An Innovative Approach to Working with Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems

Room: Old Louisville

Stevens Treatment Programs has been providing residential treatment to adolescent males since the early 1980s. For over forty years, Stevens has specialized in working with youth who present with complex emotional and behavioral needs, including those with a history of problematic sexual behaviors. Stevens has been known as a leading treatment program for youth with sexual behavior problems, and has a long standing reputation for providing a safe, secure, behaviorally-based therapeutic setting, even for youth with a history of multiple failed interventions and placements.

Over the past three years, Stevens has transformed its practice approach and overall philosophy to reflect a trauma-informed and holistic approach to education, treatment, and residential care. Although safety remains a core goal, the definition of safety has expanded beyond the physical, to a well-rounded understanding of emotional and psychological safety and well-being. Since 2019, Stevens has been implementing the trauma-informed Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC) framework into all aspects of programming. ARC has touched the behavioral support model and treatment approach in many ways, which will be explored during this workshop.

Trauma-informed care has touched all aspects of organizational life, including changing physical structures to reduce stigma, and adjustments to our approach to recreational services, community access, and transition planning. This workshop will highlight the ways in which Stevens has merged long-time expertise in working with youth with sexual behavior problems with best practices of trauma-informed care.

Stevens has experienced a tremendous philosophical shift around the central role and value of youth and family voice. The Youth Advisory Council and Parent Advisory Group are two venues used for eliciting voice and facilitating change. Staff voice in all aspects of programming is now sought and used on every level, and youth and staff have active roles in ongoing quality improvement initiatives.

The development of community relationships and connections has been an important initiative on Stevens’ part. Stevens has made effort to de-mystify and thereby de-stigmatize the clientele served through involvement in community events, interaction through social media, hosting stakeholder Coffee Hours, and requesting stakeholder feedback.
Since June of 2020, the Stevens’ Social Justice & Inclusivity Committee has been working towards the vision of making Stevens a more inclusive organization. Our vision is an organization that respects and celebrates differences, values the experiences of others, and actively addresses inequity within and outside of Stevens. The committee has led trainings, hosted guest lectures, facilitated an organizational assessment, and promoted a complete shift in organizational culture. Changes to practice can be seen in numerous areas, which will be presented during the workshop.

Stevens overhauled its orientation training and enhanced ongoing staff training to ensure this philosophy is deeply embedded in practice. We have placed greater emphasis on treatment teaming, which supports efforts to understand youths’ behavior, collaborate across all program departments, and address youths’ needs in an individualized manner. In addition to providing useful information regarding our programmatic changes, Stevens will present ways in which we are tracking and measuring change for individual youth and the organization overall.


Ivy Mederios, LICSW

Executive Director , Stevens Treatment Programs


Will Clawson

Director of Strategic Initiatives , Stevens Treatment Programs