Statewide Training: Adult Treatment Court

Add expert speakers to your state treatment court conference at no cost.

The Treatment Court Institute provides speakers at no cost to support state treatment court conferences and other events around the country. Browse the available session topics below or let us help you identify a session based on the subjects important to your state. You can find statewide training topics for veterans treatment courts here.

Statewide training is supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Behavior Modification

Course Topics

When Sanctions and Incentives Don’t Work: Responding to Addiction-Driven Noncompliance

Incentives and sanctions, also known as contingency management, are essential to treatment court success. They are a powerful tool for improving client behavior and program outcomes when properly used. Treatment courts achieve be=er outcomes when practitioners understand the science behind behavior management and apply the principles. The research is clear— reliably impacting participant behavior requires both consistent reinforcements of positive behaviors and reliable responses to undesirable behaviors. Nonetheless, despite our best intentions (and perhaps the best intentions of the participants), some%mes incentives and sanctions ‘don’t work. For some participants, our responses to behavior seem to have no impact. This session will describe the essential elements of effective behavior modification in a treatment court and reveal what actions a program should consider when its efforts appear futile.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the science underlying incentives, sanctions, and other responses in specialty
  • Learn the essential elements of effective behavior modification in treatment courts
  • Discover the four reasons contingency management doesn’t work and actions a program
    can take to address those causes of failure

Incentives, Sanctions and Therapeutic Adjustments

This presentation outlines basic behavior modification principles and their applicability in keeping participants engaged in treatment court programs and moving toward long-term recovery. It looks at how programs can use participant-driven incentives to formulate a strategy of creative responses desirable to the participant and give the participant an opportunity to be rewarded through positive and negative reinforcement. It identifies the importance of formal and informal incentives and their application in the program. The presentation recognizes the effect of immediate consequences in modifying client behavior.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how incentives motivate participants to comply with program requirements
  • Identify various creative incentives that can be used to respond to a participant’s conduct
  • Learn that incentives must be consistently and uniformly imposed

Impact of Motivational Interviewing for Treatment Court Professionals

Motivational Interviewing is designed to help participants see what matters to them and helps them to be engaged, feel valued, and develop a vested interest in their long-term recovery planning and case management. Through Motivational Interviewing, the participant has buy-in and a voice in identifying goals and a value system that gives them a major role in recovery

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the principles and skills needed to deliver court responses effectively
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of Motivational Interviewing to assist clients in changing
    their behavior

Best Practice Standards

Course Topics

Best Practice Standards Vol. I

In 2013, NADCP published Volume I of the ground-breaking Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards, and in 2015, released Volume II. These standards provide practical, implementable, and enforceable guidance on how adult drug courts operate in 10 critical areas.

Learning Objectives:

  • Receive a summary of each standard in Volume I and some of the fascinating research on which each standard is based
  • Learn why adherence to the standards is essential for the continued success of the adult drug court model
  • Learn about the adult drug court practice areas likely to be the focus of future standards

Best Practice Standards Vol. II

In 2015, NADCP released Volume II of the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards. The standards are derived from scientific evidence proving which practices improve outcomes, avoid harmful effects, and make optimum use of scarce resources. This presentation will review Volume II of the standards and the evidence supporting the practice recommendations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Receive a summary of each standard in Volume II and some of the fascinating research on which each standard is based
  • Learn why adherence to the standards is essential for the continued success of the adult drug court model
  • Learn about the adult drug court practice areas likely to be the focus of future standards

Do the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards Apply to Other Treatment Court Types? What fits, What Might Fit, What Doesn’t Fit

The Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards are based on research performed in hundreds of adult drug courts. Do these standards and specific best practices apply to other treatment courts? What are the differences between the participants in adult drug courts and the participants in other treatment courts (e.g., DWI courts, family treatment courts, juvenile treatment courts, mental health courts, veterans treatment courts)? This session will explore the research-based best practices for adult drug courts and how they apply, might apply, or don’t apply to other treatment court types. It will also discuss some of the latest research in other (non-adult) treatment court types and whether it supports the adult drug court best practices.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the adult drug court model and the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards
  • Learn about research on best practices for different types of treatment courts
  • Learn about the best practices that apply, might apply, or don’t apply across different populations

Drug Testing

Course Topics

Drug Testing 101

Effective drug testing in treatment courts is essential to the program’s success. This session provides a comprehensive overview with information and strategies for building and maintaining a successful abstinence monitoring program. Collection strategies and result interpretation—two essential components of a credible testing program—will be discussed. You will learn the reasons for testing, how to select clients for maximum abstinence surveillance, and what specimens yield the best results. Additional focus issues will include controlling sample tampering and using creatinine measurements, the application of EtG/EtS urine alcohol monitoring, the challenges of on-site testing, dispelling popular drug testing myths, and much more.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the basic principles of drug testing
  • Gain knowledge of effective drug testing to ensure the success of abstinence monitoring
  • Learn which drug testing myths are true and false

Drug Testing and Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

The number of treatment court participants addicted to opioids (e.g., heroin, morphine, prescription pain relievers) has increased. As a result, the courts include the use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) to assist these clients. However, does the use of MOUD to promote recovery complicate the interpretation of drug testing results?

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to use standard instrument-based screening immunoassays drug tests (in-lab or in-court), and understand that MOUD does not cross-react to produce false positive results
  • Recognize that the cross-reactivity toward MOUD is largely unstudied when using on-site testing devices
  • Confirmation testing (GX, MS, or LC/MS) resolves all cross-reactivity issues

DWI Court

Course topics

Intent vs. Impact: Are We Set Up to Fail?

DWI treatment court practitioners want the best for the people they serve. Using a variety of tools, resources, and services enables the team to respond to the specific needs an individual has, thereby providing the greatest chance for a successful outcome. However, having a systematic and inflexible approach (i.e., treating everyone the same) in responding to individual needs may have an impact that differs from the intent. Sometimes, the best intentions simply miss their mark; other times, they have a negative impact. A team needs to understand how to create a program and respond to behaviors that don’t set up the program or the individual to fail. This session examines common missteps in providing treatment, incentivizing participation, creating case plans and court requirements, costs of services, and responding to behavior. Note: While this session is aimed at DWI treatment court practitioners, much of the information also applies outside of that arena to other models of treatment court, treatment, and supervision.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will identify the difference between a systematic treatment approach versus individualized treatment, and the importance of alliance and adherence in treatment programming and case management.
  • Participants will recognize how teams must be willing and able to be flexible in creating and adjusting case plans and responding to behavior.
  • Participants will identify demographic characteristics that impact program rules, requirements, and case planning, and how ignoring these factors may set up a participant to fail.

Reimagining Responses to Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is one of the most complex issues in the justice system. Complex laws, lengthy case processing, public safety implications, societal views, and unique justice-involved individuals require multiple strategies to respond to impaired driving. Unfortunately, jurisdictions often focus on one area of the system to put their energy and resources, rather than having strategies across the justice spectrum to reduce impaired driving. This session explores strategies and programming to reform the justice system’s response to impaired driving. Methods include focus on timeliness, screening and assessment, pre- and post-adjudication supervision and services, and program development based on risk and need.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the complexity of impaired driving cases and the barriers that impact the timeliness of services.
  • Recognize strategies to provide early screening, assessment, supervision, and services.
  • Receive a primer on the importance of developing programming based on risk and need.

Developing Tracks for Your DWI Court

Perhaps you’ve taken steps to implement validated risk and need tools for the impaired driving population. Perhaps you’ve also ensured a clinical assessment is conducted as part of the referral process to DWI court. The next step is to determine how to separate the population to avoid mixing various levels of risk and need. For jurisdictions seeking to respond to impaired drivers based on risk and need, using the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model is critical in determining appropriate programming for each individual. This session highlights the various tracks and recommended phase structures to ensure your program produces the best outcomes for each of the risk-need quadrants.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize how assessments and the RNR model are used to place impaired drivers into appropriate programming.
  • Walk away with recommended phase structures based on the risk-need quadrant model.
  • Identify potential barriers, necessary resources, and how developing tracks impacts program capacity.

The 10 Guiding Principles in 2023: Examining Effective Practices With High-Risk/High-Need Impaired Drivers

It has been nearly 20 years since “The Ten Guiding Principles of DWI Courts” was written as the foundation for how jurisdictions would implement and operate a treatment court developed specifically for impaired drivers. While the 10 Guiding Principles remain the foundation of how DWI courts should operate, in 2023, much has changed since they were written. If courts haven’t evolved as the research has evolved, their practices are likely outdated and thus may be ineffective for the population they serve. This session takes a modern-day look at the 10 Guiding Principles to uncover the uniqueness of the current population of impaired drivers, evidence-based practices, and informed case management.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the 10 Guiding Principles and how they can be applied in 2023.
  • Determine what impact the current state of impaired driving and demographics of impaired drivers has on the model.
  • Identify strategies within each guiding principle and how those strategies can be applied in a DWI court and other models of treatment courts.

Program Crash: How to Revive Your DWI Court

DWI courts face significant challenges, such as team member turnover, drift from best practices, and low productivity. If these issues aren’t addressed early and by the entire team, the DWI court will likely crash. Self-reflection is difficult. Asking for help is difficult. Change is difficult. However, if your team recognizes the need for improvement and is willing to come together to implement change to the program, your DWI court can be revived. This session will explore the challenges that cause a DWI court to crash, how to minimize the program’s crash risk, and how to revive the program if it does crash.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the signs of complacency and program stagnation.
  • Identify methods to assess the program and tools needed to mediate change.
  • Understand how to prioritize needs and create a revival plan.

Evaluating Your Program

Course Topics

Evaluation 101 for Treatment Court Researchers: What to Collect and How to Measure It

Is your treatment court an effective program? Is the program reaching its goals? How do you know? In this climate of scarce public resources, monitoring and evaluation can help treatment court programs demonstrate their worth to internal and external stakeholders. Regular review of program operations and outcomes can also help improve the quality of your program. This session breaks down the major evaluation components, including what information to collect, tips for collecting data, how to develop good comparison groups, and methods for analyzing recidivism and costs.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the standards for a treatment court evaluation
  • Learn the key data to collect
  • Learn valid recidivism analysis

Evaluation Boot Camp: Preparing Your Treatment Court for Outside Evaluation

Is your court ready to undergo formal evaluation? What will you gain from an evaluation? This session describes recommended procedures for conducting process, outcome, and cost evaluations of treatment courts. It outlines key data and information needed to conduct the different types of evaluation and presents potential resources to fund evaluation. Treatment court teams considering an evaluation will be able to assess the feasibility of having an evaluation conducted on their court and ways to prepare for a future evaluation.

Learning Objectives

  • Differentiate between process, outcome, and cost evaluations of treatment courts in terms of their purpose and methods used
  • Describe key data sources, the elements necessary for evaluation, and strategies to begin collecting data or enhance existing data collection practices
  • Identify various funding opportunities to support the evaluation of your treatment court

Evaluation 101 for Non-Research Team Members: What to Collect and How to Use It for Self-Review

Is your treatment court an effective program? Are you reaching your goals for your program? How do you know? In this climate of scarce public resources, monitoring and evaluation can help treatment courts demonstrate their program’s worth to internal and external stakeholders. Regular review of program operations and outcomes can also help improve the quality of your program. This session breaks down the major components of evaluation, including what information to collect, tips for collecting data, and how you can use the information to perform a self-review of your program, no previous evaluation experience required.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the basics of program evaluation and its importance
  • Understand what data your treatment court program should collect
  • Understand how you can use your data to monitor your program’s progres

Recovery Support

Course Topics

Building a Strong Recovery Through Work With the Family

This session will provide an opportunity to learn the value of incorporating family therapy into substance use treatment and how it may provide a stronger recovery.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn to distinguish between family psychoeducation, family integration, and family therapy
  • Understand the value of incorporating family therapy into substance use treatment

Importance of Relationships in Recovery

This presentation will educate participants on the importance of replacing unhealthy relationships with healthy support networks in recovery. Furthermore, it will describe the dangers of a group-think mentality and the dynamics it can bring to recovery and criminal behavior, resulting in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making process to maintain psychological homeostasis.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn the importance of social groups and how they can affect recovery and criminal behavior
  • Learn what happens when a group-think mentality engages and the effects it can have on moral reasoning and motivation

Recovery Capital and Integrated Case Management

While substance use treatment is critical in the treatment court model, what other elements are important to bring about long-term recovery for clients? Over the past two decades, research has found that individuals with strong concentrations of personal, social, and community capital are more likely to sustain long-term recovery. But what exactly does this mean, and how do we operationalize this in the treatment court model? This session will introduce participants to the concept and definition of recovery capital.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the research findings on the importance of assessing and building personal, social, and community capital to strengthen long-term recovery – long past the exit from treatment
  • Learn to move these concepts into practice throughout your program, specifically focusing on applying the recovery capital framework in staffing and case management

Recovery Management: Helping People Move from Active Addiction to Lasting Recovery

Recovery is more than abstinence. Recovery is more than remission. Recovery is a process of change through which individuals achieve remission from substance use disorder (SUD), improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Research demonstrates that recovery is not only possible, it’s probable. Most people living with SUD will eventually achieve stable, long-term recovery. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same likelihood of moving from addiction to recovery. This session will explore the critical steps in achieving stable recovery, the factors that differentiate those who recover from those who do not, and how treatment courts can help.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the essence and characteristics of addiction and recovery
  • Learn the five essential steps that anyone seeking recovery must accomplish
  • Learn that a person’s capacity for stable recovery is measurable and can be improved through effective treatment and recovery management

Recurrence Prevention and Response in Treatment Courts

Recurrence of substance use disorder (SUD) is a persistent yet manageable risk in recovery. Managing this risk requires the concerted efforts of everyone on the treatment court team and others in the recovery community. This session will examine the prevailing views regarding the recurrence of SUD and the multidimensional aspects of effective recurrence prevention planning and programming. It will share essential information on managing the single greatest and most common danger in the immediate aftermath of a recurrence—the abstinence violation effect.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how recurrence of SUD differs clinically significantly from continued or resumed use
  • Understand the essential components of successful recurrence prevention planning and programming
  • Learn how to effectively reduce the risk of recurrence and minimize the harms of recurrence if it occurs

Roles in Treatment Court

Course Topics

Building and Maintaining Your Team

This session first focuses on effectively gaining the support of critical justice and treatment system stakeholders and enlisting their participation as active team members, including the judiciary, district attorney/prosecutor, public defender/defense bar, community supervision, law enforcement, and community treatment providers. It then covers sustaining participation through effective team communication, collaboration, and training.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define your program’s mission and goals to explain them effectively to stakeholders
  • Learn to market the importance of participation by each stakeholder to gain buy-in
  • Establish the initial expectations and responsibilities of each stakeholder
  • Ensure sustainability through team wellness and education

Role of Law Enforcement: Part 1

This session is designed to educate law enforcement officers on treatment court programs and the role law enforcement plays on the treatment court team. Law enforcement officers will better understand treatment courts, collaborations, and interactions with team members and participants. Law enforcement officers will learn the core knowledge, skills, and information necessary to be effective as part of the treatment court team. Course modules will educate you on developing your role as a member of a treatment court team or your capacity to support safer communities through community engagement with the treatment court program in your jurisdiction.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase understanding of law enforcement’s role in identifying target populations to refer to local treatment court programs
  • Identify decision points along the Sequential Intercept Model where law enforcement plays a vital role in identification, referral services, diversionary resources, recovery capital needs, and treatment court referrals
  • Build collaborations between law enforcement and the local treatment court program

Treatment Providers Working Effectively With the Team

This session focuses on the role of the treatment provider on the treatment court team. It will examine various issues, including confidentiality, effective treatment approaches, the importance of medications for addiction treatment (MAT), potential conflicts, dealing with recurrence of substance use disorder, and more. The discussion will help treatment providers work effectively within the treatment court setting while providing the best care to their patients.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand team roles, including the role and responsibilities of the treatment provider
  • Learn best practices for treatment providers
  • Review the importance of MAT in working with treatment court participants

Who’s Behind the Curtain: How Coordinators Instill Change in Treatment Courts

Coordinators, do you ever feel alone or as though no one knows what you do? Welcome to the world of treatment court coordinators and the many hats we wear to ensure everything works correctly. This session will explore the coordinator’s critical tasks and how you can use your position to instill change.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the core functions of the coordinator role
  • Recognize the role data play in decision making
  • Explore techniques and processes to instill change

Multidisciplinary Teams: Know Your Role

This session outlines the basic concepts of team development. It offers interactive exercises to demonstrate ways to handle team issues, such as transition and conflict management.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the elements of effective teamwork and different teamwork models
  • Understand new perspectives on effective teamwork and dynamics within your team

Prosecutor in Treatment Courts

Prosecutors play an important role in treatment courts and take on responsibilities that differ from those found in traditional criminal courts while maintaining the duty to protect public safety. In a traditional court of law, the prosecutor is tasked with seeking justice by convicting those who have violated the law. In treatment courts, prosecutors are expected to use a therapeutic approach, with a willingness to work with others on the court team and to support the mission and goals of the program. Effective treatment court prosecutors are skilled in the core competencies of this unique role and are proactive team members in and outside of court.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how a prosecutor can work proactively on a treatment court team
  • Learn the core competencies for a prosecutor participating in a treatment court
  • Understand the importance of employing a therapeutic approach in seeking justice through the treatment court program

Prosecutor in Veterans Treatment Courts

Prosecutors in veterans treatment courts (VTCs) are part of strong, interdisciplinary teams dedicated to serving the justice-involved veteran population. Due to the unique characteristics of this population, it is incumbent on the prosecutor to understand issues common to VTC participants, including substance use disorder, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma. The prosecutor must also be familiar with the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans justice outreach specialists (VJOs), and the veteran mentor component. This knowledge is required for the prosecutor to assist the team with assessing eligibility, determining appropriate responses to client behavior, and addressing the unique needs of justice-involved veterans.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the unique characteristics of the justice-involved veteran population and how psychological injuries can lead to veterans’ involvement in the justice system
  • Learn the importance of understanding military culture, substance use disorder, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma
  • Learn the core competencies for a VTC prosecutor


Course Topics

Importance of Self-Care

This session will educate on the importance of self-care in the treatment court field and the steps to preserve mental and physical health. You will discover the importance of self-care, which can help boost self-esteem and produce a more productive work environment and work product. This session will teach you how to speak up for yourself and explain why your self-care needs are important.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the warning signs of stress
  • Learn self-care techniques and strategies

Professional Self-Care and Compassion Fatigue

This session recognizes that working in certain professions or job situations can bring high stress levels. Sometimes, these stressors can lead to burnout, vicarious trauma, or compassion fatigue. This workshop will clarify these terms so you can use them appropriately and will discuss the importance of being actively involved in self-care so your workplace or work team can build resiliency.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the distinction and connection between burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma
  • Learn how compassion fatigue in some professions can be more likely and, therefore, the importance of building resiliency
  • Gain knowledge of how the workplace can assist in relieving compassion fatigue and building resiliency
  • Identify possible barriers to self-care
  • Identify at least one self-care method you can realistically put into practice

Trauma Awareness and Resilience Strategies for Work and Life

Our work comes with tremendous stress, trauma, and pressure. Each day, we serve struggling people and are exposed to tremendous amounts of trauma, sadness, and dysfunction. At the same time, we face structural and systemic challenges around safety and security, funding, technological change, and a list that goes on and on. Do you ever ask yourself whether you are going to survive this work? Do you wonder if you can continue to rise to the challenge, get everything done, and stay engaged? This session will help you understand what prolonged stress and trauma exposure do to us and our teams. It will also explore research-based practices and solutions to meet these challenges and achieve ongoing health, satisfaction, and performance. We can survive and even thrive by focusing on and implementing mindful resilience strategies.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the impact of stress, trauma, and constant pressure in our work on ourselves and our participants/clients
  • Identify and begin planning how to implement clear strategies and workable solutions for improving health, performance, and resilience as people and organizations
  • Learn ideas and strategies to lead our teams to be more mindfully effective, better prepared, and positioned to respond to the changes and challenges that will surely keep coming

Working Wounded: Preventing and Managing Professional Impairment

This session explores the frequently overlooked issue of impairment and burnout in helping professionals. All of us seek to balance the stresses and strains of our private lives with the need to perform effectively at work. Even in tough times most of us are able to “pull it together” long enough to get through our day. However, there are times when issues such as excessive duties, divorce, disease, substance use, depression, or other dysfunction rob us of our ability to do our jobs and/or find joy in doing so. Whether the problem results from an acute incident or is a chronic problem that has reached the breaking point, the consequences can be life- and livelihood-threatening. This session is essential for those who fear they may be impaired, want to know the warning signs of impairment, want to know how to avoid becoming impaired, or want to know how best to support coworkers or loved ones who are struggling.

Learning Objectives

  • Know the warning signs of professional impairment and burnout and learn prevention strategies
  • Understand the impairment continuum and most common manifestations and causes of impairment
  • Develop strategies for coping with impairment to facilitate a return to full fitness for duty

Specialized Populations

Course Topics

Gender-Responsive Programming

Historically, treatment programs treat men and women together, often providing the same services. Research shows that treatment needs for women differ from those of men and are often more complex. Research also shows that women participating in gender-specific programs have improved outcomes. A promising emerging practice addressing the specific gender needs of treatment court participants includes gender-specific treatment court programming.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the unique needs and issues women face
  • Learn the key components for building programming around women’s strengths and competencies
  • Recognize the importance of developing programs that approach the treatment needs of women using a comprehensive and holistic strategy

LGBTQ Population in Treatment Court

The Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards stipulate that those who have historically experienced sustained discrimination or reduced social opportunities because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, religion, or socioeconomic status receive the same opportunities as others. This session will explore how to determine if, on average, all participants, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, have an equal opportunity to participate in and succeed in treatment court. It will help practitioners ensure equivalent access, retention, treatment, incentives and sanctions, and dispositions, and stress the importance of providing team training on race, ethnicity, culture, and diversity and becoming a culturally competent and responsive program.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify indicators of racial disparities in your court program
  • Describe model strategies and approaches for improving participation and outcomes for racial and ethnic groups
  • Apply the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards to serve historically disadvantaged groups

Promising Practices From the Field to Enhance Equity and Inclusion in Treatment Courts

For the last two-and-a-half years, day-long equity and inclusion workshops have been conducted with treatment court teams around the country. During those workshops, teams examined their access process to identify potential sources of bias in who gets referred. They also used a social marketing perspective to better understand how participants perceive and experience their programs. Armed with these insights, teams created action plans to address uncovered issues. Since then, they have made both large and small changes that have increased access and retention of Black and Hispanic/Latino populations in their programs. This session will describe those changes.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn strategies (changing exclusionary criteria, examining data in new ways, dialoguing about implicit bias, etc.) to minimize subjective aspects of the referral
  • Hear ways to enhance your program offerings (through culturally appealing support networks, career development activities, new tracks, etc.) to make them more appealing to people of color
  • Learn how programs use social marketing concepts to bring greater voice to participants, create materials highlighting program benefits, and conduct effective outreach to communities of color

Stigma and Recovery-Oriented Language

When entering a treatment court program, participants face multiple stigmas, including the stigma of drug use, addiction, criminal justice involvement, and, if treated with medication for addiction treatment (MAT), receiving medication. Stigma comes from other participants, treatment court team members, friends, family, and the community. One of the ways we can address this stigma directly is through the use of nonstigmatizing language. This session will address the use of recovery-oriented language in our daily work, identify stigmatizing language and recovery-oriented alternatives, and practice using teach-backs.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define stigma
  • Identify at least three different kinds of stigmas
  • Identify at least four common treatment court terms or phrases that are stigmatizing and recovery-oriented alternatives
  • Define person-first language.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use recovery-oriented language when talking about MAT

Substance Use Treatment

Course Topics

Addiction and Psychopharmacology

This session outlines the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain. It discusses the most recent research in the area and stresses the importance and effectiveness of treatment to combat addiction.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the short- and long-term neurological effects of alcohol and drug use and their implications for treatment
  • Evaluate how to apply current research findings to alcohol and drug treatment
  • Recognize the short- and long-term general effects of alcohol and other drug use on brain physiology and behavior
  • Learn the difference between use, misuse, and dependence/addiction, and develop appropriate and attainable expectations for offenders in your treatment court program

Developing Effective Treatment Plans for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders

Persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are found in all treatment court types. Substance use disorder is the most common and clinically significant comorbid disorder among adults with severe mental illness. It is estimated that 70-74% of persons in the justice system are affected by co-occurring disorders. Effective treatment planning is critical to positive outcomes in treatment and court case planning.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the necessity of matching treatment approaches to the individual
  • Recognize the necessity of providing a comprehensive continuum of treatment and ancillary services
  • Learn the complex interactions between flexible treatment and case planning while following the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards

Developing the Treatment Continuum

This session discusses the importance of treatment to the treatment court model. Further, it describes the various treatment approaches and methods for clients in treatment court. It also discusses the various ways to continue treatment after an individual commences from treatment court and the importance of continuing care to maintain a recovery lifestyle.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize clinical treatment services as the primary function of the treatment court model
  • Learn the blending of primary clinical services with criminal justice case processing
  • Define good treatment and its components
  • Identify the major characteristics and advantages of standard treatment approaches
  • Recognize the necessity of matching treatment approaches to the individual
  • Recognize the necessity of providing a comprehensive continuum of treatment and ancillary services
  • Recognize the necessity of providing continuing care after discharge from treatment court

Identifying and Understanding Common Mental Health Disorders in Treatment Court

This presentation will address the dynamics of common co-occurring disorders often related to a substance use disorder. Furthermore, it will describe common behaviors that occur with mental health disorders and the different therapies used to treat those behaviors.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn patterns of behavior that are common with certain mental health disorders
  • Learn different types of therapies commonly used for mental health disorders
  • Learn the dynamics of co-occurring mental health disorders

Improving Engagement in Treatment

This session will look at how to address the lack of engagement in or resistance to treatment.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to look at treatment resistance through lenses of opportunity
  • Learn the value of creating a treatment alliance to reduce resistance
  • Learn the importance of motivation and that motivation looks different for different people

Medications for Addiction Treatment

This session is recommended for full treatment court teams interested in learning about medications for addiction treatment (MAT) and specifically medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), as well as how to incorporate the use of FDA-approved medications into their programs. Opioid use disorder has quickly become a national crisis as communities see the number of deaths from drug overdoses overtake those from car accidents. Research has shown that using MOUD, in combination with treatment for substance use disorder, is effective and can help people sustain recovery.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the biological basis for substance use disorders
  • Identify the goals for treatment
  • Know the medications currently approved by the FDA for treating opioid use disorder
  • Learn the key indications and contraindications for medications used to treat opioid use disorder
  • Recognize how physicians decide on treatment changes and reduce the risk of medication diversion

The Importance of Manualized Treatment

Since the beginning of treatment courts, treatment has been embedded in the fabric that clothes treatment court participants in the wardrobe of sobriety and recovery. Team members who are not treatment-focused or specific often view treatment as an abyss or unknown and are unfamiliar with what happens in treatment settings. Treatment providers entering a multidisciplinary team whose members come from unfamiliar backgrounds are often uncertain about how to effectively carry out the actions needed to help participants change their behaviors. This session discusses evidence-based treatment (EBT) and the importance of using manualized treatment in court. It will also emphasize the importance of maintaining fidelity to the model of the curricula incorporated into your programs to see positive outcomes and change.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the concept of EBT and the use of manualized treatment in treatment courts
  • Identify some EBT curricula recommended for your target population
  • Discuss fidelity and how to maintain it in your treatment court setting


Course Topics

Gaining an Understanding of Trauma

This session will provide a general overview of trauma and its impact on a person’s life and level of functioning. You will leave with a better understanding of screening tools and interventions currently used to support those struggling with trauma.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how trauma is defined
  • Learn the different categories and types of trauma and their impact
  • Identify screening tools commonly used to identify trauma
  • Identify evidence-based treatment for people with trauma

Trauma-Informed Practices in a Court Setting

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) GAINS Center has developed training for justice professionals to raise awareness about trauma and its effects titled, “How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses.”

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase understanding and awareness of the impact of trauma
  • Develop trauma-informed responses
  • Provide strategies for developing and implementing trauma-informed policies

Beyond Trauma-Informed Care: Becoming a Trauma-Informed Court

This session is specifically designed for judges as the primary audience. The content and accompanying teaching tools focus specifically on judges and other court professionals. Topics include defining trauma; the extent of trauma in justice-involved individuals; the impact of trauma on substance use, mental health, and behavior; secondary/vicarious trauma; and steps for becoming a trauma-informed court. In addition, evidence-based screening tools, assessments, and treatments are discussed. This session is interactive and participatory, with time for questions and problem-solving.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn what trauma is and why it is an important component of treatment court programs
  • Learn how pervasive trauma is in justice-involved persons, especially people with substance use and mental health disorders
  • Identify steps courts can take to become trauma-informed, including incorporating evidence-based trauma screening, assessment, and treatment to improve outcomes

Improving Criminal Justice Responses: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Although prevalence estimates vary, there is consensus that high percentages of justice-involved women and men have experienced serious trauma throughout their lifetime. The reverberating effects of traumatic experiences can challenge a person’s capacity for recovery and pose significant barriers to accessing services, often resulting in an increased risk of coming into contact with the justice system. Trauma-informed criminal justice responses can help avoid retraumatizing individuals, thereby increasing safety for all, decreasing recidivism, and promoting and supporting the recovery of justice-involved women and men with serious mental illness. Partnerships across systems can also help link individuals to trauma-informed services and treatment.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase understanding of trauma
  • Create an awareness of the impact of trauma on behavior
  • Develop trauma-informed responses

Secondary Trauma and Its Effects on Team Members

Many individuals involved in substance use and criminal activity have a history of trauma that have shaped much of their behavior and interactions with others. Research indicates that 66% of adults and over 70% of youth in substance use treatment have a history of trauma. Trauma-informed care has become a standard of practice across the nation. Understanding the impact of trauma is critical to effective intervention with the treatment court population. Secondary trauma impacts caregivers and others working with trauma victims. Secondary trauma can result in burnout, transference, and various health issues for caregivers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop an understanding of the impact of stress and trauma on the body, brain, and behavior
  • Learn basic trauma-informed care techniques, including awareness, safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment
  • Develop an understanding of the impact of secondary trauma, including compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma
  • Identify strategies for effectively dealing with secondary trauma

Other Topics in Treatment Court

Course Topics

Carrying the Weight: The Impact of Fines and Fees on Participants

Treatment courts often impose fines, fees, and other financial obligations as a condition of program completion. Other financial obligations may be imposed by statute or administrative requirements, such as supervision fees. This session will highlight the current state of research in regard to the imposition and collection of fines and fees in treatment court programs and how they impact issues of equity and inclusion as well as program completion and other outcomes. It will also focus on the importance of ability-to-pay determinations and other alternatives that may reduce the negative impact on outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn relevant research on the imposition and collection of treatment court fines and fees.
  • Understand the outcome-based impact of the collection of fines and fees.
  • Identify options and alternatives for treatment courts to consider to reduce any negative impact on outcomes and decrease inequities in program completion rates.

Law School 101: Constitutional Law for Treatment Court Professionals

The law is a tool for success and should not be viewed as an obstacle. Treatment court professionals must comprehensively understand what the law will and will not allow. Learn firsthand how to face challenges relating to ethics, HIPAA, confidentiality, due process, 12-step programs, and other constitutional requirements.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize constitutional and due process issues that affect treatment court programs
  • Identify how federal confidentiality regulations are applied in the treatment court setting
  • Recognize ethics laws that influence team member roles in the treatment court process

Risk and Need: Implementing Multiple Tracks in Your Treatment Court

Research has indicated that the treatment court model has the largest impact on high-risk/high-need participants. What about those at other risk and need levels? Does treatment court work for them? What happens to those defendants if they aren’t eligible for treatment court? This session describes the latest research on the benefits of creating multiple tracks in your treatment court. It also covers why and how you should assess for risk and need and discusses how to practically implement different tracks in your program, along with lessons learned by others in the process.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn risk and need and the importance of good assessments
  • Gain awareness of the latest research on programs with multiple tracks and the benefits of separating participants at different risk and need levels
  • Learn the key steps in creating multiple tracks in your treatment court

Going From Silos to Working Together: Exploring What Team-Building is All About

A healthy treatment court team is every judge’s and coordinator’s dream, but how do you get to it, and how do you know when your team is struggling? This session will identify key concepts in group dynamics and group-forming essential in building a healthy treatment court team. You will take away team-building exercises and tips to increase your treatment court team’s cohesion.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the role team dynamics play in how a group functions
  • Learn and practice team-building exercises
  • Identify the stages of the group process and how to move your team from one stage to the next

Coping With the Death of a Participant

The 12 months ending in May 2020 represented the largest number of drug overdose deaths in a single year in our history. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a worsening overdose crisis, disruption of treatment services and recovery support has left individuals increasingly isolated and removed critical coping systems and supports. Taken together, these data point to the inevitability that your court will experience at least one overdose fatality among your participants. This session discusses the need to respond to this crisis in a coordinated, comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate manner. Employing a prevention-focused, public health approach, it covers communitywide prevention efforts, overdose education, response strategies, and various coping responses to employ following an overdose death. Several recommendations and resources will be provided, and there will be time for questions and answers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the nature and extent of the current drug overdose crisis, including some of the key factors responsible
  • Learn and become familiar with prevention-focused, public health approaches to reducing drug overdose deaths
  • Learn ways you and your teams can incorporate specific overdose prevention components into your interventions

Developing a Participant Handbook

The purpose of the participant handbook is to provide treatment court participants with a clear understanding of the requirements and expectations of the program. It should be easy to understand, visually appealing, and written in an accessible and understandable manner. The session will help treatment court teams analyze your existing handbook for reading level and design accessibility, use online tools to address reading level, and develop a plan to turn your participant handbook into a useful educational tool for participants. The session’s goal is to help team members understand what is needed in a helpful, accessible participant handbook so that it is useful for treatment court participants.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define treatment court literacy regarding your written participant handbook
  • Recognize at least three changes to your participant handbook that would make it more useful to participants
  • Demonstrate the ability to determine the literacy level of your participant handbook
  • Identify three key characteristics that help determine th

Emerging Drug Trends

Designer drugs are not new but represent an emergent threat to court practitioners. Drugs often appear under new names, with new use trends and new control challenges, and detection methods and laws often lag behind. This session discusses the emergence of new designer drugs, such as new synthetic cannabinoids and psychoactive substances, and describes what’s coming next. Due to limited drug detection options, a designer drug used by court clients can result in continued addiction hidden from court scrutiny. This presentation provides facts about these drugs, including their origin, chemical composition, physical effects, detection, and legal efforts to ban their sale.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain fundamental knowledge about designer drugs
  • Learn the history and development of designer drugs
  • Describe the two major categories of current designer drugs and how they differ
  • Illustrate knowledge regarding approaches to controlling designer drugs in your court

Risk/Need Assessments Versus Clinical Assessments

You’ve heard and read that treatment courts are most effective with high-risk/high-need participants. With that said, many obstacles can impact our ability to get a client into treatment court. One reason may be ineffective screening and assessment processes. For a treatment court program to effectively identify and help treat a participant, to know that the participant meets the program criteria, and to know that the treatment selected worked (or is working), it must first engage in a risk assessment and a clinical assessment of the client. Risk assessments inform decisions throughout the criminal justice process; clinical assessments inform treatment decisions throughout the treatment continuum. This session explores the differences in criminogenic risk screening and assessment tools and the need for comprehensive clinical evaluations.

Learning Objectives

  • Define what a screening tool is and how it differs from assessment tools
  • Learn which tools work best and support access for diverse populations
  • Learn the importance of clinical assessments and reassessments

Team Member Ethics

This session facilitates a dialogue on the sometimes-conflicting ethical obligations of treatment court team members and tries to reach a consensus on how best to handle ethical variations in treatment court team member obligations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the sometimes-conflicting ethical obligations of treatment court team members
  • Demonstrate tolerance and support for those team members with differing ethical obligations
  • Understand that ethical variances can strengthen the team

Harm Reduction Practices in Treatment Court: What Works and What Doesn’t

This session examines the origins and contemporary applications of harm reduction and explores harm reduction strategies for the treatment court population. National experts, practitioners, and program graduates offer perspectives on the implications of specific harm reduction practices on treatment, supervision, and recovery.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop a fuller understanding of the historical context of harm reduction and its present-day applications
  • Understand which harm reduction practices align with best practice standards for treatment courts
  • Identify harm reduction strategies that apply to the high-risk/high-need treatment court population

The Future of Treatment Courts

Treatment courts are the most effective justice system innovation in the last 30 years. Dozens of evaluations have shown that treatment courts reduce recidivism, save lives, strengthen families, and save money. Despite their unparalleled success, however, treatment courts are facing challenges. First, a shifting legal and cultural landscape is prompting reformers to turn to earlier off-ramps from the justice system, like prearrest models and prosecutor-led diversion. Second, too many treatment courts struggle to adhere to best practices. This session offers recommendations for building on the success of treatment courts, adapting the model to changing times, and harmonizing treatment courts with emerging justice reform models.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the major justice reform trends that may affect treatment courts
  • Understand common criticisms of the treatment court model
  • Select one or more recommended practices for strengthening your treatment court

Compassionate Communication and Engagement With Families in Treatment Courts

Recognizing when a family needs support is important, but whether they get what they need is often impacted by how we as service providers and court officers communicate with them. Effective family engagement occurs when justice practitioners actively partner with the family network, including maternal and paternal relatives and other family members, throughout their involvement with the court or the child welfare system. This session discusses compassionate strategies and communication techniques proven to be successful in engaging families. Participants will be challenged to see parents and involved family members as the experts in their own lives.

Learning Objectives:

  • Provide a working definition of family engagement
  • Recognize barriers to effective communication with families
  • Describe compassionate, effective ways to communicate and engage with families

Building a Strong Recovery Community in Rural Areas

Recovery is a person-driven process with many pathways to health. This session explores the importance of a recovery community and looks at existing recovery support structures in your community.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore the factors that drive recovery care
  • Learn about the Hub and Spoke Model of Integrated Health Systems
  • Understand the role recovery housing plays in building a community

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