Social skills training for juvenile delinquents: post-treatment changes

Trudy van der Stouwe*, Jessica J. Asscher, Machteld Hoeve, Peter H. van der Laan, Geert Jan J M Stams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To examine the post-treatment effectiveness of an outpatient, individual social skills training for juvenile delinquents in the Netherlands and to conduct moderator tests for age, gender, ethnicity, and risk of reoffending. Methods: The sample consisted of juveniles who received Tools4U, a social skills training with a parental component, as a penal sanction (N = 115). Propensity score matching was used to select a control group of juveniles receiving treatment as usual (TAU) of n = 108 juveniles (of a total of N = 354). Assessment of impulsivity, social perspective-taking, social problem-solving, critical reasoning, developmental task-related skills, and treatment integrity took place before and immediately after the treatment. Results: Treatment integrity was found to be sufficient, so that treatment effects could be attributed to the Tools4U training. Tools4U was more effective than TAU in reducing impulsivity, cognitive distortions (self-centering and assuming the worst), and social perspective-taking deficits (hostile intent attribution). No treatment effects were found on adolescents’ social problem-solving skills, and only caretakers of girls showed improvement in parenting skills. Effects on developmental task-related skills were not in the expected direction: after Tools4U, juveniles reported significantly less social acceptance and self-worth than juveniles receiving TAU. Conclusions: Tools4U showed generally small effects and no effects on protective factors, which might limit the long-term treatment effects on delinquency. Treatment effects may be improved by implementing additional techniques and improving the parental component for boys in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-536
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Effectiveness
  • Juvenile delinquents
  • Parenting
  • Social skills training
  • Treatment integrity


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