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



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