The Impact of Motivational Interviewing on Delinquent Behaviors in Incarcerated Adolescents

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The impact of Motivational Interviewing (MI) on risky behaviors of incarcerated adolescents and adults has been investigated with promising results. Findings suggest that MI reduces substance use, improves motivation and confidence to reduce use, and decreases risky behaviors. The current study investigated the impact of MI on general, alcohol-related, and marijuana-related delinquent behaviors in incarcerated adolescents. Participants in the study were incarcerated adolescents in a state correctional facility in the Northeast region and were assessed as part of a larger randomized clinical trial. Adolescents were randomly assigned to receive MI or relaxation therapy (RT) (N = 189) treatment. Delinquent behaviors and depressive symptomatology were measured using the Delinquent Activities Scale (DAS; Reavy, Stein, Paiva, Quina, & Rossi, 2012) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1991) respectively. Findings indicate that depression moderated treatment effects. Compared to RT, MI was better at reducing predatory aggression and alcohol-related predatory aggression 3 months post-release when depressive symptoms were low. Identifying an efficacious treatment for these adolescents may benefit society in that it may decrease crimes against persons (i.e., predatory aggression) post release.

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Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment