New educational program developed for students found responsible of policy violation

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The UI-CERB (Cognitive, Emotion Regulation, and Behavioral skills) Program was implemented in 2017 for students found responsible for sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking.

The UI-CERB Program uses mindfulness techniques to help students develop cognitive, emotion regulation, and behavioral skills. Students taking the program meet weekly with a facilitator for 15-16 weeks. The weekly sessions include interactive activities in which students increase awareness of their internal thoughts and feelings, as well as learn to make choices about their behavior based on their values.

“We help students differentiate between mental experiences and behaviors so they can explore possibilities for change,” says Andy Winkelmann, a UI-CERB facilitator. “The aim is not to make students feel better, but to help them get better at feeling.”

In 2014, then Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin charged a committee to outline evidence-based recommendations for sanctions for students who were found responsible for sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking but were not separated from the university. The committee recommended that Achieving Change Through Value-Based Behavior (ACTV), a group intervention successful in reducing violent incidents and recidivism with adults in the criminal justice system, be adapted to an individual education program to target sexual misconduct among college students. A Department of Justice grant funded the modification of the ACTV curriculum into UI-CERB. In 2017, under the first iteration of the UI Anti-Violence Plan, four facilitators were trained in the UI-CERB curriculum and began implementing the program with students.

While other programs developed for working with offenders focus on changing thoughts and feelings, UI-CERB builds on the principle from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that thoughts and feelings cannot be changed.

“In CERB sessions, we help students learn how to make room for uncomfortable thoughts and feelings by engaging in willingness and acceptance activities,” says Winkelmann. “We strive to help students achieve some psychological flexibility.”

CERB facilitators work with students to change behaviors so they align with the student’s values, achieving change by focusing on what the student can control.

Eleven students were enrolled in the program in 2017-2018, and four additional facilitators are being trained in summer 2018 to expand capacity. Program assessment, including pre- and post-questionnaires and in-session observations, was implemented to ensure that program goals were met.

“CERB represents a new development in our approach to creating a safe and respectful campus,” says Monique DiCarlo, the UI Title IX and sexual misconduct response coordinator. “We’re excited about future possibilities for the program.”

2018 Year In Review

This article is part of the 2018 Year in Review, which highlights some of the Division of Student Life's accomplishments from the previous academic year.

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