Aggression Replacement Training® (ART®) concentrates on development of individual competencies to address various emotional and social aspects that contribute to aggressive behavior in youths. Program techniques are designed to teach youths how to control their angry impulses and take perspectives other than their own. The main goal is to reduce aggression and violence among youths by providing them with opportunities to learn prosocial skills in place of aggressive behavior.
The program is targeted at youths with a history of serious aggression and antisocial behavior, and can be applied across several different populations. Some potentially eligible populations include incarcerated juvenile offenders and youths with clinical behavioral disorders. It is recommended that potential participants are screened for risk and severity of aggressive/antisocial behavior before implementation to assess eligibility for inclusion. This type of assessment often includes the use of clinical instruments to examine the degree of problematic behavior in youths.
ART® consists of a 10-week, 30-hour intervention administered to groups of 8 to 12 juveniles three times per week. The program relies on repetitive learning and transfer training techniques to teach participants to control impulsiveness and anger so they can choose to use more appropriate prosocial behaviors. In addition, guided group discussion is used to correct antisocial thinking. The program consists of three interrelated components, all of which come together to promote a comprehensive aggression-reduction curriculum: Structured Learning Training, Anger Control Training, and Moral Reasoning. Each component focuses on a specific prosocial behavioral technique: action, affective/emotional, or thought/values. During program implementation, youths attend a 1-hour session each week for each of the three components.
- Structured Learning Training (action component). This component is intended to teach social skills through social interaction and is disseminated using direct instruction, role-play, practice, and performance feedback. This is intended to give participants the opportunity to practice prosocial responses to potentially difficult situations, such as responding to failure, dealing with an accusation, and responding to the feelings of others.
- Anger Control Training (affective/emotional component). This component is intended to help youths recognize their external and internal triggers for aggression, aggression signals, and how to control anger using various techniques. Participating youths must bring to each session one or more descriptions of recent anger-arousing experiences (hassles), and over the duration of the program they are trained to use specific skills to better control their angry impulses.
- Moral Reasoning (thought and values component). This component is intended to address the reasoning aspect of aggressive behavior, and is specifically designed to enhance values of morality in aggressive youths. Techniques in this component allow participants to learn to reason in a more advanced manner in regard to moral and ethical dilemmas, providing youths with opportunities to discuss their responses to problem situations, taking perspectives other than their own that represent a higher level of moral understating.
11 to 17
Felony Recidivism Rates
A study of Aggression Replacement Training® (ART®) by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (2004) indicated that within the 21 courts rated as either competent or highly competent, the 18-month felony recidivism rate was 19 percent, compared with 25 percent for the control group. This translates to a 24 percent statistically significant reduction in felony recidivism among ART® youths in competent courts relative to those who did not receive treatment.
For courts deemed not competent, the 18-month felony recidivism rate was 27 percent, compared with 25 percent for the control group. This translates to a 7 percent increase in felony recidivism among ART® youths relative to those who did not receive treatment, but this finding was not statistically significant.
With all courts combined (competent and not competent), the 18-month felony recidivism rate was 21 percent, compared with 25 percent for the control group. This translates to a 16 percent statistically significant reduction in felony recidivism among ART® youths in all courts relative to those who did not receive treatment.
The findings provide implications for the importance of fidelity during the administration of ART®; as results indicate that courts that implement the program in a competent manner provide more effective reductions in recidivism than courts that do not.
Gundersen and Svartdal’s 2006 study of Aggression Replacement Training® (ART®) found that, based on parent-reported results, there were significant improvements in Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) scores among ART® youths but no significant change among comparison youths. Based on teacher-reported scores, ART® youths demonstrated a significant increase in SSRS scores, while comparison youths demonstrated a nonsignificant change. Based on child-reported scores, there were nonsignificant changes in both ART® youths and comparison youths.
Based on the results, it can be surmised that ART® promoted an effective improvement in social skills among participating youths.
How I Think scores among ART® youths improved significantly for both the treatment and control groups.
Based on parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) scores, problem behavior was significantly reduced among ART® youths relative to the comparison youths, which had no significant changes. Based on teacher-reported CBCL scores, problem behavior was significantly reduced among ART® youths relative to the control group, which had no significant changes. Children-reported CBCL scores indicated significant reductions in both ART® youths and comparison youths.
Based on parent-reported Child and Adolescent Disruptive Behavior Inventory 2.3 (CADBI) scores, problem behavior was significantly reduced among ART® youths relative to the comparison youths, which indicated nonsignificant reductions. Based on teacher-reported CADBI scores, problem behavior was significantly reduced among ART® youths relative to the comparison group, which had no significant changes. Based on a custom-made self-report form adapted to the CADBI, problem behavior was significantly reduced among ART® youths relative to the comparison group, which had no significant changes.