Discovering Better Choices Class Overview
The Discovering Better Choices class from ISAE was developed to help people understand their behavior, why they made the decisions they made, and how to make better decisions in the future. Using behavioral science and through class discussion, ISAE instructors will help class participants understand the skills they need to make changes for the better.
One large influence on decision making, studies show, is the use of drugs and alcohol. In the class, we will discuss the ways in which drug and alcohol use impacts our ability to make healthy decisions. We will also discuss the other ways that experts have identified as major drivers of criminal behavior, like a negative social environment, adverse childhood experiences, and biological risk factors.
Learn more about the Discovering Better Choices class below or sign up for the class nearest you today!
Topics Covered in the ISAE Discovering Better Choices Class
Ethics and Values Clarification — Values are a person's judgment of what is important in life, from how to behave to what their goals are. In the discovering better choices class, we work together to understand why understanding our values clearly by determining why values are important: values determine how we perceive situations and our goals and outcomes in life.
We make decisions that align with our personal values. To make better decisions, we need the right values. After the discussion on values, the class completes a worksheet in which we identify our current values and which values were in conflict based on the situation that led to needing to take the discovering better choices class. Lastly, we complete an activity that reinforces selecting values first before making decisions that go against them.
Influence examination — An influence is something or someone that consciously or unconsciously affects your thoughts, feelings, and/or actions. For example, the behavior of your parents influences your own current and future behavior in similar situations. Our attitudes are an established predisposition about something or someone that we then see come out in our behavior. Influences form our attitudes, which results in our behaving in a certain way. The discovering better choices class will spend time examining the ways in which how our influences can hurt us or help us in our efforts to make better decisions. ISAE focuses on choices and consequences; we are free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choice.
We then discuss how decisions have a Ripple Effect not only with ourselves but also with others. The class will complete a worksheet called The Ripple Effect where participants write how the Ripple Effect has manifested in their life and the lives of people involved in their actions, both emotionally/psychologically and financially.
Costs and Legal Issues — At the start of the Discovering Better Choices class, participants will complete a worksheet called What did it really cost you? â Was it worth it? that breaks down the participants' total cost of their choice that led to the class, including legal consequences, total time lost, and other negatives that were a cost besides times and money, like a relationship change, trust, their reputation, their job, or their involvement in other activities. Then they will ask themselves the questions, Was it worth it? Why or Why not?
After the worksheet, the class moves to discussion about laws and legal rights, starting with defining the distinctions of the justice system and the different courts (civil, criminal and municipal and juvenile) and laws that govern them. We begin to define and break down the charges of: shoplifting, assault, crimes of violence, crimes of extraordinary risk, minor in possession, minor in consumption, harassment, disturbing the peace and the new law of juvenile sexting crime. The instructor provides information about the statute of limitations and the factors that the court will take into consideration before making a decision as to the length and severity of an offender's punishment. Lastly, we define what does it mean to have a case expunged or sealed of criminal record.
Impulse Control — We talk about Why We Make Bad Decisions and Understanding Cognitive Distortions. When we obsess over an outcome we create illusory stress, or what most of us think of as "worrying about" something. We conceive of a possible a negative outcome which we do not desire, and then we obsess over this possible future and wind up making negative choices to try to avoid it. This is the level of the reactive mind. Human emotions like fear, worry and hopelessness end up becoming the driving force of our choices.
Understanding Drugs and their Classifications — During this section of the making better choices class, we talk about the three classifications of drugs, which are depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants. We will use scientific and situational information to explain how using drugs and/or alcohol plays a significant role in a person making bad decisions. Drug and alcohol abuse interferes with the frontal lobe of the brain, which is our chief executive functioning in helping us to make good decisions. With the rise of vaping, we also spend time discussing in more detail the effects of electronic cigarettes/vaping and whether it really is safer, as many people believe.
Life Skills — The life skill techniques we discuss are: Using Effective Coping Skills and Stress Skills and Tips. We define what coping skills are and identify the two types of coping skills one needs to manage stress and cope in everyday life. Coping skills can be broken down into two types, immediate and preventative. Immediate skills are those we use on the spur of the moment to deal with unexpected or volatile situations. Preventative copings skills are those that should be practiced regularly to maintain a healthy body and attitude. Each participant identifies their coping skills and how they use them. We identify seven top stress skills one can use to manage stress and/or negative emotions like anger.
Anger Managhement — We begin by defining and discussing the meaning of anger, aggression, and violence. The class participants will be spilt into four groups and each group will brainstorm the positives or negatives of anger or violence. Afterwards, we review as a class and have a discussion about what was identified. Then each class participant will complete a mini Interpersonal Anger Assessment Tool Quiz to find out what level of anger they have and what steps they can use to manage their anger.
Legal Rights and Responsibilities Quiz — There is a 21 question quiz that the class will complete towards the end of class. But don't worry! There is no failing score for this quiz. All questions will be reviewed and discussed as a group to ensure everyone has learned.
Improving Citizen Etiquette with Law Enforcement — In our society today, citizens are extremely aware that an encounter with law enforcement can bring about high anxiety, worry, misinterpretation, disrespect, and possibly even anger. The intense and overwhelming variety of feelings can drive an encounter with law enforcement from good to bad very quickly. We at ISAE would like for you to know that we understand and we are honoring our commitment to the community to uphold our value that "Knowledge is Power." Since we cannot always predict how law enforcement will behave, we as citizens must respond in a way to reduce risk to ourselves, be respectful, stay calm, and protect our safety and the safety of others. For this reason, ISAE has taken on the initiative to educate others in how to improve citizen etiquette during encounters with law enforcement in some of our appropriate classes. Here are a few tips to remember:
- Signing a citation (otherwise known as a ticket) is not an admission of guilt. It is just an agreement that you will appear in court to address the issue.
- Law Enforcement has to ability to conduct one of two searches: a Consensual search occurs when the person gives permission for the search and a Non-Consensual search occurs when an officer believes probable cause exists and will conduct a search without a person’s permission.
It is always good to remind ourselves that law enforcement exists to serve and protect and with that comes an enormous amount of power. It is up to us to decide how we choose to maintain a level of respect, responsibility, safety, and freedom at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Discovering Better Choices Class
Many people have questions about how our Discovering Better Choices classes. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions.
1. How long does the making better choices class take? Weekday classes are from 5pm to 10pm. Weekend Classes are 9am to 3:30pm
2. Is there a test at the end of the class? There is no test given to complete a class. A participant earns their certificate by paying for the class in full, attending the entire class, participating, and completing all class requirements.
3. Will I be required to talk during the class? ISAE highly recommends that each participant engages in class verbally and completes worksheets and class activities. As part of the process of accepting responsibility, each participant will start by introducing themselves: name, age, describing the situation (When? Where? What was taken?), what they would do differently, and what are they expecting to get out of class.
4. Is my information kept confidential? Every participant's information is kept confidential. Doors are closed and only those required to be in class will be allowed. Exceptions are translators, if it is a parent-teen class, a minor who is a run risk and needs close supervision, and/or a participant with other disabilities, etc.
5. Are there breaks for meals and can I bring food? Yes, there are two breaks for 10-15 minutes each. Weekend day classes also offer an additional 30-minute lunch break. Participants can bring food, especially for the weekend day classes. Minors are not allowed to leave the premises, so they are always reminded to bring a lunch and/or snacks.
6. What if I miss my class? Can I reschedule? If a participant misses their class, they can contact the office on the next business day between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm to reschedule.
7. Who are the instructors of the Discovering Better Choices Class? Instructors are licensed professionals, in various career fields, mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, or professionals in the criminal justice field, just to name a few. They are trained extensively by ISAE before facilitating a class and ISAE provides ongoing training, updates, and evaluations with instructors. The majority (if not all) of the instructors are currently working in their field and have been for years and some instructors have been employed by ISAE for more than 10 years.
8. When will I receive the certificate of completion? Once payment is received in full, each participant will receive the certificate immediately once class is over.
9. What other advice do you have for people attending the class, for their experience to be as comfortable as possible? Participants should prepare themselves for the class by getting enough rest, eating a meal or snack prior or bringing one, taking off sufficient time to get to the class on time due to heavy traffic in Colorado, wearing comfortable clothes that they can sit in for five to six hours, take medications as scheduled unless it has a sleepiness side effect. Try to postpone if possible, if a person has any physical health problems, bring what they need to support them (like a pillow to sit on or for their back, stand up), bring a water bottle, something to write on (most locations do not have tables), wear clothing that helps to adjust the temp in their bodies (sweater, short sleeves, pants, shorts, etc.) and most importantly of all, allow themselves to be open to hearing and experiencing new things, as it makes the time go by quicker and it makes learning fun!