Cognitive Skills Training (CST) is a behavioral program for people who are on parole. The program is mainly focused on male parolees whose aim is to build psychological skills in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, self-control, and abstract reasoning. The program is tailored in a way that helps the offenders improve their decision-making; solve issues, or how they react to new situations (Justice Centre 1). Additionally, the program seeks to address and improve certain cognitive deficits that are usually experienced by offenders, including lack of goal-setting, inadequate interpersonal skills, and impulsive decision-making. This curriculum was tailored from the Reasoning and Rehabilitation Program.
The program usually targets male parolees whose IQ scores range below 80. The program is also said to work well with individuals who have had a history of severe drug and substance abuse and they may have been involved in sexual offenses.
The Cognitive Skills Training program is a 35-hour course. Each lesson requires a minimum of two hours where an individual is trained on several key components. The main elements that the trainers focus on are emotion management, negotiation skills, problem-solving, moral enhancement, creative thinking, social skills, and critical reasoning. In each component training, the parolees focus on particular skills (NIJ 1). For instance, during the training of problem-solving component, the participants focus on practices that target specific skills; for instance, information gathering, assertive communication, conceptualizing dilemmas, and alternative thinking. The participants are required to participate in activities such as group discussions, homework assignments, games, and role participation. The program has proven that most people acquire new skills that are usually presented along with prospects to practice skills that have been introduced initially.
According to Justice Center, the program usually has an instructor and a group of individuals who assist the offenders in practicing the skills they have acquired from the training (1). The offenders are usually chosen selectively to ensure that the training is offered to people who are likely to benefit from it.
The program is expected to be successful in achieving the intended purpose since it has been tailored to assist the offenders to improve their decision-making skills, think critically, and most importantly learn to deal with new situations. Additionally, there has been substantial evidence that the CST has beneficial outcomes for most of the people it was administered to.
Research findings have shown that people who have undergone the Cognitive Skills Training have positive outcomes. The effects of the program have reduced offender’s chances of getting involved in crime again (Justice Center 1). The program has proven to be effective for low-risk offenders. Research has shown that most of them have led a better life after the training. There have been suggestions to use this program in correctional institutions since it has proven effective amongst the offenders who have shown positive behaviors after undergoing the training.
As it is evident from the discussion, the Cognitive Skills Training is a program offered to offenders who have committed low profile crimes. Its main intention is to assist offenders to improve their life skills, especially while making certain decisions. Additionally, the program trains the offenders the way to react when faced with new situations and how to solve unique situations. The program has been said to have positive results for those individuals that have undergone through it. Therefore, it is very important for correctional institutions and community-based centers to apply this program to offenders since it has shown positive results, including a reduction in recidivism.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Cognitive Skills Training. 25 September 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.crimesolutions.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?ID=568
Justice Centre. What Works. 2017. Retrieved from: https://whatworks.csgjusticecenter.org/program/cognitive-skills-trainingreasoning-and-rehabilitation