Thinking for a Change

Philosophical Foundation
Thinking for A Change is a cognitive-behavioral program, governed by a simple, straightforward principle-thinking (internal behavior) controls actions (external behavior).

graduation from thinking for a change will change their lifeTherefore, it is necessary to target offenders’ thinking in order to change their actions that lead to criminal conduct. Thinking for A Change is appropriate for a wide range of offenders. Some offenders engage in criminal conduct because they are under-socialized, lacking a repertoire of pro-socially acceptable responses to their daily lives. This often takes the form of aggressive acts but can also be manifested in withdrawn behaviors, or other anti-social behaviors such as those associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

Other offenders engage in planned and deliberate criminal acts supported by strong antisocial attitudes and beliefs. Their way of thinking supports and justifies the serious offenses they commit. Behavior change cannot take place for these individuals until they become aware of their thinking and see a reason to change.

Cognitive Behavior theories whether they be Cognitive Restructuring (e.g., Ellis, Meichenbaum) or Social Learning (Bandura) view individuals’ maladaptive behaviors as learned. For many offenders these learned antisocial thoughts and actions become the central means by which they cope with life. Strong internal reinforces such as feelings of excitement, pleasure and power offering immediate gratification maintain these behaviors.

Thinking for A change uses a combination of approaches to increase offenders’ awareness of self and others. This deepened attentiveness to attitudes, beliefs and thinking patterns is combined with explicit teaching of interpersonal skills relevant to offenders’ present and future needs.

The goal is to provide contextual instruction and related experiences so that offenders are confident and motivated to use prosocial skills when faced with interpersonal problems and/or anti-social or stressful problems. The philosophy of the program endorses that offenders should be empowered to be responsible for changing their own problem behavior. The intervention program provides the offender the tools to take pro-social action and change their offending ways.

While the format for Thinking for a Change is different and improved, the theoretical and philosophical foundation of the program as originally developed, designed, and implemented has not changed. Each component is still presented in a systematic, logical fashion using the standard procedures for cognitive behavioral interventions. The three components of Thinking for a Change are: Cognitive Self Change, Social, and Problem Solving Skills. Cognitive Self Change teaches a concrete process for self-refection aimed at uncovering antisocial thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs.

successful thinking for a change training courseSocial Skills instruction prepares group members to engage in pro-social interactions based on self-understanding and consideration of the impact of their actions on others. Problem Solving Skills integrates the two interventions to provide an explicit step-by-step process to address challenging and stressful real life situations.

Articles on the evidence based effectiveness of Thinking for a Change (T4C):

Preventing Future Crime With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Evidence-Based Practices
Reducing recidivism – an exploration of one county’s effort
Tippecanoe County Probation Department

Successful t4c training helps reunite familiesThe flow of the lessons in both Social Skills and Cognitive Self Change provide the foundation upon which Problem Solving Skills successfully mediate stressful situations.

Problems Solving is now defined as a set of six skills and is delivered in nine lessons.  Lesson 20 provides group members opportunities to practice the first three skills of Problem Solving. Lesson 24 provides group members a summary and practice opportunity to demonstrate all six skills of Problem Solving.

Shortcuts Become a T4C Certified Facilitator Find training opportunities & discuss T4C in the online discussion forum Thinking for a Change: Frequently Asked Questions Contact Steve Swisher, Correctional Program Specialist


Thinking for a Change 4.0 (T4C) is an integrated cognitive behavioral change program under a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). T4C incorporates research from cognitive restructuring theory, social skills development, and the learning and use of problem solving skills.

T4C is comprised of 25 lessons that build upon each other, and contains appendices that can be used to craft an aftercare program to meet ongoing cognitive behavioral needs of your group. The program is designed to be provided to justice-involved adults and youth, males and females.

T4C is provided by corrections professionals in prisons, jails, detention centers, community corrections, probation, and parole settings. The National Institute of Corrections trains T4C group facilitators who can train additional staff to facilitate the program with justice-involved clients.

T4C 4.0 represents a significant evolution in the curriculum, both in content and use. It is the most sincere hope of NIC and the authors that the changes enable you and your agency to better serve your clients. Correctional agencies can consider Thinking for a Change as one option in a continuum of interventions to address the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of their client populations.

Thinking for a Change (T4C) is an integrated, cognitive behavioral change program for offenders that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills. Whether used by schools to teach students’ critical life skills, or by correctional and probation agencies to reduce juvenile or adult offender recidivism, the evidence based Thinking for a Change Program develops participants’ social and problem solving skills through demonstrations and role-play activities and it teaches participants how to create change in their thinking and behavior in order to make better decisions in their daily lives.

Cognitive self-change teaches individuals a concrete process for self-awareness aimed at uncovering risky thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. It is taught by using the simple principle that our thinking controls our behavior and to change our behavior, we must change our thinking.

Social skills instruction prepares participants to engage in pro-social interactions based on self-awareness and consideration of the impact their actions will have on others. Participants learn how to: actively listen, ask questions, appropriately respond to other’s anger, give feedback to others, effectively communicate apologies, negotiate, effectively communicate a complaint, understand the feelings of others, and recognize one’s own feelings.

Problem solving skills combines both the cognitive self-change and social skill components together to provide participants with a specific step by step process for addressing challenging and stressful real life situations and conflict.

Background of T4C

The Thinking for a Change program was developed by Barry Glick, PhD, Jack Bush, PhD, and Juliana Taymans,Phd, in cooperation with the National Institute of Corrections.


Thinking for a Change (T4C) program is made up of activities and concepts that group members learn to apply to their daily life situations. This curriculum has 25 lesson plans with the option of AFTERCARE lessons. AFTERCARE groups would be defined by a group time when participants could meet and practice/apply the tools and skills learned to their real life problems/situations.


Victoria Wayner is a NIC certified T4C Trainer. Victoria Wayner and Team are qualified to deliver the 32 hour facilitator training and upon completion the participants will have the knowledge and skills necessary to implement and facilitate the T4C curriculum in their organizations.


thinking for a change - T4C training