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.
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.
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.
The focus of counseling during this period primarily continues to support cadets through individual and group 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. The responsibility for the transportation and other considerations remain with the parent or guardian. Candidates and cadets who are already being treated by their hometown physician are strongly encouraged to continue with it 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.
Sessions are conducted as needed to target and resolve issues relative to interpersonal problems. These sessions focus on retention of cadets in the program by facilitation and coaching using the group or a variation of the group process. The counselor specifically strives to resolve the problem through mediation and conflict resolution strategies.
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, post YCA. The admission criteria and the differences in Junior and Senior College are explained, as well as the role of Technical Colleges. The purpose of Job Corps, apprenticeships, and the benefits and qualifications for military service are also explored in detail.
The counseling staff conducts character development presentations during life skills class. Character development activities emphasize topics and subjects to instill the importance of developing personal discipline to choose the harder right over the easier wrong in our everyday lives. Additionally, during non-training periods on weekends, selected movies may be used to covey a moral, ethical, and virtuous message.
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.