Structured skill-building a core component in GEO Reentry programs

To help participants develop the pro-social behaviors they need to make positive, healthy decisions in their everyday lives and meet their individual goals, GEO Reentry staff work with participants on structured skill-building.

Building behavioral and practical skills through concrete steps ensures that participants not only learn, but retain necessary skills as they develop the critical tools they need for use in their lives following completion of our programs.

To help participants develop behavioral skills, staff first introduce the skill and explain its importance. For example, participants are taught how to problem solve without resorting to anger. They are reminded that the importance of effective problem-solving lies in avoiding unnecessary conflict and peacefully reaching a resolution without the need for violence or hurtful words. Since many participants come to our centers after having faced negative consequences that resulted from poor problem-solving, this is an area many can find particularly helpful.

Once participants understand the importance of a skill, staff model or demonstrate the skill for participants. Staff members may act out how to resolve problems with someone else using effective conflict-resolution strategies such as active listening and thinking about consequences before acting or speaking.

After participants have observed staff demonstrating the skill, participants practice the skill in a group setting. Providing participants comfortable group settings where they can practice skills, learn from others and draw motivation from their peers, ensures they feel confident when it comes time to practice the skills on their own. Additionally, when participants practice behavioral skills in a group setting, they have the chance to receive valuable feedback from their peers as well as staff. This feedback serves as a form of encouragement and positive reinforcement.

Once they’ve practiced the skill multiple times with their peers, participants are asked to practice the skill outside of group settings. After doing so, they have the chance to discuss the experience with their group and individually with their case manager or counselor. Depending on how the experience was, participants may reflect on what went well and why, or they may need to continue to practice the skill so they can better use it in the future.

Oftentimes, participants’ negative behaviors are caused by a skill deficit. Learning pro-social responses to high-risk situations prepares participants for successful reentry.

To read more about our reentry programming, click one on of our following services: non-residential reentry, in-prison treatment, residential reentry.