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Say It Straight (SIS)

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Say It Straight (SIS) is a communication training program designed to help students and adults develop empowering communication skills and behaviors and increase self-awareness, self-efficacy, and personal and social responsibility. In turn, the program aims to reduce risky or destructive behaviors such as substance use, eating disorders, bullying, violence, precocious sexual behavior, and behaviors that can result in HIV infection. SIS began as a school-based program for use in grades 3-12. Its application has been expanded to include students in detention and treatment, student mentors and mentees, parents, high-risk communities, adults in treatment, college students, and the homeless.
SIS is based in social learning and positive psychology, emphasizing values such as resiliency, courage, compassion, and integrity. The change process in SIS begins with the recognition of one's own disempowering behaviors and leads to awareness of one's own deepest wishes to choose empowering behaviors for wellness. These changes lead from relationships of submission and dominance to relationships of equal value. Building on SIS's principle of "rooting diversity in sameness," participants learn to identify with others even when they may disagree or have differences with them. By using a technique called "body sculpting" and creating and acting in role-plays or "movies," they explore how they feel when they engage in empowering and disempowering communication/behavior. In body sculpting, the participants place their bodies in postures that intensify and make overt their internal experiences; for example, a begging posture can be used to represent placating. The movies enable participants to act out difficult interpersonal situations that are important in their lives (e.g., alcohol or drug abuse, drinking and driving, speeding, cheating, stealing, bullying, violence, vandalism, sexual behavior). Movies can be videotaped to give participants the opportunity to observe themselves. SIS also incorporates feedback, journaling, and small- and large-group discussion. Through these processes, participants learn that by empowering themselves, they gain respect and empower others.