Precision, Accountability, Connection, K-9s

 

Introduction

Prevention Concepts & Solutions provides services and supports for veterans, first responders, and others (e.g., returning citizens) in our communities. For years, our organization has worked, through various channels, in our efforts to assist these populations. Through our experience, education, and research, we discovered that in many instances, traditional, treatment approaches, alone, were not successful in mitigating symptoms related to mental, emotional, and/or physical health. Working from this contextual understanding, our organization developed alternative approaches in addressing one’s health and wellness goals. From a holistic perspective, and in reference to one’s hierarchy of needs, we have created a program that synthesizes resiliency and recovery processes; by combining Canine-Assisted Therapy and Activities with Mental Fitness Training, we have developed a unique health and wellness model. 

 

Problem – Need

Veterans and First Responders face unique risks due to their service and sacrifice (including psychological, physical, and cognitive injuries related to dangerous and high-stress situations), which can lead to mental health, substance use, and trauma-related issues, as well as relationship difficulties and financial hardships (Gallegos, Streltzov, & Stecker, 2016). In order to encourage hope and healing, and improve one’s quality of life, the most basic of needs—physical and mental health—must be addressed systematically and holistically. Both intuitively and empirically, the most effective way to address these needs is to provide an environment in which transformational goals can be reached and symmetry and equanimity can be revived. 

 

Program Description

Prevention Concepts’ PACK (Precision, Accountability, Connection, and K-9s) program provides comprehensive and coordinated services and supports for veterans, first responders, and returning citizens. The three-day-a-week, 90-day program focuses on goal-/achievement-oriented approaches to satisfying one’s motivation of needs, improving one’s quality of life, and fortifying one’s mental fitness. We accomplish this through a unique blend of educational and experiential endeavors in which program participants have opportunities to build resiliency and shape recovery through our Mental-Fitness and Canine-Assisted matrices, while working side-by-side with canine trainers and handlers (current and retired law enforcement, military veterans, and civilian trainers), recovery and mental fitness coaches, and peer mentors; These frameworks provide pragmatic, person- centered approaches to working with veterans, first responders and returning citizens.  Upon entering the program, participants will partake in a multidimensional assessment process in which mutually agreed upon goals and targets of change will be identified and goal-attainment steps will be determined and codified (i.e., signed agreements). After the initial assessment, based on the participant’s unique needs, the care team will coordinate services and supports— both in program and with partner organizations; this process will be transparent and participatory. *In-program services and supports that are available to all program participants:

✓ Canine-Assisted Therapies and Activities

✓ Mental Fitness Education and Training

✓ Recovery & Mental Fitness Coaches

✓ Peer Mentors

✓ Canine Trainers & Handlers

✓ Clinical Psychologist

✓  Social Workers

 

Goals

➢ Improve quality of life evidenced by ICECAP-A score (baseline, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year)

➢ Improve Mental Fitness evidenced by FAST score (baseline, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year)

➢ Raise, train and donate 30 dogs a year to Veterans, Police Depts., and therapy providers

 

Objectives

✓ Increase self and environmental awareness

✓ Develop positive beliefs and attitudes about self and the world

✓ Strengthen abilities to cope with stress

✓ Improve decision-making and problem-solving skills

✓ Improve interpersonal and social engagement skills

✓ Create a culture of personal accountability and responsibility

✓ Leverage the human-canine bond to motivate change and achieve goals

✓ Leverage the human-canine bond to create energy and excitement around recovery

✓ Leverage the human-canine bond enhance life and reintegration skills

✓ Introduce therapy dogs to community institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals, retirement communities, etc.)

 

Methods and Activities

All the methods and activities below are designed to have a positive impact on eight critical domains related to quality of life:

  1. Emotional well-being – contentment, self-concept, lack of stress
  2. Interpersonal relations – interactions, relationships, family, supports
  3. Material well-being – financial status, employment, housing
  4. Personal development – education, personal competence, self-efficacy
  5. Physical well-being – health and health care, activities of daily living, exercise
  6. Self-determination – autonomy / personal control, personal goals, choices
  7. Social inclusion – community integration and participation, roles, supports
  8. Rights – legal, human (respect, dignity, equality)

 

Canine-Assisted Therapy & Activities

As a therapeutic approach, animal-assisted activities & therapies have many well-documented benefits for those struggling with substance abuse, mental health and trauma-related issues:

  • Decreases stress
  • Provides motivation for treatment
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Increases focus and attention
  • Provides unconditional support
  • Improves communication and social skills
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Elevates mood levels
  • Reduces loneliness and isolation

(Carper, Bartone, & Petty, 2016; Brooks, Rushton, Lovell, Bee, Walker, Grant, & Rogers, 2018).

 

Mental Fitness

This intervention, Mental Fitness, is a comprehensive system based on science as well as sound philosophical and psychological principles.  The program was written by Dr. Bryce Lefever, a Board Certified Clinical Psychologist, a 27-year veteran of the United States Navy and a retired Captain.   Mental Fitness is a systematic education and therapy program that focuses on relationship improvement, character development and responsible decision-making.  Practicing the skills that lead to mental health is as important as practicing physical skills leading to physical fitness.  Mental Fitness is a significant barrier to preventing mental illness from occurring as well as a gateway to living a better, more fulfilling life.  There is no health without mental health.  

Tenets of Mental Fitness

  1. Responsibility – becoming owners & authors of one’s life through empowerment-driven choices and directions.
  2. Vulnerability/Intimacy – making choice, over time, to reveal oneself to selected, trusted, people in one’s life; these choices lead to intimacy.
  3. Boundaries – identifying and setting healthy boundaries through recognition and distinction between oneself and others and between healthy and unhealthy choices.
  4. Self-Esteem – exploring negative and self-destructive beliefs about self that lead to harmful or undesirable thoughts and behaviors – replacing old and developing new thought and behavior patterns that are rooted in self-acceptance, self-respect, self-love, and self-worth.
  5. Communication – developing interpersonal skills and conveyance mechanisms for handling conflict, overcoming problems, expressing feelings, and negotiating for what one wants and needs.
  6. Commitment – a promise to act on a worthy goal within the context of acknowledging one is truly worthy and deserving of attaining these desired outcomes. Continued Commitment & Service

 

Continued Commitment & Service

We have an open-door policy! All program participants, whether they graduated or not, are always welcome and encouraged to join us for additional training and coaching (at no cost) and/or to just hang out. For those who have the passion and talent, there are both volunteer and paid opportunities to join our team as mentors and trainers. 

 

Please contact us to discuss your treatment options