Effectiveness of Skills Groups for Adolescents in Correctional Settings: A Scientific Systematic Review


According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2014), approximately 50,821 adolescents are held in residential placement facilities on any given day in the United States. Data suggests that about 20% of these adolescents suffer from mental health issues (Shelton, et al., 2011). This paper reviewed studies of three different group work-based treatment interventions: mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dialectical-behavioral therapy. The analysis will examine whether these interventions can effectively reduce maladaptive cognitions and decrease self-destructive behaviors, and whether they can be applied to adolescents aged 12-19 in correctional settings. Five studies met inclusion criteria; however, due to limitations including small sample sizes, a lack of follow up, a variety of behaviors being measured, and a range of different types of skills groups, several were excluded. For the purposes of this review, the term “residential setting” will refer to correctional settings, inpatient psychiatric settings, and residential settings, and the terms “youth,” “juveniles,” and “adolescents,” will be used interchangeably.