The Seven Challenges
The Seven Challenges is a counseling program designed specifically for adolescent youth to simultaneously address drug problems as well as their co-occurring psychological problems and life-skill deficits. Recognizing that when young people come into drug counseling, they are usually in the early stages of change – unprepared and often resistant to making a sincere decision to quit – the program aims to “start where youth are,” not where we adults wish they might be, or where young people often pretend to be – ready, willing and prepared to immediately abstain.
Although the program strategy includes capturing any sincere impulse to quit, counselors avert power struggles and insincere commitments to change by striving for honesty and engagement instead of the “mad rush for abstinence.” We want youth to see their counselors as problem-solving partners – helping them successfully cope with life rather than as people who are trying to control their lives and make them behave in certain ways. We help young people make their own informed decisions, and then succeed in implementing the changes they desire.
More on the Seven ChallengesAlthough the program provides a structure for group sessions and a framework for working with individuals, the content of sessions is not pre-scripted and is exceptionally flexible. Session content is driven by relevancy to youth. A unique feature of the program is that counselors teach youth how to “work” in counseling sessions – that is identify and address the issues that are most pressing to them. Counselors also pay attention to client needs, and bring up topics or activities that seem relevant at any given session. In the Seven Challenges, we do not fit the youth into the program; rather, we wrap the program around youth.
Furthermore, the various Challenges are not the center of discussion. Discussion revolves around the most relevant issues and counselors “make the Seven Challenges part of the discussion,” by helping youth see the relationship between a particular topic and one or more of the Challenges. The Challenges can be found at www.sevenchallenges.com.
Another central feature of the Seven Challenges is the materials. The Seven Challenges Manual is used by counselors as a learning tool and reference book. The Seven Challenges reader represents the point of view of youth who have had drug problems, and the set of nine Seven Challenges Journals are used for Supportive Journaling®. Youth write in the Journals, and their counselor writes back using a skill-set taught during Seven Challenges training. Manual, Journal and Reader samples can be found at www.sevenchallenges.com.
The treatment was designed for flexible use: group or individual format; male and female clients; and a variety of settings, from example, outpatient, inpatient and residential.
Seeking Safety focuses on coping skills and psychoeducation and has five key principles:
- Safety as the overarching goal – helping clients attain safety in their relationships, thinking, behavior and emotions
- Integrated treatment – working on both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse at the same time
- A focus on ideals to counteract the loss of ideals in both PTSD and substance abuse
- Four content areas: cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal and case management
- Attention to clinician processes – helping clinicians work on countertransference, self-care and other issues
For more information about Seeking Safety, see: