About The Seven Challenges

Our History

The Seven Challenges was developed by Robert Schwebel, Ph.D., who remains actively involved with clinical and implementation aspects of the Program.

In 1991, Dr. Schwebel began developing what soon became known as The Seven Challenges, while he was counseling adolescents in a residential treatment center and an intensive outpatient setting. From the beginning, Dr. Schwebel firmly believed that a substance abuse counseling program for adolescents must be developmentally appropriate; based upon psychological research and science; and holistic - that is, addressing substance abuse issues as well as co-occurring problems and life skills deficits. 

Unlike many evidence based programs, The Seven Challenges was not funded by federal grant money and was not developed by an academic at a university.  However, the Program generated considerable interest and caught the attention of someone from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in Washington, D.C.  The Seven Challenges was rolled into CSAT funded research projects as a comparison program. As positive outcomes were demonstrated, word of the Program's success spread further. The Seven Challenges is now used across the United States in a wide array of services, including in residential, intensive outpatient, school and home-based settings.

From the beginning, Dr. Schwebel firmly believed that a substance abuse counseling program for adolescents must be [...] addressing substance abuse issues as well as co-occurring problems and life skills deficits.

Dr. Schwebel did not develop The Seven Challenges with the goal or expectation that it would become a nationally recognized program. As the reputation of the program grew and demands for implementation snowballed, much attention in recent years has been devoted to understanding and improving the implementation process. New processes and materials were developed to provide the training, support and monitoring to help organizations sustain The Seven Challenges for the long run. In order to support hundreds of organizations in their efforts to implement and sustain The Seven Challenges program, Robert Schwebel leads a small but mighty team!

Sharon Conner became the Director of Program Services for The Seven Challenges in early 2005. She assists organizations during their process of determining whether the Program is a good fit for their setting and if it is, then assists with arrangements for successful implementation. Sharon also coordinates the licensing, training, and ongoing support process.

About Dr. Schwebel

Robert Schwebel, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in couples and family issues and in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, provides lectures and training sessions to professional and community audiences. He has developed and directed prevention and counseling programs for schools as well as public and private agencies. He has published numerous articles and is the author of several books including Saying No Is Not Enough; Keep Your Kids Tobacco-Free; and Who's on Top, Who's on Bottom: How Couples Can Learn to Share Power. Regularly called for comments and interviews by the national and local press, Dr. Schwebel has appeared on The Oprah Show, The Today Show, numerous CNN interviews, and The CBS Early Show. Robert and his wife live in Tucson, Arizona and thoroughly enjoy when their two adult sons come to visit.

The Seven Challenges

Improves client engagement with holistic counseling, balancing work on drug and other problems.

Helps clients identify and clarify their own issues and concerns and understand them in the context of life circumstances.

Promotes mindful self-awareness and teaches decision-making skills.

Increases emotional literacy by teaching about trusting & respectful relationships and building resilience in the face of setbacks.

Supports plans for success and individualizes relapse prevention.

Helps clients take power over their lives, including use of alcohol & other drugs.

Counseling without shame, blame or stigma.

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