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Methodist Home for Children’s Value-Based Therapeutic Environment (VBTE) Model


Intervention; Ages 11–14


(Read the criteria for these ratings)

Promising gang program

Effective delinquency program


The Methodist Home for Children’s (MHC) Value-Based Therapeutic Environment (VBTE) Model is a nonpunitive treatment model that concentrates on teaching juvenile justice-involved youth about prosocial behaviors as alternatives to antisocial behaviors. The VBTE Model is used in residential juvenile group homes operated by the MHC in North Carolina. The target population is 10- to 18-year-old youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system.

The MHC VBTE Model has five treatment components:

  1. Service planning, which provides a family and community approach to meet the needs of youth and their families
  2. The skills curriculum, which provides staff with a teaching tool and promotes clear expectation and individualization for youth and their families
  3. Learning theory, which promotes the understanding of individual youth and their behavior, which is critical to creating effective motivation systems
  4. Motivation systems, which provide staff with a daily plan that supports the overall service plan, promotes therapeutic interactions, teaches and reinforces skills, and implements principles of the learning theory
  5. Therapeutic (focused) interactions, which provide youth with structured teaching and reinforcement based on each individual’s service plan and learning levels, and incorporates the motivation system that is modified for each youth

The five components are designed to complement one another and concentrate on the treatment and services provided to youth and their families. The success of the VBTE Model relies heavily on the interactions between counselors and adjudicated youth. Counselors teach youth that their behavioral choices are related to six values: respect, responsibility, spirituality, compassion, empowerment, and honesty. Youth begin to appreciate and understand how their behavior affects those around them, and they receive consistent feedback from MHC staff about how to modify these behaviors. In addition, each youth works with a family service specialist who performs needs assessments of the youth and his or her family at admission, prepares the youth for appearances in juvenile court, helps reintegrate the youth with his or her family and school when released, coordinates community services, and assists in the youth’s development of skills and appropriate behavior.

An independent evaluation found that the VBTE Model had significant effects on new charges and convictions for person offenses, although it did not significantly affect charges and convictions for less serious property, drug, and public order offenses. Nearly one in five offenders (19 percent) served in the evaluated program were gang members or associates. VBTE treatment youth also were significantly less likely than control group youth to have a recidivist charge for a person offense. In addition, offenders who received VBTE treatment spent significantly fewer total days incarcerated, compared with control youth, thus producing large cost savings.

Risk Factors

Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)
Early dating/sexual activity/fatherhood
Early onset of aggression/violence
Exposure to firearm violence
Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Lack of guilt and empathy
Life stressors
Low perceived likelihood of being caught
Makes excuses for delinquent behavior (neutralization)
Mental health problems
Physical violence/aggression
Poor refusal skills
Victim of child maltreatment
Victimization and exposure to violence
Violent victimization
Abusive parents
Antisocial parents
Broken home/changes in caretaker
Delinquent siblings
Family history of problem behavior/criminal involvement
Family poverty/low family socioeconomic status
Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)
Having a teenage mother
High parental stress/maternal depression
Lack of orderly and structured activities within the family
Low parental attachment to child/adolescent
Low parental education
Parent proviolent attitudes
Parental use of physical punishment/harsh and/or erratic discipline practices
Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
Poor parent-child relations or communication
Sibling antisocial behavior
Unhappy parents
Frequent school transitions
Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
Identified as learning disabled
Low academic aspirations
Low achievement in school
Low math achievement test scores (males)
Low parent college expectations for child
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Old for grade/repeated a grade
Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
Poor student-teacher relations
Poorly defined rules and expectations for appropriate conduct
Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood
Availability of firearms
Community disorganization
Economic deprivation/poverty/residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
High-crime neighborhood
Low neighborhood attachment
Neighborhood youth in trouble
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Gang membership
Peer alcohol/drug use
Peer rejection


Crimesolutions.gov: Promising program

National Gang Center: Effective program


Mr. Ben Sanders
Vice President, Program Services
Methodist Home for Children
1041 Washington Street
Raleigh, NC 27605
Phone: (919) 833-2834
Mobile: (919) 673-0711
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://www.mhfc.org/who-we-are/model-of-care/


Strom, K. J., Colwell, A., Dawes, D., and Hawkins, S. (2010). Evaluation of the Methodist Home for Children’s Value-Based Therapeutic Environment Model. Research Triangle Park, NC: Research Triangle Institute.

Date Created: April 7, 2021