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Why Does Step-Up Work?

Step-Up is a specialized program that focuses solely on stopping violent and abusive behavior. Keeping the focus on behavior change and teaching skills to help make the changes, along with the expectation that they can do it, helps teens succeed.

Youth who come to group quickly learn that behavior change is expected and possible. They meet other youth who have been attending group who have made behavior changes; they listen to them, or their parent, talk about how they are handling things differently now, along with observing their effort in the group. Getting to know other youth that are struggling with the same behavior issues and observing their efforts to change motivates a newcomer to begin the process of his or her own behavior change.


Self-awareness of behavior is a keystone of the program and is the first step in change. Step-Up helps youth pay attention to their behavior every day and report to group about how they were abusive and respectful to their family members (seeKeystone of Step-Up Curriculum: Abuse and Respect Wheels). Each week they make a personal goal about a specific behavior they will work on to help them stay respectful and non-violent during the next week. Reporting back to the group promotes accountability and the opportunity for positive feedback from group members. Youth learn skills each week to help them succeed in meeting their goals of non-violence and respect.


Parents learn how to keep family members safe, how to effectively respond when their teen is violent or abusive, along with skills to support their youth in using respectful behaviors. Parents gain skills that help them re-establish authority with their teen and promote mutual respect and problem solving.

Step-Up believes that youth are more capable of change when their counseling is focused on specific behavior changes that are consistently addressed every week. Youth are also more successful when their parent or caregiver is involved in their learning.