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Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families

Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services

The Seven Challenges

What is The Seven Challenges?

The Seven Challenges is a holistic, comprehensive counseling program for youth and young adults that incorporates work on drug problems, co-occurring problems and for remediating life skill deficits. Seven Challenges includes a health-decision making, cognitive/emotional, empowering model that guides youth through the process of weighing the benefits versus the harm of their drug use, and other behaviors. It supports them in making their own informed decisions, following through on their decisions, and then evaluating their own progress. 7 Challenges was developed by Dr. Robert Schwebel, Ph.D who spent a lot of time listening to young people and talking with those who had been successful in either preventing serious drug problems or overcoming drug problems. He found that the one thing they all had in common was that they challenged themselves, and each other to think clearly about their lives and their drug use. That’s why the program is called “The Seven Challenges.”

Upon admission to Ferris, all students receive a comprehensive substance abuse evaluation. Based on this assessment, those students identified as having a diagnosable substance use disorder will be referred to Seven Challenges. Once the referral has been completed, the student will meet individually with the Substance Abuse Program Administrator who orient them to the program, which includes expectations and requirements. The resident is then assigned to a group facilitator.

Once assigned to a facilitator students will attend group treatment. In addition to group treatment they will also receive individual counseling, including journal writing. The Treatment Specialists at Ferris will continue to meet with these students on a weekly basis. Just as with “Core Programming” at Ferris, Seven Challenges participation is required. Upon transition to Mowlds Cottage, they will continue to participate in substance abuse treatment.

Who may not be appropriate for Seven Challenges?

Those residents who are not appropriate for group counseling will receive individualized programming, i.e. lower intellectual functioning.


Please note that participation in the program, including information about any progress being made, is confidential in compliance with 42 CFR part 2.