A Catalyst for System Change

Building on her presentation at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Professor Lynette Lee from the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento recently wrote a paper on Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Practices and Transformative Life Skills.

Discussing the features of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a frequently adopted evidence-based practice in correctional programming, she states specific limitations:

  • Brain-imaging studies reveal that emotional centers of the brain are clearly engaged even during the most 'rational' types of human decision-making. Therefore, it's now the view of many within the treatment community that CBT needs to be supplemented with methods that enhance an individual's capacity for emotional regulation.
  • In order to effectively edit or redirect less functional thinking, the dysfunctional thoughts need to be observed or noticed in "real time" – as they are happening.  And since the most significant factor that determines our ability to observe our thoughts is the capacity to intentionally direct the focus of our attention, many now suggest that the control of attentionis another essential skill that needs to be developed.
  • It is well known that the vast majority of the youth and adults that come under the control of the criminal justice system have experienced high levels of stress and trauma in their lives.  Given current research that clarifies processes by which stress and trauma negatively impact various physiological systems within the body, many now believe that some type of somatic, or body-centric, movement practicesare necessary to heal the damage caused by the trauma, and restore the body's natural balance.

Noting that the Niroga Transformative Life Skills curriculum systematically develops all three vital capabilities noted above, she concludes her paper by saying, "Cognitive behavioral therapies, supplemented with programming such as Niroga Institute's Transformative Life Skills, can help reshape correctional settings from serving as a revolving door, to becoming a world-class escalator – an escalator which moves steadily upward, allowing each of us to progressively access ever-greater levels of our inherent human potential."