Using Proven Strategies

Raven's Way Standards of Care

The Raven's Way (Yéil Jeeyáx) program includes elements which are considered "best" or "most effective" practices for adolescents in substance abuse treatment.

These best practices include:

  • the creation of a therapeutic community;
  • use of the Twelve Steps, adapted for adolescents;
  • use of motivational interviewing;
  • appropriate consequences and skill building;
  • integrated treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues;
  • use of appropriate medication, when needed;
  • strengthening protective factors or assets; and
  • creating an environment of empathy and hope.

Creating a therapeutic community

The therapeutic community is created in a family style environment with a small number of clients/students (10 per course), and close relationships with staff which develop in wilderness as well as home-like settings. Staff members are trained to meet the students at their level of motivation, to use motivational interviewing to help them move forward, and to establish empathy and hope for the students. It is understood that adolescents often have mixed feelings about giving up alcohol and drugs, and need to be able to talk honestly about the pros and cons of using.

Problem-solving, communication and relapse prevention skills are taught and practiced. Students experience natural consequences for poor planning or negative peer interaction through real life experiences in the wilderness and peer feedback. Life and self-care skills are practiced on a daily basis.

Building strengths

The Raven's Way program focuses on building strengths and therefore uses the empowerment-oriented, "New Version of the Twelve Steps," (PDF 83kb) which was written by David Berenson with key words for each step identified by White Bison Inc., in "The Red Road to Wellbriety in the Native American Way." The first six steps are incorporated into the six weeks of treatment at Raven's Way. (See handout, Acrobat Reader required)

Treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues is considered a most effective practice. This is integrated at Raven's Way. Many students have issues of depression, attention deficit, post-traumatic stress, conduct and other problems, in addition to their substance abuse. Those who need medication for these problems may receive a psychiatric consultation with possible medication if the student, their parents and the treatment team believe this is appropriate.

Using proven strategies improves results

These effective practices also are important in work with Native American/Alaska Native populations, emphasizing empowerment, a positive focus, motivational interventions, harm reduction, and creation of a safe, empathic and culturally sensitive environment.

The effectiveness of these approaches is seen in the positive outcomes reported by Raven's Way graduates.


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