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Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)

About MRT

The term “moral” refers to moral reasoning based on Kohilberg’s levels of cognition reasoning.  The word “reconation” comes from the psychological terms “conative” and “conation” both of which refer to the process of making conscious decisions.  MRT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment system that leads to enhanced moral reasoning, better decision making, and more appropriate behavior.

Intervention Basics

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) seeks to decrease recidivism among both juvenile and adult criminal offenders by increasing moral reasoning. MRT is systematic and implements a cognitive-behavioral approach, which positively addresses an adolescent’s ego, social, moral, and positive behavioral growth.

MRT uses 12-16 objectively defined steps, which focus on seven basic treatment issues:

  • Confrontation of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors
  • Assessment of current relationships
  • Reinforcement of positive behavior and habits
  • Positive identity formation
  • Enhancement of self-concept
  • Decrease in hedonism and development of frustration tolerance
  • Development of higher stages of moral reasoning

Expectations of Sessions:


  • Group sessions. Group duration can range in length from 3-6 months.
  • Groups are facilitated by a Certified MRT facilitator


Recommended Populations

  • 18-25 (Young adult)
  • 26-55 (Adult)
  • Male and Female
  • Correctional

Special Considerations for Juvenile Drug Courts (JDCs)

While MRT is widely used in the U.S., there is limited research to support the use of MRT for U.S. adolescents and to support a reduction of adolescent substance use and/or abuse. According to a meta-analysis study of MRT published in 2005 by Gregory L. Little, The Las Cruces, New Mexico JDC showed a recidivism rate of .175 for the treated participants as compared to a .44 recidivism rate for the nonMRT-treated participants. A comprehensive report of the El Paso County JDC Program published in 2008 by Rosie Medina found that after MRT was implemented in 2005, there was a dramatic improvement in behavior and cognitive decision-making by their participants. A study of the successful outcomes of the Anne Arundel County, Maryland Juvenile Treatment Court done in 2007 Robert A. Kirchner and Cristin E. S. Tolen found that implementing MRT was effective in reducing recidivism (only 8.6% re-offend as compared to the previous rate of 31% before the implementation of MRT), retaining clients in treatment (68.5% retention rate), and graduating clients (a doubling of the number of successful graduates).

The success rate of MRT has been deemed meaningful enough that MRT has been granted “Evidence-Based Practice Status” with adults and “Promising Practice Status” with juveniles by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), as “Evidence-Based Practice” by the Oregon Department of Human Services, and as “Evidence-Based Practice” by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in their 2011 Sourcebook of Delinquency Interventions. The Research Update on Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts released by the NADCP in 2010 found that when JDCs incorporate evidence-based practices into their program and tailor their interventions to the cognitive and maturational levels of adolescents, reductions in delinquency and substance abuse have been higher than without these types of practices and interventions.

Three Locations

Feel free to visit us at any of our three New Hampshire locations.

Southern New Hampshire

Manchester Office
834 Elm Street, Third Floor
Manchester, NH 03101
Telephone: (603) 668-6505
Fax: (603) 622-0498

Central New Hampshire

Concord Office
PO Box 3713
Concord, NH 03302-3713
Telephone: (603) 545-9042
Fax: (603) 219-0040

Seacoast Area

Rochester Office
664 Columbus Avenue, Suite 2
Rochester NH 03867
Telephone: (603) 545-9042
Fax: (603) 948-1077