Treatment Approach


The Haag Home requires that you be held accountable for all your actions, past, present, and future. Your criminal thinking and behavior is addressed every treatment hour; you will learn to identify patterns in your thinking as a direct means of understanding yourself.


By definition every client at the Haag Home is a “criminal”, or we would not be working with him. The word “Criminal” is used as a term that allows someone to acknowledge and accept their criminality so that they may move into recovery.


We believe that, like an alcoholic or addict, you will be a criminal (by definition) for the rest of your life. You may not commit any more crimes, however, the minute your thinking returns unchecked to your former thought process, you will eventually commit another crime. There are no ex-offenders, there are only recovering offenders who constantly must be alert in any thinking that allows them to avoid accountability and responsibility for their behavior.


An Important Question:

Do you want to change the consequences of your behaviors?

If you are not concerned with the consequences then we (staff, peers, programs etc.) cannot help you.


We want you to be fully aware of the thinking and behavior that has allowed you to escape accountability and responsibility for your behavior. We want to assist you in becoming aware of how your behavior has led to your arrest, adjudication, incarceration, and parole/probation. We will also teach you how to hold those around you in treatment accountable.


First let us identify what we know about the criminal:


Criminal Thinking


A criminal thinks differently than a prosocial person, which is the reason that the crime makes sense to the criminal. The antisocial model states that criminals commit crimes because their thinking rationalizes and justifies their behavior, and that criminal behavior is the result of erroneous (flawed) thinking.


A criminals’ thinking allows him to view himself as a good person. He truly believes or sees himself as a decent individual. Most criminals believe their actions are very justifiable. They may not see how the same action is okay for another criminal, but it is for them.


When criminals think about what they want, it is already an accomplished fact. If they see someone they want to be with, in their mind, the act is accomplished. They just need to complete it.


Criminals cannot even entertain thoughts that would be harmless for prosocial people. If these thoughts do enter their minds, they must have some tool or mechanism to replace the thoughts with the right thoughts. The alcoholic cannot afford to even begin to think about drinking. If they do, they either are on the road to or in relapse.


Every word, every deed, every action that a criminal says or does, which allows him to support his “uniqueness” must be addressed in order for him to put the brakes on his thinking. The change agent’s job is to point this out.  Like a criminal, most prosocial people also use thinking errors.  These thinking errors are however not used in the same manner or to the same degree.




Criminals lack empathy. That is, they have an inability to recognize and experience how others feel.


Many criminals express a strong disbelief that they may actually have to face their victim(s) in court.  It is during this process that the crime becomes more personalized, and criminals operate from the belief that much of what they do is not personal. 


The most difficult assignment to ask a criminal to do is for him to describe the feelings that his victim(s) may have had while they were being victimized.  This is a very difficulty undertaking.  The criminal must first develop an understanding of his own thinking process before he can develop empathy (or the ability to recognize and experience how his victim feels) for someone else.


Power Pendulum


The Power Pendulum is constantly swinging.  Criminals are either gaining or losing power. They operate mostly from extremes. When they perceive that they have power, they are in a “God state.” When they perceive that they have lost power, they are in “zero state”.  Generally, there is no middle ground (or the prosocial persons normal state).


When a criminal perceives that he is losing power (headed toward “zero state”), he will attempt to control the counselor, peer, staff, parent or authority figure in any way he can. He will push all the buttons, challenge, ridicule, shame, curse, and so forth to establish a return to the “God state”.


Another major focus for the criminal, which tends to be self-evident, is the struggle for power and control. For the criminal, power and control always carries with it the question of, “can I get away with it”?


Convict Code


Another big difference between the thinking process of a prosocial person and that of a criminal is in to what extent he is willing to shelter and cover up the acts of a fellow criminal.  The convict code is a (false) protection code that allows convicts to commit crimes without fear of being turned in. The code is based on fear, power, control, irresponsibility, false pride, and sentimentality. The convict code is enforced by those individuals who refuse to accept responsibility for their own behavior. The only rights allowed by this code are those given out by the person (or persons) perceived as being the strongest or having the most power. This code does not allow for freedom and often crumbles under the weight of interrogation. 


If one expresses individual prosocial opinions or feelings regarding irresponsible behavior, they are put down and looked on as weak. The criminal enjoys a euphoric feeling (that of getting High) when he commits a violation of some kind and does not get caught. The convict code helps in this process by setting people up and controlling their behavior.



The Treatment Approach


Because of the extremely negative impact on treatment, the convict code this is the first place we start. It is very important that there are no secrets in the program. Everything is out in the open. The saying “what is said in the group stays in the group” does not apply to this program. This Treatment Approach is embraced to help eliminate the keeping of secrets, which is the criminal’s most sacred behavior. This approach will include clients addressing issues with each other both in groups and individual sessions. They will be expected to hold one another accountable for these goals in the community and at home.


In as much as a “snitch” is looked down upon by his fellow criminals, a person who fails to confront another criminal about secretive behavior or thinking is enabling that person (allowing him to get away with the behavior and thoughts that will get him into trouble later).  Enabling is in complete opposition to Treatment.


Group therapy should focus on the commonalities in thinking patterns that all group members share. It is not a time for some members to pounce on others for their faults and mistakes.  Some things to focus on are:

Finally, it is important for the agent of change (staff, therapist etc.) to have access to a reliable source of information who knows the criminal well.



Thinking Reports


Thinking Reports are short assignments given to someone who is using: Thinking Errors, Masks, Tactics, the Power Pendulum and the Convict Code to support their criminal behavior.  Thinking reports will be given out to help identify a behavior or a thought that is criminal, or against the rules. The goal in these assignments is for each person to be more aware of their thinking patterns so they can reduce the amount of criminal thinking and replace it with corrective thinking, or prosocial thinking.


Group Sessions


During group sessions, we will train members to monitor and anticipate problem behaviors. We will role-play and rehearse alternatives to problem behaviors.


Prior to entering the group, individual sessions will be conducted to determine if a person will contribute to the group and not “poison” it. For a person to be eligible to be in a group, the person must:



Treatment Approach


The Haag Home requires that you be held accountable for all your actions, past, present, and future. Your criminal thinking and behavior is addressed                                         ; you will learn to identify patterns in your thinking as a direct means of understanding yourself.


By definition, what is a “criminal”? __________________________________________________________________



Why (by definition) is a criminal considered to be so for the rest of his or her life? _____________________________




What Important Question must you ask yourself prior to treatment? ________________________________________



Criminal Thinking


How does a criminal commit crimes according to the antisocial model? _____________________________________




How does a criminals’ thinking allow him to view himself? ________________________________________________


Can a criminal entertain antisocial thoughts? __________________________________________________________


What must they do if they start thinking criminal thoughts? ________________________________________________




Does a prosocial person use thinking errors? __________________________________________________________


How is it different for an antisocial person to use thinking errors? __________________________________________







What is empathy? ______________________________________________________________________________




Why is it important for a criminal to have empathy for his victim(s)?_________________________________________










Power Pendulum


What is the Power Pendulum? ____________________________________________________________________




What is the “God State? _________________________________________________________________________




What is the “Zero State? _________________________________________________________________________




What Question does Power and Control always carry with it? _____________________________________________



Convict Code


What is the Convict Code? _______________________________________________________________________




How is the Convict Code enforced? _________________________________________________________________





The Treatment Approach


Three areas to focus on in Groups are:


1. ____________________________________________________________________________________________




2. ____________________________________________________________________________________________




3. ____________________________________________________________________________________________





Thinking Reports


What is a Thinking Report? ________________________________________________________________________