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How Interactive Journals Promote Behavior Change

“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.” – Paulo Coelho

The key to person-centered treatment is engaging people in their own self-change process. This is why The Change Companies® builds tools to help people choose their own paths forward. One of these tools is Interactive Journaling®.

Interactive Journaling® was designed to answer the question, “If all change is self-change, how do we engage people more in their own recovery?” The result is a structured and experiential writing process that motivates and guides participants toward positive behavior change.

“Once I understood that it was up to me, that I was the only one who could do the daily work of change, good things began to happen.”

— Participant response

Created with support from more than 250 professionals in the health and human services fields, Interactive Journals rest on a solid research foundation. Each draws on cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, expressive writing and the transtheoretical model of behavior change.

Interactive Journals provide a method you can use to engage, inform and inspire participants. Designed to help people make lasting changes, each Journal emphasizes real-life application, encouraging participants to ask, “What does this mean to me?” and “How can I apply this to my life today?”

Cost Efficient and Flexible Implementation

Providing solid results, Interactive Journals are a flexible, affordable resource that can fit any budget. Comprehensive Facilitator Guides can help you implement the curriculum with fidelity in open or closed groups, as well as individual sessions. Journals are available for addiction treatment, justice services, youth intervention, impaired driving, health and wellness, and faith-specific programming.

Interactive journals behavior change

Evidence for Interactive Journals: The Results

The Change Companies® has worked with top researchers for 30 years to stay on the leading edge of behavioral change and mental health science, collaborating with front-line providers and internationally recognized experts, including Drs. David Mee-Lee, William Miller and James Prochaska.

Interactive Journaling® has been listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Practices (NREPP) and has seen positive results across numerous third-party studies, including:

Interactive Journaling® Reduces Recidivism in Randomized Controlled Trial

The recidivism rate for Interactive Journaling® was 15% lower than the control group. This was measured by individuals being sentenced within a 12-month period following entry into the study.
Proctor, S. L., Hoffmann, N. G., & Allison, S. (2011). The Effectiveness of Interactive Journaling in Reducing Recidivism Among Substance-Dependent Jail Inmates. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 56(2), 317-332.

Interactive Journaling® Reduces Criminality and Substance Use for Prison Inmates

Interactive Journals were administered as part of the 12-month residential drug abuse (RDAP) program. Participants who completed the program were two times less likely to engage in criminality, four times less likely to engage in substance use and had 10 times greater odds of having employment and housing stability than non-completers of the program.
Moore, M. J. (2011). Examining Participants’ Motivations to Change in Residential Drug Abuse Program Graduates: Comparing ‘Stages of Change’ Assessment Data with Post-Release Status (Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota).

Interactive Journaling® Promotes Effective Rehabilitation

The Courage to Change Interactive Journaling® System was administered to 300 sentenced offenders. Nearly all offenders showed positive change in attitudes, criminal thinking and behaviors; 70-80% showed a decrease in conduct issues and 75% felt they could apply the concepts in their daily lives. Staff implementing the program reported an 80% increase in job satisfaction.
Rector, B. L. (2011). Restructuring Custody and use of Interactive Journals to Increase Effective Rehabilitation. Presentation at CPA/NACCJPC Convention, Toronto.

Interactive Journaling® Reduces Recidivism in Four States

This paper summarizes the results of four independently conducted evaluations of Interactive Journaling® for impaired driving populations. Results across diverse states and populations revealed significant reductions in recidivism among program participants, ranging from 27% to 46%.
Ernst, D. B. (2009). Interactive Journaling® Reduces Recidivism Rates following The Change Companies®’ Impaired Driving Curricula. Report commissioned by The Change Companies®.

Over 30 years, Interactive Journals have also been custom-designed for clients and refined with feedback from thousands of service providers.

Interactive Journals for Impaired Driving

Brenda Gardner, a self-employed DUI consultant in Indianapolis, said having her clients use the Flex Modules: An Impaired Driving Series is “so much more effective than telling them your perspective or opinion.”

“It gives me a chance to be honest. It gives me a chance to look at myself and see how I’ve grown in my recovery.”

— Participant response

The modules and other impaired driving curriculum, can be used for a range of impaired driving programming, encourage responsible decision-making and reduce recidivism by assisting participants in making positive behavior change.

“When clients write their responses in the Journals, they begin to see clearly how they arrived at this junction on their life path,” Gardner said. “They are amazed that they begin to see their current situation with clarity. Their new enlightenment is a powerful teacher.”

Interactive Journals for Behavioral Health

Scott Hammond, program manager at Lighthouse Outreach Center, a Christian-based homeless shelter in Oklahoma, said clients are getting a lot out of the Life Skills Journals. The behavioral health series offers practical life skills that help participants make healthy choices. 

“Those who have stayed long enough to complete the whole series have shown a much higher rate of becoming self-sufficient in society,” Hammond said. 

Hammond also noted that Interactive Journaling® allows his clients to customize their response to their own real life situation rather than being given “correct” canned answers.

“Journaling helps our clients personalize the concepts taught in the classes, so the solutions can be applied to individual circumstances,” Hammond said.

Interactive Journals for Probation and Parole

After completing the Peer Relationships Journal in the Courage to Change series, an offender in Martin County Community Corrections in Indiana told his case manager, Dorthy Perrotte, that he’d had an epiphany.

“One of my clients stated that he realized how much impact his negative peer associations have had on his life,” Perrotte said. “He started saying ‘no’ to his old friends for the first time and felt very good about it. The individual successfully completed home detention and has remained crime-free.”

Perrotte’s example is a microcosm of the Courage to Change model. The series is designed for participants to address their individual problem areas and develop a roadmap for success in their efforts to make positive behavior change.

“I feel as though it’s like having my own personal counselor.”

— Participant response

For Lenard Simpson, probation and parole agent at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the series “levels the playing field” between offender and agent.

“The Journal gives the offender the right playbook and it gives the agent the right plays to call,” Simpson said. “I feel this not only places the offender and agent on the same team, but gives the offender and agent the best chance to win the game.”

Let Us Help You Choose the Right Interactive Journals

If you’d like help identifying the best Interactive Journals for your program, contact us at 888-889-8866. Team members at The Change Companies® can make informed recommendations and provide implementation training for your staff.