Cognitive Outreach Groups (COG)

About the Program
Since January 2002, the Lake County Adult Probation Department has been offering Cognitive Outreach Groups (COG), which is firmly based on the National Institute of Corrections Thinking for a Change Program. Thinking for a Change is an integrated, cognitive behavior change program for offenders. The program includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills. Thinking for a Change is designed for delivery in small group settings over 22 basic 1-day lessons, with the capacity for unlimited continuing sessions that meet the particular needs of each group of residents. The curriculum was developed in the late 1990s by Barry Glick, Ph.D., Jack Bush, Ph.D., and Juliana Taymans, Ph.D., in cooperation with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC).

In May of 2008, Facilitators, Jeff Ross and Frank Morelli trained approximately 30 people on COG over the course of 3 days (May 21, 2008-May 23, 2008). In attendance from the Juvenile Probation/Detention Services were Dr. Michael Fletcher, Ms. Maria Cisneros, Dr. Tracy Halsema, Mr. Robert Lee, and Mr. Jeremiah Scott. After several meetings, planning and preparation, the team began the Thinking for a Change program on July 9, 2008. This first group consisted of 11 residents.

The concept of the program is based on the belief that our thinking controls our behaviors, therefore by taking control of our thinking we can take control of behavior and subsequently change our lives. The goals in implementing the program are to: increase the number of clients who successfully complete probation, reduce recidivism and improve clients’ abilities to take control and responsibility of their thoughts, behaviors and lives. The 3 main components of the COG Program are Social Skills, Cognitive Self-Change and Problem Solving. Groups consist of 10-12 residents and 1 to 3 facilitators who meet twice a week for a total of 22 lessons. Each lesson lasts an average of 1.5 hours. It is an interactive program, which requires members to share personal experiences, provide feedback and to participate in role-playing exercises. Group members are also given written assignments at the end of each lesson that they are required to present to the group the following week.