Back in 1997, when Karen Monroe started working as a therapist at Valley Springs Youth Ranch in Black, Missouri, she quickly encountered a roadblock.
“I didn’t have any resources that were kid-friendly,” said Karen, who had previously been a counselor for adults with substance use problems.
Soon after, Karen said, she discovered The Change Companies®, which has Interactive Journals designed for youth intervention and treatment. Currently, Karen is using the Keep It Direct and Simple series with her clients at Valley Springs Youth Ranch.
“What I found in using the materials is they are kid-friendly,” said Karen, noting that many of her clients lack language skills and have trouble focusing. “It gives them a plan. With these kids, they need small steps to learn. They can learn, but they’re slow at it, so they need these Journals.”
Designed for adolescents in behavioral health and addiction treatment programs, the Keep It Direct and Simple Journals teach participants the tools and skills to make meaningful, lasting change in their lives. The program helps participants explore the problems that brought them into treatment and uses a non-judgmental focus on positive, strength-based strategies.
“It moves them through a process that becomes a pattern and helps them begin to understand what’s causing their problems.”
“It gives them comprehension and a pattern of thinking, which they don’t come in (to treatment) with,” she continued. “The information circles around to pick up little bits of what you’ve started to explore with the kids, so it becomes more of a whole picture. And it ties back to what they are thinking, feeling and behavior is. That kind of learning is what our kids need.”
The 10 Journals help adolescents weigh the costs of alcohol and drug use, accept their feelings, determine what healthy relationships look like and explore common problem-inducing thoughts, among other concepts.
Karen said the structure and appearance of the Keep It Direct and Simple Journals — from the clarity of information on a topic to the creative graphics illustrating behavior change — is pivotal in helping her clients at Valley Springs Youth Ranch effectively work their way through the material.
“It moves them through a process that becomes a pattern and helps them begin to understand what’s causing their problems — repeated behaviors and attitudes,” Karen said. “They need a way to try to understand that. We’ve got to teach them that, and these Journals help us teach those connections. It turns behavior change into something that’s doable.”