New research shows significant positive changes in CICR program

Researchers affiliated with UCLA and RAND Corporation found that our Council for Insight, Compassion & Resilience program for incarcerated participants demonstrated significant positive change in socio-cognitive functioning.

The latest report published in July 2020 revealed pronounced reductions in physical and verbal aggression and PTSD symptomatology, as well as marked increases in social connectedness, mindfulness, perspective-taking, and resilience.

Beyond Us & Them CICR program_prisons.10

History of the CICR program in Prisons

Center for Council first implemented the Council for Insight, Compassion, and Resilience (CICR) program, formerly known as the Inmate Council Program, at Salinas Valley State Prison in October 2013. Since then, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has funded the replication of the CICR at 28 additional prisons in California.

The CICR is a mindfulness-based intervention where inmates meet weekly to facilitate the practice of council. Sometimes referred to as a “listening circle,” council utilizes a center, a circle and a talking piece to create an intentional space in which to share stories.

The practice of deep listening without judgment fosters an atmosphere of respect for oneself and for others and promotes empathy, dissolving barriers to cooperation, understanding and community. The program equips participants with tools for self-awareness and self-regulation, so as to develop accountability for their past behavior and its impact on others, and to support successful re-entry and re-integration into their communities upon release. Findings from a previous outcome evaluation of this program has shown it to be associated with a reduction in anger/aggression and increases in empathy, resilience, and social connectedness among participants who completed the program.

CICR Feedback

In March 2022, Beyond Us & Them/ Center for Council implemented their CICR program at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. The participant feedback about the program in general was overwhelmingly positive.

Specifically, focus group participants mentioned that they have seen positive improvement in the following areas:

  • Communication (especially active listening)
  • Self-expression
  • Empathy
  • Social connection
  • Interpersonal relationships

Participants really appreciated the ability to share freely without feeling judged.

One participant emphasized that this group teaches them how to listen, which he believed was the most important element of this group and what separates this group from the other groups offered at the prison.

Read the full report here:

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Beyond Us and Them team

Beyond Us and Them team

Beyond Us and Them is the leading solution-focused organization providing dynamic and scalable practices to combat the loneliness epidemic and foster social connection.

It creates programs and delivers training for law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, educators, policymakers, and community-based organizations, among other populations and individuals, to cultivate wellness, relationality, compassion, and resilience.