Project Resiliency: A Therapeutic Alternate to Suspension
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Suspending young people from school for substance use is unlikely to effectively address the issue, especially if that use has progressed to dependency or addiction, or is related to mental health concerns. The punitive approach has shown little positive effect, yet school policies for substance use infractions and many other problematic behaviours have centered on punishment and discipline, often with no standardized policy for education, or intervention that is supportive or proactive. This paper presents an alternate to suspensions for all “risky behaviours”; a strength based therapeutic intervention that teaches and enhances resiliency. Project Resiliency focuses on control, coping and identity development, within the context of school disengagement, risky-behaviors and life adversities. School district members or community agencies interested in looking at alternative therapeutic approaches for working with at-risk youth would benefit from examining this program. Fundamental goals of the program are to identify student needs and create healthy support systems for the individual, their school and community. Longitudinal goals are to reduce student drop-out rate and risky-behaviors by teaching about healthy coping mechanisms for life’s adversities. This program sends a message that a therapeutic approach, rather than a disciplinary approach, provides long-term positive outcomes for future generations. The following paper provides research and rationale for the programs core goals and developmental targets and an in-depth review of the program’s design.