Criminal Offending & Deficits in Social Cognition, Empathy, & Theory of Mind


SKU: LD - 189 Category:


We know that appropriate social, emotional, and physical development from birth is essential to a healthy and fulfilling existence. But did you know that those who exhibit criminal offending behaviors are shown to have disproportionately inadequate social functioning? This makes both nature and nurture so important in the upbringing of a human being. Lack of successful social development is indeed a contributing factor to the capacity to commit crimes later in life.

Social cognition is an umbrella term that includes several processes that are important for the understanding, perceiving, and representation of social information and behavior. Empathy is the ability to recognize and comprehend the feelings and experiences of someone else. Critical in the manifestation of prosocial behavior, empathy is typically divided into the subcomponents of cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Theory of mind is the capacity to recognize and comprehend the mental states (i.e., beliefs, motivations, thoughts, feelings, misconceptions, presumptions, and desires) to oneself as well as other individuals. Theory of mind also supports social competence, including emotion regulation, empathy, moral reasoning, play, positive social skills, competent peer interactions, and positive classroom and group behavior. When deficits arise in any of these areas, this may increase one’s risk of engaging in criminal offending behavior.

Intended for professionals, this training is designed to increase understanding of the causes, consequences, and implications these topics have on criminal offending behavior. Interviewing, screening, intervention approaches will also be discussed in this training. Related topics discussed during this training will include antisocial behaviors, criminal recidivism, neonatal imitation, joint attention, moral development, prenatal and postnatal trauma, attachment disorders, affective recognition, oxytocin, self-control deficits, mentalization, emotional and social intelligence, recognition of facial expressions, perspective taking, pragmatic language skills, executive dysfunction and metacognitive deficits, alexithymia, trauma and other life adversities, comorbid psychopathology, substance use, special needs population, and socioemotional processing weaknesses to name a few. Empirically based research findings will be discussed throughout this training.


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This training will provide participants clinical knowledge and tools to:

a). Define social cognition, empathy, and theory of mind (ToM) and other related constructs as well as review empirically-based research findings.

b). Learn and understand the building blocks and various dimensions associated with these social deficits and their relationship to criminal offending behavior.

c). Identify red flag indicators, warning signs, and consequences associated with these social deficits.

d). Learn and recognize how deficits in the area of social cognition, empathy, and theory of mind can contribute to criminal offending behavior.

e). Learn and practice interviewing, screening, and intervention approaches to address criminal offending behaviors and related social deficits.


Target Audience:

Mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers, drug and alcohol counselors, marriage and family therapists, telehealth treatment professionals, and other clinical mental health professionals.


Instructional Level: Intermediate

Instructor(s): Jerrod Brown, PhD, MA, MS, MS, MS

Material Author(s): Jerrod Brown, PhD, MA, MS, MS, MS

Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., M.A., M.S., M.S., M.S., is a professor, trainer, researcher, and consultant with multiple years of experience teaching collegiate courses. Jerrod is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS). Jerrod has also provided consultation services to a number of caregivers, professionals, and organizations pertaining to topics related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), confabulation, suggestibility, trauma and other life adversities, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and youth firesetting. Jerrod has completed four separate master’s degree programs and holds graduate certificates in Neuropsychology, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), and Traumatic-Brain Injuries (TBI). Jerrod has also conducted over 200 workshops, webinars, and on-demand trainings for various organizations and professional and student audiences. In 2021, Jerrod completed a post-doctoral certificate in Leadership and Organizational Strategy from Walden University and a Professional Certificate in Forensic Psychology from San Diego State University Global Campus. Currently, Jerrod is pursuing a graduate certificate in Neuroscience and the Law from Michigan State University. Jerrod has published several articles and book chapters, and recently, co-edited the book Forensic Mental Health: A Source Guide for Professionals (Brown & Weinkauf, 2018) with Erv Weinkauf. Jerrod is also regularly featured on several national and international podcast programs. Email:

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