You have probably heard the term, “DUI School.” DUI Programs in California are not schools, they are treatment programs. A schools primary focus is on education, instilling knowledge. Take for example, traffic school; designed only to educate the participant in traffic regulations.
Sheldon Zhang, Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, states that schools educate by providing certain types of knowledge, individuals accumulate information that may increase their understanding or insight into certain aspects of human life or societal issues.Such knowledge gain is not required to produce or lead to any specific behavioral changes.While there are expectations what our students should or ought to become in the future, whether they will meet such expectations are typically not the concern of the educators.
Zhang points out four key points that DUI programs are a treatment more than just education.
1. These programs have a clear intention to exert influence over behavioral changes–to bring about changes.
2. Most, if not all, programs are cognitive-behavioral in orientation–focusing on identifying problematic thinking patterns and habits and recognition of risk behaviors or coping mechanisms so that ideal or “proper” response behavior can be formed.
3. Engage in activities (group and individual or peer counseling) that are main stake in mental health treatment community.
4. Clients are sanctioned into the programs for reasons of conduct/behavioral problems (not for lack of knowledge).
Zhang has closely reviewed the Safety Center DUI Program Curriculum and has observed its implementation in San Diego County. He states, “ [Safety Center Curriculum] follows the mainstream Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach commonly found in counseling psychology, which emphasizes the recognition and awareness of one’s substance use problems and following specific prescriptions of behavioral modifications that aim at recognizing stress-provoking events and coping skills.”
The Safety Center Curriculum reflects the cumulative clinical experiences and practical knowledge over the decades from its counselors and clinical supervisors. Zhang further states it should be pointed out that the Safety Center curriculum and clinical practices have been consistently applied across all its DUI program sites in three counties (Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Yolo) as well as the PC-1000 program in Stanislaus County to achieve consistency in the intervention approach. The curriculum has also gained wider acceptance by other DUI program providers in California and other states.
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