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Moral Reconation Therapy

Unlock transformation through structured group exercises with Moral Reconation Therapy, a method for reducing recidivism.

By Karina Jimenea on Jun 16, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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Moral Reconation Therapy

What is Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)?

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment crafted to lower recidivism rates within offender communities. Originating in 1986 through the collaborative efforts of Dr. Gregory Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson, MRT integrates principles from Kohlberg's cognitive reasoning stages.

MRT combines moral reasoning and conscious decision-making strategies to foster positive behavioral changes. It equips individuals with the tools to handle complex ethical dilemmas and make constructive choices by honing moral reasoning, refining decision-making skills, and shaping behavioral responses.

This therapeutic program has been used in various countries, serving as a critical intervention in facilitating rehabilitation and reducing the likelihood of re-offending. As of 2021, MRT is employed globally, evidenced by over 200 studies demonstrating its efficacy in reducing recidivism, substance use, disciplinary infractions, and various positive outcomes.

In this regard, it was acknowledged by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other local governmental bodies (Moral Reconation Therapy, 2021).

What are the goals of Moral Reconation Therapy?

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) aims to address cognitive and moral deficits that contribute to criminal behavior and substance abuse. This is to establish positive change among individuals within the criminal justice system and other relevant populations. Among many other treatment areas, here are the goals of MRT:

Promoting pro-social behavior

The therapy seeks to instill values of responsibility, accountability, and empathy, encouraging individuals to develop healthier relationships and contribute positively to society. By addressing underlying cognitive distortions and moral reasoning, participants can recognize the impact of their actions on others and make informed decisions.

Reducing recidivism

One of the primary goals of MRT is to decrease the likelihood of re-offending by targeting the root causes of criminal behavior. Through structured interventions and cognitive-behavioral techniques, MRT helps individuals identify triggers for criminal behavior, develop coping strategies, and adopt alternative responses to stressful situations.

Addressing substance abuse

MRT interventions target substance abuse issues by exploring the moral implications of addiction and facilitating cognitive restructuring to support recovery. Participants learn to recognize the harmful effects of alcohol abuse on themselves and others, develop strategies to resist cravings, and build a support network for sobriety.

Healing trauma

MRT acknowledges the role of past trauma in shaping behavior and provides a framework for processing and healing emotional wounds. By addressing unresolved trauma, individuals can reduce maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or violence, and develop healthier ways of dealing with distress.

Enhancing interpersonal skills

MRT focuses on improving communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills to enable healthier relationships. Participants learn to express emotions constructively, assert boundaries, and negotiate conflicts without resorting to violence or aggression. This is particularly beneficial for individuals involved in domestic violence situations.

How does MRT work?

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) employs certified facilitators who conduct weekly group sessions and integrate workbook assignments as homework, utilizing objective criteria to track participant progress and ensure adherence to the program's steps. Participants typically engage in weekly or biweekly 12-32 meetings, with groups maintaining an open-ended structure to accommodate entry at any time.

The multifaceted nature of MRT necessitates specific guidelines and procedural steps to address various treatment areas effectively. Beyond correctional settings, MRT principles are applied in diverse contexts such as life coaching and counseling, reflecting its efficacy in fostering cognitive and behavioral changes. By targeting cognitive distortions and maladaptive behaviors, MRT aims to enhance self-esteem and moral reasoning, facilitating lasting positive transformations in individuals' lives.

Who can benefit from Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)?

Moral Reconation Therapy is a versatile therapeutic approach broadly applicable across various contexts. It has demonstrated efficacy in diverse settings, including but not limited to the following:

  1. General inmate populations: MRT offers inmates a structured framework to examine and improve their moral reasoning, leading to reduced recidivism rates and smoother reintegration into society upon release.
  2. Juvenile offenders: MRT provides them with the tools to assess their decision-making processes and develop pro-social behaviors, ultimately steering them away from further delinquency.
  3. Parole and probation settings: By addressing underlying cognitive patterns and moral reasoning, MRT assists individuals under parole or probation supervision in adhering to conditions and reducing the likelihood of re-offending.
  4. Community corrections: MRT equips individuals under community supervision with skills to navigate ethical dilemmas, fostering positive behavior change and community reintegration.
  5. Hospital and outpatient programs: In these settings, MRT aids individuals in understanding the moral implications of their actions and guides them toward making healthier choices, contributing to overall well-being.
  6. Educational settings: MRT fosters critical thinking and ethical decision-making among students, promoting a positive learning environment and reducing disciplinary issues.
  7. Drug courts: MRT addresses the moral reasoning behind substance abuse. With this, participants are guided in breaking the cycle of addiction and adopting healthier lifestyles.

Research and evidence

As mentioned earlier, over 200 studies have looked at the impact and effectiveness of MRT in various treatment areas. These studies include systematic reviews and the effect on emotional intelligence, depression, and moral reasoning.

One study examined nine published studies, involving a total of 2,460 MRT-treated individuals and 7,679 control group members. This literature review revealed a statistically significant decrease in recidivism rates. Out of the nine, only one study had any affiliation with the developers of MRT and the findings align with a previous meta-analysis on MRT recidivism outcomes among incarcerated felons (Wright et al., 2018).

In another study, participants in MRT incorporated higher-level moral and pro-social moral abilities (Townsend, 2017). Moreover, it was found that MRT improved emotional intelligence (EI) depression and reduced substance use after the intervention (McBain, 2022).

Why use Carepatron as your therapy software?

Unlocking positive behavioral transformations in clients, the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) process focuses on reevaluating and reshaping their moral reasoning and decision-making patterns. As an MRT facilitator, augmenting your therapy toolkit with our specialized therapy software can enhance the efficacy of your sessions.

Carepatron offers a range of features tailored to support your MRT practice, including the convenience of Telehealth. This enables you to schedule seamlessly and conduct sessions with MRT groups from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, our platform allows clients to submit homework assignments through a secure patient portal, facilitating easy tracking of progress and behavioral changes. Our user-friendly clinical documentation system simplifies creating and maintaining patient records.

Empower your participants on their journey toward program completion with the comprehensive support of Carepatron.

Experience the difference today and ensure the success of your MRT endeavors. Start your Carepatron journey now!

Therapy Software


McBain, K. L. (2022). Investigating Emotional Intelligence among a sample of clients enrolled in Moral Reconation Therapy for substance use treatment.

Moral Reconation Therapy. (n.d.). About.

Moral Reconation Therapy. (2021, February 10). Overview of Moral Reconation Therapy—MRT® training and workbook materials.

Townsend, L. R. (2017). Moral Reconation Therapy and its effect on moral reasoning.

Wright, E., Spohn, R., Chenane, J., Associate, R., & Toto, S. (2018). Evaluation of the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) Program at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Commonly asked questions

Where can I get MRT materials?

Owned by Eagle Wing Books, Inc., MRT materials are distributed by Correctional Counseling, Inc., highlighting its structured approach to promoting moral development and reducing recidivism.

How long does it take to complete MRT?

MRT typically involves weekly group sessions, but the program spans 12-32 meetings.

How long is an MRT facilitator training?

MRT facilitator training lasts approximately 32 hours, during which professionals undergo instruction to become certified facilitators capable of effectively leading MRT groups.

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