Youth Challenge Academy Counseling Department

Pre-Challenge Phase

During the Acclimation Period, counselors focus primarily on supporting Cadre operations through assisting candidates with adjustment issues that are interfering with their ability to participate in training and adapting to YCA life and culture.

Crisis Counseling

During Pre-Challenge, counselors extend their hours in order to be readily available for intervention. Upon the request of Cadre, counselors meet with candidates who are experiencing emotional and or behavioral issues which prevent their full participation in training, including home-sickness, culture shock, and willful misconduct. Counselors strive to provide care for candidates to allow them to continue training with their peers by providing emotional coaching and suggesting coping mechanisms to reduce or alleviate stress. Counselors also provide feedback to Cadre staff regarding any and all concerns that may affect the candidate?s ability to complete program requirements and activities.

Candidate Assessments

Although Challenge is voluntary, it does not work for everyone. Even those who initially undertake the requirements for completion are not always fully prepared for the rigors. When candidates face possible dismissal from the program, counselors provide invaluable input into the decision-making process. Candidates are referred to the counselor when they begin to experience notable coping issues or an unwillingness to comply with the rules. The counselor seeks to understand the candidate?s unique challenges and long term chance for success, including the individual?s ability to handle stress, the military structure, and mental commitment to program completion.

Acclimation Phase

During the acclimation phase, counselors focus primarily on supporting Cadre operations through assisting candidates with adjustment issues that are interfering with their ability to participate in training and adapting to YCA life and culture. During the acclimation phase, counselors extend their hours in order to be readily available for intervention. Upon the request of Cadre, counselors meet with candidates who are experiencing emotional and or behavioral issues which prevent their full participation in training, including home-sickness, culture shock, and willful misconduct. Counselors strive to provide care for candidates to allow them to continue training with their peers by providing emotional coaching and suggesting coping mechanisms to reduce or alleviate stress. Counselors also provide feedback to Cadre staff regarding any and all concerns that may affect the candidate?s ability to complete program requirements and activities.

Individual Counseling

Psychotherapy is not provided by the YCA counseling staff. Supportive counseling services are done to help cadets with issues like: anger, grief, and stress management. Additionally, problem solving, emotional management, and conflict resolution strategies are taught during individual sessions, in a group process, and in the classroom as a component of the academy's life skills curriculum.

Mental health services are limited to crisis intervention only. Continuing and/or ongoing treatment and medical care for pre-existing mental conditions are not authorized. Counselors may, however, refer cadets to a mental health professional, or an agency that provides such services. Candidates and cadets who are already being treated by their hometown physician are strongly encouraged to continue with it while in the program. Candidates and Cadets are encouraged to continue taking any prescribed medications while in the program. Parents should continue to make regularly scheduled return appointments as needed. Every effort must be made to obtain an appointment date that coincides with regularly scheduled passes.

Group Classes

Classes are conducted as needed to target and resolve issues relative to interpersonal problems. The classes focus on the retention of cadets in the program by using the group or a variation of the group process. The counselor specifically strives to resolve the problem through mediation and conflict resolution strategies.

Guidance Counseling

Another key area of support provided to cadets is vocational/career counseling. The counseling staff assists cadets with answering this important question: What are you going to do after you graduate? Counselors conduct individual guidance and classroom presentations to inform cadets on the various career and educational opportunities available to them after graduation.

The Counseling Department is here to serve by helping cadets maximize the benefits of Youth Challenge Academy and they do it with pride and professionalism.

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