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Treatment Outcome Models

Treatment Outcome Models

There are various treatment plans available for the various groups of people who participate in therapy. The person responsible for vesting interest in the outcome of a specific treatment can assess the success or failure of each treatment program. Recidivism, relapse, and harm reduction are the primary models for treating the forensic population. The three models are linked by their immediate impact on the understanding of an anticipated therapeutic outcome. The three models can be very useful to clinicians who want to produce competent technical and medical publications and also be assisted in the preparation of a treatment strategy in legal settings. The recidivism model is founded on the recidivism principle (returning an individual back to prison following a release, irrespective of a newer offense or repetition of the old one that got them confined initially). When a person commits recidivism, it is almost always regarded as a failure (Hiller et al., pp.835).

The relapse model, on the other hand, is a little more defined in terms of its foundation, which is whether or not an individual reverts to an initial undesirable pattern of behavior. Relapse is frequently associated with drug use, but it can also apply to the treatment of mental health issues. The relapse model has primarily negative implications and cannot be viewed positively (Laws, 23). The Harm-Reduction Model is the most thoroughly examined, evaluated, and referred to of the three models. In contrast to the other two models, the model is theoretically supported by many clinicians. The model is based on the theory that the success of a treatment is defined by the offender causing less harm as a result of their subsequent misconduct following treatment than they would have caused if no treatment had been received (Marlatt, pp.780)

In practice, the three models would be unsuccessful in their treatment of the forensic population. The models have few positive characteristics, rendering them useless as a model for treatment outcomes (Wong & Gordon, pp.464). The recidivism model is highly inaccurate because it focuses on the people who are recidivating rather than the causes of the outcome. The primary cause of recidivism is ignored, which would cause felons to change their way of life, rendering the model ineffective. The relapse model ignores the fact that it is based on an individual’s decision to stop engaging in specific misconduct, and once out of prison, it is easier for an individual to relapse. The same can be said for mental health issues, where mediation may stabilize a prisoner, but once released, if the prisoner does not adhere to the prescribed medications, relapse occurs. The harm-reduction model appears to be at odds with the entire purpose of treatment. Treatment is not guaranteed if the harm or damage is reduced. There are numerous challenges associated with using the models as opposed to avoiding them due to their ineffectiveness. The recidivism model is useful for keeping track of the population that recidivates after being released from prison, contributing significant statistical figures for future reference. The relapse model has the advantage of allowing people to make mistakes because that is human nature, but with few negative consequences. The harm-reduction model, which is less commonly used than the other two models, causes offenders to engage in less heinous activities that would be much worse if not regulated.

The evaluation of the three primary outcome models leads to the correct conclusion that more research is needed to develop a useful treatment outcome model. None of the three outcome models can be fully claimed to be effective in offender treatment. The three models are more likely to have negative consequences for offenders than to serve the purpose of deterrence. In the field of psychology and forensics, the possibility of having more effective alternatives to replace the three outcome models remains viable.


Hiller, M, Knight, K, Simpson, D. “Prison-based substance abuse treatment, residential aftercare, and recidivism.” Addiction. Vol 94, Issue 6. (1999): 833-842.

Laws, R. “The rise and fall of relapse prevention.” Australian Psychologist. Vol 38, Issue 1. (2003): 22-30.

Marlatt, G. “Harm reduction: Come as you are.” Addictive Behaviors. Vol 21, Issue 6. (1996): 779-788.

Wong, S, Gordon, A. “The violence reduction program: A treatment program for violence-prone forensic clients.” Psychology, Crime & Law. Vol 19, Issue 5-6. (2013): 461-475.


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In 500-750 words:

Briefly describe each of the three treatment outcome models: recidivism, relapse, and harm reduction.

Compare (similarities and differences) the three treatment outcome models in terms of relevance in defining treatment success and/or failure with specific forensic populations, challenges in the application, and advantages of each model.

Treatment Outcome Models

Treatment Outcome Models

Explain at least one conclusion you drew or insight you gained as a result of your comparison.


Handbook of Forensic Mental Health with Victims and Offenders: Assessment, Treatment, and Research

Chapter 21, “Aftercare and Recidivism Prevention”

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