What is Moral Reconation Therapy?

Moral Reconation Therapy – or simply MRT – is a systematic treatment strategy that seeks to decrease recidivism (criminal propensity) among juvenile and adult criminal offenders by increasing moral reasoning. Its cognitive-behavioral approach combines elements from a variety of psychological traditions to progressively address ego, social, moral, and positive behavioral growth.

The term “moral” refers to a moral reasoning based on levels of cognitive reasoning. The word “reconation” comes from the psychological terms “conative” and “conation,” both of which refer to the process of making conscious decisions.

The History of Moral Reconation Therapy

MRT was initially developed in the 1980’s as the cognitive-behavioral component in a prison-based therapeutic community. Because of its remarkable success, the program was then tested and widely implemented in general inmate populations, with juvenile offenders, in parole and probation settings, community corrections, hospitals, outpatient programs, education settings, and in drug courts.

The program itself leads to increased participation and completion rates, decreased disciplinary infractions, beneficial changes in personality characteristics and significantly lower recidivism rates.

By 1985, MRT was the premier program for substance abuse and addiction treatment, as well as a “rehab” for criminal justice offenders. The counseling program combines education, group, and individual counseling in addition to structured exercises designed to foster moral development in treatment-resistant individuals.

Using MRT for Addiction Treatment

Using MRT for addiction treatment, means assisting individuals in confronting the consequences of their behavior and the effect that it has on their family, friends, and community. Poor moral reasoning is common within at-risk populations.

The MRT treatment program is designed to alter how individuals think and make judgments about what is right and wrong. It approaches the problem of treating resistant populations as a problem of low-levels of moral reasoning.

When using MRT for addiction treatment, the program seeks to move individuals from hedonistic (pleasure vs. pain) reasoning levels, to levels where concern for social rules and others become important. It has shown that as individuals complete the steps, moral reasoning increases.

The seven basic steps of MRT treatment are:

  • confrontation of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors
  • assessment of current relationships
  • reinforcement of positive behavioral habits
  • positive identity formation
  • enhancement of self-concept
  • decrease in hedonism and development of frustration tolerance
  • development of higher stages of moral reasoning

Using MRT for Addiction Treatment

MRT for addiction treatment is successful because it enhances self-image, promotes growth of a positive, productive identity and facilitates the development of higher stages of moral reasoning.

It’s a program that has been extensively researched and proves effective in populations with a high rate of antisocial behaviors. MRT treatment seeks to re-educate individuals socially, morally, and behaviorally to instill appropriate goals, motivation, and values.

MRT treatment programs are used in 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 7 countries and it’s recommended for the following populations:

  • 18-25 (Young adult)
  • 26-55 (Adult)
  • Male and Female
  • Black or African American; White; Non-U.S. population
  • Correctional

In general terms, the benefits of an MRT treatment can be outlined as follows:

  • Easy to implement
  • Designed and developed to target issues specific to an offender population.
  • Designed to address issues of a treatment resistant population.
  • Has shown to reduce the recidivism rate of offenders by between 30% and 50% for periods up to 20 years after release.
  • The program has been used effectively in different programs at many sites.
  • Improves offender compliance to rules in an institution or while under supervision in the community.
  • Is delivered in open-ended groups, which allows for maximizing resources.
  • Easily meshes and blends with other types of programming including self-help groups, education, counseling and behaviorally oriented programs.
  • Will increase offenders’ moral reasoning, decrease dropout rates, increase sense of purpose and reduce antisocial thinking and behavior.
  • When implemented in a variety of criminal justice settings, MRT provides a continuum of care.
  • The cost of implementing MRT is highly competitive.

It’s important to recognize that using MRT for addiction treatment actually helps because it systematically supports the reduction of substance use and/or abuse.

Studies have shown that this program significantly increases the participant’s odds of success. MRT is an open-ended program allowing clients to enter the program at any point in their supervision.

Moral reconation therapy research shows that participation and program completion by minority groups can significantly lower long-term recidivism rates – for more than 20 years after treatment.

No other cognitive-behavioral treatment for offenders or substance abusers has shown such results. We place enormous merit on this, as well as all of our other alternative treatment programs because they work.

If you or your loved one is suffering from addiction, and/or from any other underlying psychological disorders, please call us. Moral reconation therapy may be just what you need!

We know what we are doing and we will help you every step of the way with the love, care, and sense of understanding that we know you need.