Cognitive Self Change
How Offenders Experience the World and What We Can Do About It
About the Cognitive Self Change Program
Cognitive Self Change (CSC) is a program designed to teach offenders how to change their own thinking. It is used in a range of jurisdictions across North America, Europe and Australia.
It is described in the book, which was published in June 2016. Cognitive Self Change was created by Dr Jack Bush in 1989.
This website aims to provide additional resources for jurisdictions interested in implementing CSC, facilitators who run the program, and the offenders who participate in the program.
Cognitive Self Change takes offenders’ ways of experiencing their circumstances at the time they offend as the starting point for change. More specifically, we start by focusing our attention, and theirs, on the internal experience that gives rise to their acts of offending: the thoughts and feelings, beliefs and attitudes, the ‘life principles’ and ‘personal rules’ that shape the meaning of their experience and their motivation to offend.
We teach offenders to be objective observers of their own internal experiences. We teach them to recognise the connection between their internal experience and their offending behaviour. We teach them how to think of new ways to think that doesn’t lead them to offend while still providing an experience of self-worth and self-efficacy. And we challenge them to practice using this new kind of thinking in real-life situations until they get good at it.
That, in a nutshell, is Cognitive Self Change.
The book is now available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle:
“Jack Bush’s distillation of cognitive restructuring into four steps also appears to be a core set of skills” (p. 413)
“Many programs are still operating on the basis of weakly formulated principles of group dynamics, often infused with a mishmash of Rogerian and existential notions of the underlying goodness of humankind ... which would become evident if only the person or group could experience trust, openness and noncontingent valuing. The work of Jack Bush (1995) ... has made great strides in managing this problem. Candor must be encouraged when antisocial cognitions are being explored. In their Cognitive Self Change program, absolute candor without judgement and without ‘counseling’ or ‘correction’ is the practice when a ‘thinking report’ is being prepared” (p. 388)
The program will not try to make you change. Instead, we teach skills you can use to change yourself. Whether or not you use these skills to change your life is up to you.
We teach skills for steering away from offending and being able to feel good about yourself when you do it. After you learn these skills you will have a real choice to make: to stay as you are or to use these skills to change your life.
If you don't learn these skills you are not really making decisions at all - your important decisions will have already been made. Your decisions will be made in advance by the attitudes and habits of thinking you perform in your mind automatically, 'without thinking".