Change Thoughts, Change Behavior

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Mississippi now emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment in many cases. Treatment aimed at changing behavior is available through private counseling or the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a tried and true method of overcoming negative thoughts and improving behavior. More recently, Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been implemented in Mississippi’s corrections system to reduce recidivism or relapse. By changing our thoughts, we can change the meaning we attach to thoughts and feelings, and the resulting behaviors.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a proven treatment for problems affecting your psychological and emotional well being. CBT has successfully been used to treat

Cognitive pertains to your thought process. Behavior refers to your actions. Therapy describes a systematic approach addressing a problem. CBT makes a link between your thoughts and feelings, and emphasizes the meaning you attach to events.

CBT links your triggers, beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, and their consequences to your emotions and behaviors. CBT teaches that thoughts are not the problem; instead the problem is the meaning we attach to our thoughts and the resulting behavior.

CBT is a widely used evidence based psycho social intervention. CBT focuses on improving emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to understand dysfunction using a systematic goal oriented procedure. Changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors changes outcomes and lives.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mississippi Department of Corrections adopts CBT

For more than a generation, youthful offenders have been sentenced to Mississippi’s Regimented Inmate Discipline (RID) program. RID was also known as “Shock Probation” or boot camp. The goal of RID was to reduce recidivism (repeat offenders) with military style discipline. RID may have been well intentioned, but it was also ineffective. A thorough review of RID revealed that RID participants had a higher recidivism rate that Mississippi’s general adult prison population. The Mississippi legislature responded by abolishing RID. The legislature now requires the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) to offer evidence based programs to benefit inmates and reduce recidivism.

Recidivism Reduction Program

MDOC has implemented the Recidivism Reduction Program (RRP) which is a comprehensive cognitive behavior change program. Unlike RID, RRP is not paramilitary. RRP consist of five components: cognitive behavior therapy, alcohol and drug education, adult basic education, vocational education, and pre-employment training. Thinking for a Change is the core curriculum. Thinking for a Change is a cognitive behavior program developed by the National Institute of Corrections. RRP is available as a condition of probation or a violation.

Thinking for a Change consists of five components taught in 25 lessons. Social skills include active listening, asking questions, giving feedback, and knowing your feelings. Cognitive self-change introduces the concepts of thought controls behavior, so pay attention to thoughts, recognize the risk, use new thinking, and check your thinking. Maturing social skills continues with understanding the feelings of others, how to disagree, apologizing, responding to anger, and negotiating. The problem solving module includes stop and think about the problem, state the problem, goal setting, problem solving, choices and consequences, planning, action and evaluation.

RRP is available to adjudicated and non-adjudicated persons with a few exceptions. For example, those with psychiatric disorders, intellectual disability, significant health problems, or sex offenses are excluded.

The RRP for persons in custody lasts six months. RRP for men is taught at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County. RRP for women is taught at the Flowood Community Work Center. There are pilot community based RRP programs in Forrest, Harrison, and Lee counties. Community based RRP is an alternative to incarceration. It lasts 13 weeks and consists of Thinking for a Change. Upon completion of RRP, MDOC will notify the sentencing judge with a request for the next course of action.

Get Rid of Stinking Thinking

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

Mark Twain

Stinking thinking (Stinkin Thinkin) results from our thoughts being twisted by negative emotions. Everyone has internal conversations and this is perfectly normal. When our thoughts have little or no basis in reality, thinking becomes irrational. Unhealthy attitudes distort our reality. These cognitive distortions are founded on a false belief system.

Example of false beliefs can include:

  • All or nothing thinking. You see things in black and white. For example, if your situation is less than perfect, you see total failure. Perfectionism does not make you feel perfect. It makes you feel inadequate.
  • Over generalization. You see a single negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat, frequently using works such as always or never. For example, a single negative event becomes magnified into “I always have bad results.”
  • Mental Filter. You focus on a single negative detail so your whole perception of reality becomes negative. For example, you fear flying so you percieve impending doom about flight. You obsess about this to the extent that when you board an airplane, you expect it to crash.
  • Discounting the positive. You ignore positive outcomes in your life and focus on your failures.
  • Magnification. You overstate or magnify your problems so much you don’t see the good in your life.
  • Emotional reasoning. You automatically assume your negative emotions reflect reality. For example, you fear germs so you believe your would is unclean and unsafe.
  • Should statements. This includes must, ought to, and have to. Should statements can be directed toward self or others. For example, “I should go outside and mow the lawn.” This approach is generally ineffective and leads to rebellious behavior and justification for doing the opposite.
  • Labeling. This is an extreme all or nothing approach. For example, I made an error therefore I am a failure.
  • Personalization and blame. This is when you hold yourself responsible for events not totally under your control. For example, “If I were a better parent, my child would not fail math.”
  • When thoughts are led by negative emotions, stinking thinking results. Stinking thinking can lead to sadness, worry, and a sense of hopelessness. Here are some ideas to deal with stinking thinking:
  • Remember that most life experiences are not all good or bad, but contain elements of both. Discontinue “all or nothing” thinking.
  • Emotions are not facts. The next time your emotions try to control your thoughts, do a reality (fact) check. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Stop seeking perfection and you will end the misery perfectionism inevitably brings.
  • Life is the canvas and you get to paint it. What you make of life is up to you. Lessons repeat until learned. You know you have learned a lesson when your actions change. Only action turns knowledge into wisdom. The largest influence in life is the thought process which guides everyday decisions. The key is to be alert. When you recognize a pattern, you can change it by learning the lesson and, in doing so, change your life. External problems reflect your mental state. When you clear mental obstructions, your outside would changes.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a proven method for dealing with stinking thinking and improving behavior.

Contact the Law Office of Rufus Alldredge

The law office of Rufus Alldredge provides personalized guidance through the criminal justice system. We represent people in Mississippi state and federal courts. Call 228.863.0123 for an appointment. We are located at 1921 22nd Ave in Gulfport, Mississippi.