Local stakeholders involved in youth crime and violence prevention explored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as an intervention strategy for at-risk youth, during a virtual workshop on Tuesday (April 13).
The event was hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Local Partner Development (LPD), which is a six-year activity aimed at reducing crime and violence in Jamaica through community-based initiatives.
CBT is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviours and emotions.
The strategy has proven to be an effective psychological intervention for reducing youth violence when compared to traditional forms of therapy.
The workshop focused on the Role Model type of CBT, which has shown positive results in reducing youth involvement in violence in Mexico.
Youth Crime and Violence Prevention Specialist, LPD, Machel Stewart, who addressed the virtual session, said that CBT seeks to delve into the issues that lead youth to become involved in crime and violence, with the intention of reducing maladaptive behaviours.
“It is something which we believe practitioners here in Jamaica who are interested in CBT will learn from and be able to apply,” he said.
Director, ProSociedad Mexico, Carlos Bauche Madero, explained that CTB is an approach in which trained specialists hold sessions “that help at-risk or offender youth evaluate and modify the way they think and make decisions”.
He said that the focus is on identifying and replacing negative thoughts with positive values, skills and responses.
“Our overall goal is to contribute to development and reduce the risk of involvement in violence, criminal behaviours in young people,” he pointed out.
Director, Office of Citizen Security, USAID Jamaica, Shannon Stone, who addressed the workshop, said that the agency is pleased to be a long-standing partner and supporter of Jamaica’s development, particularly through progammes in support of citizen security and the creation of safe and thriving communities.
“USAID, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and others, recognises the role of CBT as an effective intervention to help youth adopt new ways of thinking and improve their decision-making skills, resulting in changed behaviours. We are happy to see Jamaica moving in that direction, and through LPD and our [other] programmes, we stand ready to assist and support where we can,” she said.
Heads of agencies, practitioners and key actors involved in youth crime prevention participated in the virtual workshop. The objective was to generate buy-in and feedback from key stakeholders on the Role Model type of CBT, for implementation locally.
Topics examined during the workshop included ‘Framing the problem of youth violence in Jamaica’, the ‘Use of CBT models in crime and violence’, ‘Effectiveness of the Role Model CBT in Mexico’, and ‘Psychological support for medium and high-risk youth in Jamaica’.
Other presenters included Chief of Party, Local Partner Development, FHI 360, Morana Smodlaka Krajnović; Coordinator of Violence Prevention Strategies, ProSociedad Mexico, Daniel Quirarte; Psychologist, Peace Management Initiative (PMI) Western, Dr. Melva Spence; Clinical Psychologist, Institute for Applied Social Research, Dr. Kai Morgan and Director at the Institute, Dr. Joy Moncrieffe.
LPD works with the Government, private sector and civil society organisations to increase their capacity to be more effective at reducing risk factors, while strengthening the resilience of at-risk youth, preventing a cycle of violence. It is being implemented by non-profit organisation FHI 360 Jamaica.