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Individualizing Responses to Motivate Behavior Change in Youth: A Four-Pronged Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
This Guidebook presents recommendations on processes and procedures that will enable juvenile drug treatment court (JDTC) teams to deliver objective, consistent, and effective responses to youth behavior in the context of JDTC procedures.
The Guidebook recommends a four-pronged approach for implementing a comprehensive and practical system of responses to youth with substance abuse disorders. JDTC teams can implement any one or all of the prongs to improve behavior-modification strategies that consist of incentives and sanctions. One of the proposed prongs is the creation of a strength-based atmosphere. This involves a focus on the existing strengths of each youth and his/her family. A more strength-based atmosphere in JDTC team interactions with and management of youth should facilitate the youth being more cooperative, open, and willing to participate in treatment services. The second prong is to “increase compliance with a micro-economy.” This involves the use of a system of positive reinforcements that motivate youth to engage in positive behaviors. A micro-economy can be created by using a point-based reward system that provides points for positive behaviors. These points can then be traded for tangible rewards or incentives. The third prong is to “support goal achievement with short-term contracts.” This prong involves the use of short-term contracts that individualize specific incentives and sanctions that will bolster goal achievement relevant to the needs of each youth. The fourth prong is to “respond to and reframe drug testing.” The JDTC team should focus on how to respond immediately to missing a drug test or tampering with a drug test. The team‘s response should be tailored to the particular needs of the youth involved rather having a standard punitive response for all youth. 17 references
Date Created: September 4, 2019