Life Skills for Gang Intervention Programs
Life skills are critical for a successful gang intervention curriculum.
Such skills range from basic social skills, problem solving skills, and hygiene to getting and keeping a job.
These skills can reduce the risk of relapsing significantly.
The skills and concepts taught here are the basics of a healthy and happy life.
Each lesson comprises a lesson plan with a detailed narrative for the counselor or
teacher, and a handout, worksheet, or other activity for the learners. Designed
to maintain attention and promote active involvement, each hour-long lesson is
based on identified behavioral objectives. At present, over 150 lessons are
available in this series.
||Coping skills for emergencies
||Clients learn to identify their own highest risk situations, the cues that they are becoming at higher risk, what they will do to cope effectively, and then practice these new coping skills until they are confident they will work. Included in these skills are thought stopping, conflict avoidance and "escape" skills, and a comprehensive set of "refusal skills."
||Critical coping skills
||Critical coping skills lessons (thought stopping, thought switching, etc.), including lesson plans, skills practice activities and instructor's scripts.
||Coping skills for relapse prevention, set 1: techniques for use when you are at greatest risk
||Provides guidance and practice in mastery of seven emergency skills - to address areas of temptation to relapse (or to act out anger, etc.). Guides the development of personal action plan for use of immediate measures at highest risk situations.
||Coping skills set 2: establishing a safer environment
||Clients are guided to identify their most dangerous temptations, high risk people, places, things, feelings, and situations. They will identify areas of continued vulnerability to old temptations. Clients will complete action plans to avoid high risk people, places, things, and situations.
||Coping skills, set 3: techniques for handling uncomfortable feelings and thoughts
||Provides guidance in mastery of thirteen coping skills important for relapse prevention.
||Critical coping skills lessons (breathing/relaxation skills), including lesson plans, skills practice activities and instructor's scripts.
||Creative visualization and relaxation
||Critical coping skills lessons (creative visualization and relaxation), including lesson plans, skills practice activities and instructor's scripts.
||Identifying and addressing your highest risks
||Identification of personal highest risk factors with specific coping skills to be used and demonstration of competence (self-efficacy) in addressing risks for relapse. Special emphasis is placed on the transition to the community.
||Managing your stress
||Basic stress management workbook, including self-examination, symptoms awareness, identification of triggers, underlying stressors and lifestyle issues, evaluation of past coping, and introduction to several key coping skills.
||Reducing your risk
||Basic risk reduction workbook, addresses highest risk situations, warning signs, high risk feelings leading to relapse, and provides coping skills guidelines.
Research has shown that problem solving is the critical skill in reducing delinquency. Our Phoenix Curriculum is the primary gang prevention problem solving curriculum nationwide. The Phoenix Curriculum is provided
in multiple versions (Elementary School, Grade 6, Middle School, High School). It's provided in 25- and 50-session versions, and also in Spanish. The objective of this curriculum is the mastery of problem
solving skills in addressing the participants' highest risk factors. These risk factors include high-risk people, high-risk places, high-risk things, and high-risk situations. Each lesson includes a lesson plan and significant opportunities
to practice problem solving skills in high-risk situations. Mastery of these problem solving skills is a key component in self-efficacy against the risk factors that contribute to crime, delinquency, substance abuse, and other problems.
- Problem Solving and Thought Stopping (avoiding impulsive thinking)
- Problem recognition: using cues to warn yourself about trouble
- Problem recognition activities
- What could happen? (consequential thinking)
- What are your choices? (alternative solution thinking)
- Risks and consequences (weighing pros and cons)
- How your decisions affect other people (consequential thinking, sensitivity to other people's feelings)
- Doing the right thing (consequential thinking)
- Making a wise choice (consequential thinking)
- Your values, dreams and goals — as guides to ethical problem solving
- What's important to you? (values activities)
- Dreams and Goals (planning, means-ends thinking)
- What's at the end of your rainbow? (planning, means-ends thinking/sequential planning)
- Making your dreams come true (planning, means-ends thinking)
- When you need help, who will support you? (planning, means-ends thinking)
- Where can I go? What can I do? (planning, means-ends thinking)
The Phoenix Curriculum emphasizes self-efficacy in problem solving—primarily by providing significant practice in addressing issues and problems relating to high risk factors for gang involvement, crime, substance abuse, and related problems.
This program element—the learning and mastery of a problem solving model—has two major sections.
The first section presents a basic three-step problem solving model and provides practice in dealing with specific high risk factors. These risk factors include high risk people, places, things, situations, thoughts, and temptations experienced by young people. While using a basic stop-think-act model, it includes such areas as problem recognition, consequential thinking, alternative solution thinking, weighing pros and cons, sensitivity to other people’s feelings, means-ends thinking, and planning.
A critical skill in problem solving is “thought stopping.” This skill is taught early in this section and is reinforced in many lessons in this curriculum. Individual mastery of this skill is a critical component in self-control, and teachers should use every opportunity to help students practice.
A second section of this problem solving model is the selection of appropriate behavior when dealing with high risk people, places, things, and situations. Building on the stop-think-act model, this part offers three options: avoid, escape, and refuse. Designed to help students develop resistance skills, it emphasizes avoidance as the most effective—and easiest—area, but also provides practice in escape, resistance, and refusal skills.
Through repeated practice situations, students identify their own highest risk factors and the specific skills and steps they will take to successfully handle these situations. In the program, and in the review elements, students will demonstrate repeatedly successful coping with variations on their highest risk situations.
Life skills programs often include interpersonal communication skills curriculums. Our Managing Your Anger curriculum is also part of our Anger, Aggression, and Gang Violence program resources. Each
lesson in this curriculum includes a lesson plan and participant handouts. It is easy to implement and addresses many topics in aggression replacement and communication skills. Gang intervention programs will find this resource useful.
||Basic skills for better communication
||When you need to express a complaint
||Becoming a better listener
||Handling peer pressure
||Learning to be assertive
||Building relationships 1
||Where does your anger come from?
||Building relationships 2
||Where does your anger go?
||The best way to make an apology
||Self control: keeping out of fights
||Assertion communication skills practice
||Self control: when someone accuses you
||Protecting your boundaries
||Self control: when someone tries to provoke you
||Conflict resolution practice
||Self control: when someone is angry at you
||Self control: stressful situations
||Using your "escape" skills
|Handling the Tough Times|
||An introduction to stress management
||Get yourself together
||What is stress doing to you?
||Having a backup plan
||What happened to you?
||Making use of community resources
||What pushes your buttons?
||How have you "coped" in the past?
||Using the serenity prayer
|6, 7, 8
||Living smarter. Living longer
||How to be good to yourself
||How am I doing today?
||Handling difficult situations
||What to do when you are having bad feelings
|Making Good Use of Your Leisure Time|
||Seeking happiness and contentment
||Increasing the joy in your life
||Identifying your needs and wants
||Your most important values
||Making your dreams come true
||Adding balance to your life with new activities
|Managing Your Money|
||Keeping track of everyday spending
||When you need more money
||Becoming money smart
Pathways to Daily Living is a comprehensive life skills curriculum for adults and juveniles
helping them develop skills for daily living. This manual is designed to address
critical life and lifestyle issues. The overall objective is to help participants
improve their general health and happiness as functioning members of society.
This comprehensive life skills manual prepares inmates and clients in probationary programs for life in the outside world. [more]
See our vocational skills page for more details. Program consists of:
- Personal Preparation Program (P3) — Identification of work skills and job options, a positive attitude, thinking realistically about work, practical aspects of finding a job, development of personal data sheet, handling applications, resumes, and interviews, and keeping a job. (10 sessions)
- V1/V2 — Topics include: self-evaluation, job and career values, interviewing practice, job success skills, and ethical issues in the workplace. (10 sessions)