilitator/trainer, always closes her T4C deliveries with this benediction, “I’m not going to wish you good luck, but good choices.”  Her words capture the true spirit of the program.

So now you know NIC’s Thinking for a Change provides individuals with the tools and skills to make a difference in themselves and make good choices. 




Posted Fri, Oct 26 2012 12:21 PM by Anonymous

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This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.