Outcome Alternatives™

An online education program focused on helping people learn alternative thinking and behavior which helps prevent future justice system involvement.

Since 1983

Anger Temper Talk™ - Online anger management classes.
Temper Talk™ is an online anger management class offered as an 8, 10 or 12 hour anger education class. And, we have a Court Acceptance Guarantee! Learn more about anger management class

theft / shoplifting classes "THEFT TALK"™ - Online theft / shoplifting classes.

Theft Talk™ is an online theft / shoplifting classes and is offered for juveniles as a 4 or 8 hour class and four adults as an 8 hour class. And, we have a Court Acceptance Guarantee! Learn More about Theft Talk

theft / shoplifting classes The Alcohol Class  - Online MIP Alcohol Class

The Alcohol Class is an online class for youths who were cited for being a minor in possession of alcohl (MIP). This is not an alcohol treatment program, it is an alcohol education and awareness program. This is a four hour online class.The Alcohol Class

Your class is completely self-paced, sign out and come back later, the computer will take you back to where you ended. That's right, work on it a half hour at a time, more sometimes, less others - you choose.

 

Theory and Philosophy

 

Our theory and philosophy are unique, quite specific and specialized. In brief, the message is that people are individually responsible for their behavior. When people make the choice to steal, they have control over their actions and choices. Often times they make these choices based on misconceptions and/or inadequate information. When the thinking is based on inaccurate information, "thinking errors" occur. When people make choices in this manner they, are likely to make poor choices. Outcome Alternatives™ emphasizes the need for people to learn how to make informed and insightful decisions -- to make good choices.

Outcome Alternatives™ deals with the way the offender thinks. We look at what people are thinking (looking for thinking errors), what they are not thinking (looking for thinking omissions) , and give some suggestions on what they might start thinking about. The offender's thinking just prior to the actual incident has proven to be of great importance.

Outcome Alternatives™ addresses victim issues, accountability and personal responsibility. We stronlgy subscribe to evidence based practices. Our approach is to target the criminogenic risk factor of "Attitudes, values and beliefs". We utilize the most effective evidence based intervention - cognitive restructuring - and maintain the philosopy that if a person changes their thoughts, they will change their behaviors.

We know that of the thousands of clients who have gone through - and successfully completed - this program, 86% do not re-offend within one year. Of equal or greater importance is that 84% do not re-offend after two years. This low attrition rate suggests to us that "if" the client gets it, he really does get it. We are proud of our work and expect you will be pleased with our services.

Discussion

In my first few years as a corrections counselor I developed four primary approaches and one fundamental assumption when attempting to be effective in my work. My partner, Pat, and I were new to our profession and anxious to learn. We asked our seasoned colleagues about practices and best interventions and quickly assimilated into the department's professional culture. Over the years Pat and I began to realize that the common sense, practical approaches to crime that we were using, were ineffective, and that the four primary interventions we were using were based on false assumptions. It was our role to impact our offending clients in such a way as to minimize continued crime. What we learned is that in the business of corrections it is important to know what works and why it works, and, to know what doesn't work and why it doesn't work. About ten years later, after obtaining a Masters degree, I sought sound, research based, scientific principles and best practices that have consistently proven to be effective. One of the fundamental findings was that interventions are most effective when they have affected the clients' thinking - their attitudes, values and beliefs.

A common practice was to schedule weekly check-ins. The meeting went something like this:

Probation Officer: "How's it going?

Client: "Fine."

Probation Officer: "What's new?"

Client: "Nothing."

Probation Officer: "How's school?"

Client: "Fine."

Probation Officer: "Grades okay?"

Client: "Yeah, I guess."

Probation Officer: "You missed any days lately?"

Client: "No."

Probation Officer: "Any contact with the police since we last met?"

Client: "No."

Probation Officer: "Okay then. You're doing well. Keep up the good work and I'll be out of your life in no time. But you remember, if you screw up again it isn't going to be pleasant. I'm a nice guy but you are in control. If you screw up you force me to lock you up."

Weekly check-ins has absolutely no impact on recidivism without a specific conversation about issues such as learning "Cost Benefit Analysis" skills. "Skills" being the key word. . In fact, studies on the effect of probation have consistently shown that probation, unto itself, is no more or less effective than incarceration - regardless of caseload size.

The final tact in my list of ineffective interventions is what I call the education and warning approach. I would attempt to make sure the offender knew the law and the possible consequences for violating it. I would sit a kid, or group of kids, down and explain the legal definition of stealing, what a misdemeanor and felony is, and outline the maximum amount of time they could spend in jail as an adult. Sometimes I would take them for a tour of the County Jail. I felt pretty good about this approach. At least I could say the kids knew the rules and were warned about the possible consequences. I felt I was taking positive steps to forewarn them should they choose a life of crime. If they screwed up I could say to myself, "I warned them." I felt I was at least doing "something". I was doing something, but unfortunately this approach too, did not work. One day I realized, the kids already know stealing is wrong and, they knew they would get in trouble if they were caught. My education and warning approach resulted in me telling kids information they already knew and had no effect on their choice to commit crime.

If, in the 1970's, we would have asked the question, "What causes crime, what causes people to steal?" most likely people would have said poor parenting causes people to turn out criminal. In the 1980's the fad was that people who committed crime were victims of abuse as children. The 1990's were a time when we heard a lot about the break down of the family unit. Over the past twenty years the assumption was that "something" was wrong with the family. Interestingly, if we go back fifty years we would find the popular theory had to do with poverty and unemployment. Seventy-five years ago we assumed the cause had to do with a lack of discipline and, one hundred years ago the focus was on the lack of morals and religious values. The theories abound and span a list which includes the bad seed theory, peer pressure, state of the economy, family values, our diet, the effects of fluorescent lights, bad eye sight, learning disabilities, etc... Today researchers are busy looking for the "crime gene". All of these theories subscribe to what is known as the "causal model" of crime. The causal model is one which has an underlying assumption that there is a "cause", something wrong inside or outside of the person which is the source of their criminal behavior and, if this cause can be identified the person can be cured. The causal model was ostensibly one that was worth pursuing; after all, it served the medical profession quite well. In medicine we can find a germ or bacteria and kill it to make the patient well. In the social sciences this causal model has not proven itself, in spite of 100 years of research. This book does not use the causal model to explain, understand or cure criminal behavior. The causal model simply has not served the social sciences well.

In summary, the four false assumptions are:

1. False Assumption: Punishment works. (Research has consistently demonstrated that punishment is an ineffective tool and, in fact, often produces counter productive results.)

2. False Assumption: If I help solve a central problem in a youth's life he will stop committing crime. (Research and experience has consistently proven this tact to be quite effective at solving the youths "other" problems, but to be logically flawed and ineffective at solving the presenting problem -stealing, crime.)

3. False Assumption: Probation works and weekly check-ins will solve the problem. (The fact is probation, unto itself, is no more or less effective than incarceration - regardless of caseload size.)

4. False Assumption: Crime education and warnings will have a positive effect. (Most crime education programs do little more than inform the youth of information he already knew. I.e., if you get caught, you'll get in trouble.)

The one false fundamental underlying assumption is:

1. The causal, or medical, model leads to the "root" of all crime and if the root can be identified and addressed, the person will stop committing crime. (This causal model has been the underlying assumption throughout the 1900's. In effect this assumption became a 100-year experiment. The experiment demonstrated conclusively that the causal model is not useful in corrections.)

If the causal model, punishment, addressing other problems, weekly check-ins and education is ineffective at changing people's behavior, then what can be done? First, we need to acknowledge that people from good homes and bad homes commit crimes. We need to recognize the poor are not the only ones who commit crimes. We need to accept that, as prevalent as crime is, there must be something "normal" about the willingness to cross the human boundaries we label as "crime". We must understand that in the spectrum of human behavior we will have "takers", "takers and givers" and "givers"

We need to look into the mind and soul of the offender and non-offender in order to understand the similarities and the differences. We need to grasp that inherent in the human condition is the phenomenon of selfishness. Selfish in the sense that people "want". They want experiences, they want states of mind and in American culture, most of all, they want things and to be free of stress. From this perspective even the "giver" is getting something in return for his/her chronic kindness.

Without judgment being passed, a fundamental premise is the notion that humans are selfish . With this perspective it makes sense that people pursue satisfaction of their wants. You only need to look at those around you to prove this basic premise. Though the quantity and types of items are different, you can travel from culture to culture and rediscover this basic truth. Furthermore, a very satisfying additional basic tenant is that, most people are not willing to cause injury to other people, - if, they understand the injury. If this were not true, there would be no boundaries and we would live in a state of chaos and anarchy. We take a very positive and hopeful posture toward the human condition. We assume most crime is the product of an overdose of "self"ishness and an under dose of "others"ness. It takes the position that crimes are selfish and can be corrected by appealing to the offenders thought process and having them experience the dissonance between their thoughts and actions, between their values and their actions . This dissonance creates a discomfort that calls for resolution and a state of homeostasis. When most people are confronted with this conflict between their thinking and their behavior, they choose to do what they believe is "right". Yes, we are aware of the antisocial personality and how there is no value in appealing to their values.

Cognitive interventions that circumvent the four false assumptions outlined above; we abandon the superstitions of the causal model and, instead, rely on the clients internal control system and the above noted assumptions about human nature. This form of intervention is called Dissonance Therapy.

 

DISSONANCE THERAPY

The change paradigm of our society and the vast majority of our clients is to focus energy on changing the offending behavior. The primary intervention promoted by our citizens is to try to be the change agent by punishing the offender for his criminal behavior. Clients, on the other hand, not being masochists, tend to depend on commitment and will power in order to change. Though these approaches have proven ineffective time and time again, they are the intervention of choice for most lay, and many professional people. I am not suggesting accountability be abandoned. I am, however, promoting a new zeitgeist, one that also focuses on changing the offender's way of thinking.

Contemporary labels for this added model would include cognitive restructuring, cognitive behavior modification, correcting thinking errors, Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) or even Reality Therapy. Though all of these are of the same genre, the approach outlined in this book is referred to as Dissonance Therapy. The underlying assumption is that if you can be successful at changing a person's thinking, a change in actions will follow.

Research, and years of psychoanalytic therapy, has consistently shown that insight alone does not result in substantial behavior change. In response to this finding Dissonance Therapy strives to go one step further. The objective of Dissonance Therapy is to create significant cognitive dissonance within the client. The resulting unrest and conflict in a persons attitudes, values and beliefs calls for the pursuit of a resolution. This pursuit of resolution culminates in movement seeking homeostasis between a person's thinking and actions. A movement that could go one-way or the other. This model would suggest that when a person experiences cognitive dissonance, either the thinking will change to match the behavior or the behavior will change to match the thinking. With Dissonance Therapy the internal world of the person, their thinking, is what is important, the external world only has meaningful influence to the extent it can impact the thinking of the individual.

Cognitive dissonance occurred for Holly when she, on one hand believed, "I'm a good person. I'm very responsible and moral." and, on the other hand, realized that several of the "little" items around her home were stolen from her employer. Dissonance Therapy predicts Holly, being faced with both facts simultaneously, will experience healthy cognitive dissonance. This approach would predict that such a self realization would result in her either, 1) correcting her behavior (stop stealing and maybe even return the items), 2) adjusting her behavior to match her thinking (rationalization and/or justification in an attempt to convince herself "It's no big deal. They don't care anyway"), or, 3) the less likely, reframing her self image to - "I'm a thief."

 

APPROACH

 

•  Cognitive Restructuring

We assess and address the client's attitudes, values and beliefs.

•  Victim Awareness

Empathy Development: We help our clients feel the pain of their victim and picture the human being(s) they affected.

•  Dissonance Therapy

Change occurs when our clients experience and scrutinize the inconsistencies between their thinking and their behavior, and the conflict between their feelings and their soul.

•  Thinking Errors

Clients will benefit when they learn of the errors and omissions in their belief and values systems.

•  Skill Building

A key to success is for each client to learn new decision making skills and to assume personal responsibility for their actions and choices.

•  Education

Each component of a program should begin with an educational piece.

•  "Process" Counseling

Clients should be allowed to think through issues and come to their own conclusions. To be effective, a counselor must remove the power from the relationship.

 

THEORETICAL BASE

 

•  Choice Theory

The underlying assumption that people are in control of their actions.

•  Empathy Development

Realizing empathy is crucial to the socialization process.

•  Learning Theory

People learn through a series of rewards and consequences, internally or externally imposed.

•  Cognitive Behavior Modification

If a person experiences enough emotional discomfort over their decisions they will naturally make different choices.

•  Moral Development

Most people are unwilling to cause injury to other people, if, they understand the injury.

 

UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS

 

•  Mankind is inherently selfish.

•  Humans, on the whole, are programmed not to do injury to one another.

•  Humans, on the whole, inherently develop a sense of "right" and "wrong". This preprogramming, for the purposes of this book, will be referred to as the soul.

•  The feelings associated with the desire to have often results in a conflict with the soul.

•  A life predominantly driven by feelings is one that has succumbed to its inherent selfishness.

•  A life ruled by its inherent programming, the soul, is one with fewer self-imposed troubles.

•  A life that struggles between feelings and the soul is one that is experiencing the classic human condition.

•  Learning to distinguish between the soul, (trusting your gut, listening to the little voice within you, letting your heart rule, etc) and feelings, our selfish nature, (the desire to have, greed, immediate self gratification, etc.) is a process, which can improve the quality of life.

 

 

 

Our Philosophy

 

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

~Norman Vincent Peale
(1898 - 1993)