Cornerstones of Success

Kaizen is a specialized residential program that works with adolescent young men who are struggling with sexual behavior problems. These are complex issues, and families know all too well that the stakes are high. Fortunately, national statistics indicate that with the successful completion of treatment, approximately 95% of these boys do not return to these maladjusted behaviors, and can reintegrate into healthy living.

But what does “successful treatment” actually entail?

In terms of the outward behavior, success means managing the risk and creating plans built around healthy living. In more clinical terminology, success involves establishing and/or bolstering individual and contextual protective factors, while reducing or eliminating personal and contextual risk factors.

In more popular terms, it comes down to the individualized development of four crucial cornerstones: developing a strong sense of self, understanding the importance of – and establishing – healthy relationships, developing competency in transferable skills, and appropriate reintegration into the community.

Strong Sense of Self

Much of our work at Kaizen is centered on exploring, understanding, and refining each young man’s sense of self – his conceptualization of his identity, self-awareness, and overall worth. Often, a young man arrives at Kaizen dealing with profound struggles of shame and a destructive self-concept. In order to truly facilitate healing and long-term hope, we recognize that it starts from within.

The foundation of our entire program is based on attachment theory, which at its core is a powerful reminder that each of us is worthy of love and belonging.

Our belief is that “we are not our diagnoses” and our past does not define us. Through traditional therapies (individual, family, and group therapy), coupled with adventure-based experiences, these boys can begin to see the value of others as the recognize it within themselves.

Healthy Relationships

Adolescents with sexual behavior problems have an incomplete and/or misguided view of normal, healthy relationships – or at least are uncertain about how to maintain them. They also often fail to see the ripple effect of one aspect of life (behavior, emotions, etc.) onto another, sometimes not understanding the relational consequences of their actions. And yet, each of them simply yearns to feel deeply loved, highly valued, and securely connected.

With its relationship-based approach, and its emphasis on family involvement, Kaizen recognizes that future success depends upon learning how to interact with others in healthy ways. Programmatically, we strive to model healthy interactions, and facilitate relationship skills development (communication, problem-solving, empathy, team work, etc.).

Transferable Skills

Another critical element of success after treatment is the ability to generalize skills from one environment to another. Of course, we want each young man in the program to do really well here. But, of course, what matters most is doing really well outside of here. This requires the ability to utilize healthy coping strategies, open and respectful communication methods, problem-solving skills, and the like beyond the structure of residential treatment.

An important part of the program also entails learning healthy recreational skills. Prior to treatment, many of our boys fell into patterns of isolation, withdrawal, and secrecy.

Some may have looked “happily engaged” on the surface, but internally were struggling with destructive habits and a lack of healthy creativity.

An important part of Kaizen is the adventure program, designed to introduce or reignite interest in healthy, pro-social recreation.

Mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding, kayaking, fishing, rappelling, paintballing, hiking – these kinds of activities engage young men in a multi-sensory way, providing not only healthy outlets, but can help establish new coping mechanisms. Neurologically, “what fires together wires together,” and introducing alternate neuropathways through wholesome activity may provide long-term options for healthier living. It’s also not accident that the adventure program is instrumental in developing the first two cornerstones – strong sense of self and healthy relationships – as well.

Community Integration

The ultimate goal for these young men is, in some form or another, to return to their homes and families and become productive members of society, positively contributing to the well-being of others. This requires opportunities to integrate into the community with the appropriate balance of supervision.

At Kaizen, community integration involves a variety of community activities, depending upon each young man’s preparation. There are weekly activities that most of the boys can participate in. These are supervised outings that include bowling, skating, going to the movies, local restaurants, etc.

There are also opportunities for service projects, extended visits with parents, home visits, and other opportunities to demonstrate healthy integration.

For older adolescents facing young adulthood, there are also opportunities to experience more responsibilities within the community, such as working at a part-time job.

Finally, this integration into the community entails establishing a realistic and highly supported transition plan. Moving from the structure of a residential treatment center back into the home and/or community is a massive step. Depending on the young man and his family situation, the transition plan can take many forms. An important element of the latter phases of treatment will focus on developing and practicing a viable transition plan.