Community-Based Implementation of a Paraprofessional-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for Youth Involved with the Criminal Justice System

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2019;30(2):841-865. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2019.0059.


Psychosocial interventions for common emotional and behavioral difficulties have been developed for use in correctional facilities, yet these programs are largely unavailable upon community re-entry due to a shortage of trained mental health specialists. In this study, we developed and piloted a youth worker-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program for young men at high risk for incarceration receiving services at a youth development organization. We formed a community-academic partnership to support the conduct of research across all phases of this project (2014-2016). We analyzed data gathered through focus groups and individual interviews with program staff, administrators, and young men. This study reports on implementation process and outcomes across phases. Main findings indicate the preliminary feasibility and acceptability of the youth worker-delivered CBT curriculum. We discuss strengths and limitations of our approach and provide suggestions for future studies that aim to implement paraprofessional-delivered CBT programs within community-based organizations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / education
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / organization & administration
  • Community Mental Health Services* / methods
  • Community Mental Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Criminal Law / methods
  • Criminal Law / organization & administration
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Young Adult