The Seven Challenges is designed to treat adolescents with drug and other behavioral problems. Rather than using pre-structured sessions, counselors and clients identify the most important issues at the moment and discuss these issues while the counselor seamlessly integrates a set of concepts called the seven challenges into the conversation.
The challenges include:
- Talking honestly about themselves and about alcohol and other drugs
- Looking at what they like about alcohol and other drugs and why they are using them
- Looking at the impact of drugs and alcohol on their lives
- Looking at their responsibility and the responsibility of others for their problems
- Thinking about where they are headed, where they want to go, and what they want to accomplish
- Making thoughtful decisions about their lives and their use of alcohol and other drugs
- Following through on those decisions
These concepts are woven into counseling to help youth make decisions and follow through on them. Skills training, problem solving, and sometimes family participation are integrated into sessions that address drug problems, co-occurring problems, and life skills deficits.
The Seven Challenges reader, a book of experiences told from the perspective of adolescents who have been successful in overcoming problems, is used by clients to generate ideas and inspiration related to their own lives. In addition to participating in counseling sessions, youth write in a set of nine Seven Challenges Journals, and counselors and youth engage in a written process called cooperative journaling. The program is flexible and can be implemented in an array of settings, including inpatient, outpatient, home-based, juvenile justice, day treatment, and school. The number, length, and frequency of sessions depend on the setting. Counselors with various levels of experience in working with mental health and substance abuse problems are trained in program implementation.