Moral Reconation Therapy, or MRT, is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps people with a drug or alcohol addiction move from a hedonistic level of reasoning to a higher level of moral reasoning.
Moral Reconation Therapy was developed in the 1980s for incarcerated populations, and its success led to using MRT for other populations, including those with substance addictions.
Based on the assumption that the decisions of people who are addicted to drugs are driven by pain and pleasure rather than a sense of personal and social responsibility, Moral Reconation Therapy works to increase patients' self-esteem, help them identify their purpose in life, and set goals for the future. This leads to happier and more productive lives that have a higher purpose.
A large body of research has found Moral Reconation Therapy to be highly effective for reducing thrill-seeking behaviors, improving patients' self-esteem, increasing skills in principled reasoning, and reducing expressions of emotions in a destructive way.
People who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol often have false beliefs, harmful attitudes, and unhealthy thought processes that lead to destructive behaviors. Low self-esteem and low self-efficacy are common in people with substance addictions. Moral Reconation Therapy seeks to improve patients' moral reasoning by helping them identify false beliefs and harmful thoughts, attitudes and ideas, which lead to undesirable behaviors. Once these are identified, patients learn how to replace them with healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
MRT focuses on positive self-image, productive social functioning, a sense of morality in terms of the greater good, and developing positive attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors. The vehicle for these changes is goal setting, the building of motivation, and the adoption of higher personal values.
Rehabilitation centers use MRT in the form of group classes and individual work. Classes meet once or twice a week, and patients complete homework assignments between classes and share their work at the next session. Facilitators who are trained in MRT ask pointed, prescribed questions about each exercise, and it's in the patient's response and subsequent discussion that the positive changes take place.
Patients move through various levels of self-awareness throughout the process and ideally end up in a state of higher moral reasoning that considers personal and social good when making decisions.
MRT follows a set curriculum that's outlined in a workbook consisting of 16 units that cover seven steps that lead to higher moral reasoning. Patients:
Because MRT doesn't require a high level of reading and comprehension skills, it will benefit people of all intelligences. Additionally, it includes both group sessions and individual work to suit learners of all types. And since MRT is designed so that patients can enter an ongoing MRT program at any time, there's no need to wait for a session to begin.
MRT can be successful for both voluntary and involuntary participants in addiction recovery by helping people with an addiction confront the attitudes and beliefs about themselves and the world that contribute to their decision to abuse drugs. It helps patients find personal value and greater purpose, which can vastly improve their quality of life.