Brief Challenges


The Seven Challenges – Brief™, also known as "Brief Challenges", is the brief therapy version of The Seven Challenges®.

Brief Challenges is designed for adolescents and young adults who have a known or suspected drug problem, and is used in four individual sessions lasting approximately one hour each. Brief Challenges is designed to serve three functions:

  • Assessment of drug and co-occurring problems
    • Mental health issues, including an understanding of psychological, emotional and situational problems the young person faces
    • Substance abuse problems, including frequency and quantity of use, effect on functioning, motivation for use, level of problem, and awareness of harm from use
  • Brief therapy intervention for drug problems
    • Designed to tap any existing motivation to change and to increase motivation to change
    • Courtesy Relapse Prevention® is introduced to a young person who has an impulse to quit using
  • Support in responding to external pressures for abstinence
    • Discussion of pressure built into each of the four sessions
    • Bolsters young person's attention to pressure
    • Assists in development of effective responses to pressure

These sessions can stand alone or serve as an entry point to more services for youth who may want, or need, to receive additional counseling.

Brief Challenges Process

The four Brief Challenges sessions are always facilitated one on one -- that is, between one counselor and one client. During Brief Challenges sessions, information is gathered in a sequential fashion, with the counselor and the young person working together in The Brief Challenges My Story.  This book incorporates readings from The Seven Challenges, written process extracted from The Seven Challenges Journals and activities from The Seven Challenges Activity Book. The basic skills taught in Brief Challenges are extracted from training for The Seven Challenges® Program.

Training for Counselors

Counselors who will provide Brief Challenges attend two days of training. This training can be facilitated at their agency if there are four or more counselors to be trained and for agencies where there are fewer, options for them to travel to another site for training can be discussed. An agency that will be utilizing Brief Challenges will also have Coaches trained to support the counselors and to train when there is turnover. Coaches will receive extra training and support and they will conduct regular meetings with the Brief Challenges counselors.


The book used with youth during Brief Challenges sessions is called My Story. This book is written in by the client and the counselor throughout the four sessions, and provides a framework for the counseling process. In addition to training and support documents, each counselor will use the Brief Challenges Manual.

The Seven Challenges

We decided to open up and talk honestly about ourselves and about alcohol and other drugs.


We looked at what we liked about alcohol and other drugs, and why we were using them.


We looked at our use of alcohol and other drugs to see if it has caused harm or could cause harm.


We looked at our responsibility and the responsibility of others for our problems.


We thought about where we seemed to be headed, where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to accomplish.


We made thoughtful decisions about our lives and about our use of alcohol and other drugs.


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.

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