Through the Education Lens

How Chicago's BAM (Becoming a Man) program works

SMW, May 1, 2014 8:37 PM


" . . . teaching patients (ed note: students) to identify thought patterns
that contribute to depression, anxiety, and so forth,
so that they can work to replace them with healthier patterns."

Participants had 44% less violent crime arrests

With school counseling budgets being cut and with more mental health and aggressive behavior in schools, one only can wonder why the paradox. We talk about academic performance while increasing counselors' student load (averaging now hundreds of students per counselor in typical schools).
This is why we especially take pleasure sharing recent findings about the BAM program
via VOX. President Obama has taken notice as reported in the video below.

"BAM consists of weekly hour-long sessions with groups of no more than 15 high school boys (the average instructor-student ratio is 1 to 8). It's not therapy in the strictest of senses, but the overall approach is borrowed from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has overtaken more Freudian approaches in recent decades among practitioners and has a large research base demonstrating its effectiveness:"

"CBT is all about teaching meta-cognition: thinking about thinking. In a pure therapy setting, that means teaching patients to identify thought patterns that contribute to depression, anxiety, and so forth, so that they can work to replace them with healthier patterns. For example, a common negative thought pattern is catastrophizing, or exaggerating the importance of a short-term negative event in a way that causes undue distress and overreaction; if you've ever gotten a small piece of negative feedback from your boss and within a few minutes started worrying that you're about to get fired, that's catastrophizing in action.

BAM is interested in tackling catastrophizing, but of a very particular sort. The operating theory is that living in distressed and dangerous neighborhoods leads teen boys to adopt certain behaviors automatically that are totally rational and adaptive in that context, but fail them in an academic setting."

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