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Elements uses the proprietary Seven Challenges approach to address all levels of drug or alcohol involvement—from experimentation to daily abuse. We have found this approach particularly useful in dealing with substance abuse because it does not depend upon “hitting rock bottom,” it is not shame-based, and it can work with any level of abuse. It can also be used in a complementary fashion with other more traditional chemical dependency treatments. Because the majority of young adults struggling with emotional and behavioral issues have engaged in some form of substance abuse, the Seven Challenges is a central aspect of our programming and is useful for both treatment and prevention.

The Seven Challenges is listed as an evidence-based program in the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. The Seven Challenges received a perfect score in the “Readiness for Dissemination” category, with the review stating:

“Clear, logically organized, and comprehensive materials are provided to support implementers, supervisors, and administrators. The Program materials, trainings, ongoing support and monitoring work effectively to ensure a successful implementation.”

The Seven Challenges that form the basis of our wilderness therapy program are:

  • Challenge #1: We decided to open up and talk honestly about ourselves and about alcohol and other drugs.
  • Challenge #2: We looked at what we liked about alcohol and other drugs, and why we were using them.
  • Challenge #3: We looked at our use of alcohol or other drugs to see if it has caused harm or could cause harm.
  • Challenge #4: We looked at our responsibility and the responsibility of others for our problems.
  • Challenge #5: We thought about where we seemed to be headed, where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to accomplish.
  • Challenge #6: We made thoughtful decisions about our lives and about our use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Challenge #7: We followed through on our decisions about our lives and drug use. If we saw problems, we went back to earlier challenges and mastered them.

Seven Challenges for Screens

Elements Clinical Team members Dr. Neal Christensen and Tara Stireman joined Seven Challenges author, Dr. Robert Schwebel to write an adaptation program of the original Seven Challenges as it relates specifically to screens and digital media overuse.  

Elements has been piloting the program and journals since 2021. Watch for additional information about this program to be released by the Seven Challenges® in the future.

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