Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT®): A program overview



Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT®): A program overview
Moral Reconation Therapy™ (MRT):
A program overview
Presented by Natalie Seibel, LPC, CADC I
Clinical Supervisor, Lifeworks NW
• This is not an official MRT training
• Only specialized trained individuals can
provide MRT training
• An individual is required to attend a weeklong training and receive certificate in order to
facilitate a group, or even sit in on a group
• I tend to talk fast when I get excited. MRT
excites me!
• 1979-1983: Developed and tested by Gregory L. Little,
Ed.D., at the Federal Correctional Institute in Memphis, TN
• 1985: Moved to a community prison setting where
Kenneth D. Robinson, Ed.D., joined him to finalize the
written materials for the program
• 1987: Correctional Counseling, Inc. (CCI) is founded by
Robinson; provides MRT training and materials to
practitioners wanting to implement the program
• Early 1990’s: Start of implementation in drug courts
• Currently: Nearly 100 drug courts employ MRT as primary
treatment program provided by contracted professionals or
court staff
MRT Facts
• Over 1 million individuals have participated
• Over 20,000 professionals have been trained
• Data from over 100,000 individuals have been
compiled and published in over 180 outcome
• It is used in 49 states and in seven countries
• Spanish versions of most workbooks are
Becoming an Evidenced-Based Practice
• 2008 – MRT is granted Evidence-Based Practice
status by Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA)
• 2008 – citied as an Evidenced-Based Practice by
Oregon Department of Human Services
• 2009 – placed on National Registry of EvidencedBased Programs and Practices (NREPP)
Foundation of the program
Six Stages of Moral Development/Reasoning
• Developed by Lawrence Kohlberg (began 1958)
• Believed the process of moral development was
mainly concerned with justice
• Stages are about how people justify behaviors
• The higher the level, the more responsible,
consistent, and predictable the behavior
• Stages cannot be skipped, as each provides a new
and necessary perspective
• Continues through an individual’s lifetime
Six Stages
Punishment and obedience (Egocentric; how can I avoid
Instrumental-relativist (What's in it for me? “You scratch my back,
I’ll scratch yours”)
Interpersonal concordance (Relationships; social norms; good boy/
nice girl)
Law and order (Community; maintaining social order, fixed rules,
and authority for its own sake)
Social contract, legalistic (Utilitarian; individual rights agreed upon
by the whole; emphasis on possibility of change, not fixed as in
Stage 4)
Universal ethical principle (The Golden Rule; justice, reciprocity,
and equality of human rights; respect for the dignity of human
beings as individual persons; acceptable to violate laws when they
violate moral principles or rights)
• Most people base decisions on Stages 3 + 4
• Offenders base decisions on Stage 2
• Individual’s interaction with the environment
determines development of moral reasoning
• Influenced by affective factors of the ability to
empathize and have the capacity for guilt
• Rare for anyone to reach Stage 6
MRT Terminology
• The psychological term “conation” refers to the process
of how we direct our behavior and make decisions
• Little and Robinson chose the term “moral reconation”
to connect with the goal of changing conscious
decision-making to higher levels of moral reasoning
• Inner self – essential essence of a person, positive
potential (What you are)
• Personality – brain’s way of organizing what we
experience; beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, habits (How
we are)
• The program provides a systematic method designed
to promote positive self-image and identity, help
clients learn positive social behaviors and beliefs, and
begin to make their decisions from higher levels of
moral judgment
• The purpose of the program is to raise level of moral
decision making and find harmony between inner self
and personality
• Consists of 16 steps organized in a Freedom Ladder
• To successfully complete the program, an individual
has to pass Steps 1-12
• Steps 13-16 are used for aftercare
Seven Key Areas of Focus
Confrontation and Assessment of Self
*Assess beliefs, attitudes, behavior, and defense mechanisms
*Occurs in Steps 1-4
Assessment of Current Relationships
*Includes planning to heal damaged relationships, incorporate
*Occurs in Steps 5+6
Reinforcement of Positive Behaviors and Habits
*Helping others raise awareness of moral behavior; peeling
back layers of personality
Positive Identity Formation
*Exploration of inner self and goal setting
*Occurs in Steps 7+8 (9)
5. Enhancement of Self Concept
*Ego-enhancing exercises and habits change
what clients think of themselves
*Occurs in Step 10
6. Decrease Hedonism
*Teaches clients to develop delay of
gratification and control
*Occurs in Step 11
7. Develop Higher Stages of Moral Reasoning
*Greater concern of others and social systems
*Occurs in Steps 12-16
References and Resources
Kolhberg, L., Hersh, R., H. (1977). Moral Development: A
Review of the Theory. Retrieved January 23, 2015, from
Little, G.L., & Robinson, K.D. (2006). How to Escape Your
Prison: A Moral Reconation Therapy Workbook. Memphis,
TN: Eagle Wing Books, Inc.

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