New York Focus on Youth and Families Grant
In February 2017, our clinical team became part of the New York Focus on Youth and Families Grant. This grant includes a total of six adolescent substance abuse agencies, and aims to utilize a new treatment model in an effort to reduce adolescent substance use. Staff was trained to deliver the 7 Challenges program, an evidence-based program, developed by Robert Schwebel, PhD in 1991, which is now being adopted by substance use treatment providers across the nation. 7 Challenges is a model which looks at substance use in a different light than most other models. In 7 Challenges, clinical staff act as decision-making partners with adolescents to assist them in making informed, thoughtful decisions about their lives. 7 Challenges understands that substance use in adolescents is often more than the result of peer influences or home environment, but instead, a multitude of factors play a part in an adolescent’s decision to engage in substance use. Most prominently, 7 Challenges acknowledges that while substance use is not encouraged, it does in fact offer some benefits to the adolescent that he/she struggles with obtaining elsewhere. Some of these benefits include stress reduction, anger management, anxiety relief, social acceptance, and the like. In the 7 Challenges program, youth are encouraged to examine the issues in their lives and choose a specific issue to work on during each session. “Work” may include gaining insight, receiving feedback, or making a decision. Adolescents consider all of the factors in their lives and are provided helpful, supportive, and challenging feedback by not only their clinicians but also their peers to ultimately make well-developed and thoughtful decisions.
The HFY clinical team began implementing the 7 Challenges model in February. We currently provide 7 Challenges treatment in four groups weekly as well as individual sessions. In June, our clinical director and the project coordinator were certified as 7 Challenges Leaders, which allows us to provide in-house staff training. To date, HFY has been exceedingly successful in reaching our target enrollment numbers for this grant. For the calendar year 2017, our target enrollment was 28 youth. Our actual enrollment was 30 youth, making us the only agency of the six to not only meet, but surpass our target enrollment numbers. We have seen in our sessions that the 7 Challenges model allows the youth to take more control over their lives, and therefore become more engaged in treatment. Although there are always some clients who might push back, it has been apparent that the majority of our youth are accepting of and benefitting from the 7 Challenges model. As a result, our clinical team is optimistic that the remainder of this grant and further use of 7 Challenges treatment will be successful and beneficial to the population that we serve.
For more information about the 7 Challenges please visit, www.sevenchallenges.com/