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Aggression Replacement Training (ART): an Australian youth justice evaluation

By Matthew R. Currie


Aggression Replacement Training (ART) is a multimodal, cognitive-behavioural intervention for aggressive youth. The results of several outcome studies from the US, UK and Europe indicate that ART is effective in reducing aggressive behaviours and thoughts and recidivism among offenders. This study evaluated the effectiveness of ART for aggressive juvenile offenders (aged 17 to 20 years) at an Australian youth justice custody centre. The results of an initial pilot study (N= 5) indicated overall support for the clinical utility of ART. Thus, with some methodological and programmatic amendments a larger (N= 20) study was undertaken. A repeated measures design was used with pre-treatment, post-treatment, 6-month, and 24-month follow-up assessments. Results showed significant reductions in self-reported aggressive behaviours and thoughts, cognitive distortions, and impulsivity and some improvement in social problem solving skills. The effect sizes were moderate to large and the treatment effects were maintained at two year follow-up. Contrary to expectations, custody worker ratings of participant’s aggressive/antisocial behaviours did not show significant reduction at the six month follow-up. Additionally, these ratings were not clinically significant at any time point. This measure had not previously been used in a correctional setting, however, the workers may have been unreliable respondents due to their lack of knowledge of the ART participants. Despite efforts, a waitlist comparison group could not be obtained. Results from this study provide support, in terms of youth self-report measures, for the application of ART with moderate to high risk aggressive offenders in an Australian youth justice custodial setting. Further investigation with a control comparison and a reliable non-self-report informant is required to confirm the findings. The results also support the cultural and age-related applicability of the learning procedures inherent in ART for this group of moderate to high risk young offenders

Topics: Aggression Replacement Training, Cognitive behavioural therapy, Evaluation, Treatment, Violent offenders, Youth justice
Year: 2010
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