Correctional Cognitive Behaviouralism: An Historical and Critical Overview

Kathleen Kendall, University of Southampton

This paper provides an overview of the origins of the cognitive behavioural model currently underpinning correctional policy and practice in both Canada and the UK. While rehabilitation was to some extent undermined in the UK by the challenge of `Nothing Works', this was not the case in Canada where work carried out by psychologists associated with the Correctional Service of Canada resulted in the adoption of a cognitive behavioural approach to corrections. This model assumes that offenders have failed to develop particular cognitive skills and that this deficit is the root cause of their offending. The success of correctional cognitive behaviouralism, it is argued, is due largely to the ability of its proponents to reconfigure the rehabilitative ideal into a `governmental technology' in keeping with the political rationalities of advanced neo-liberal democracies. This process will be examined, using examples of `offending behaviour' programmes as illustrations.

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Updated 05/20/2006