What is the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) model, in a nutshell?

  • A unique and innovative strengths-based and neurobiologically grounded model, Collaborative Problem Solving (or CPS, as it is commonly referred to) was developed at Massachusetts General Hospital, and now continues to be researched and disseminated out of a program at MGH called Think:Kids
  • An evidence-based approach for understanding and working with challenging children and adolescents, as well as transition-aged youth and adults
  • A mindful, empathetic and empowering way of parenting, teaching and otherwise serving typically developing children and teens
  • An approach designed to work with children and adolescents (as well as adults) across a wide variety of settings such as:
    – Home
    – School / Daycare
    – Foster Care
    – Therapeutic / Residential Settings
  • A way of operationalizing trauma-informed care on a large scale (i.e, systems-wide, state-wide, province-wide) through the framework of a common philosophy and language used in a structured relational process
Rick is very knowledgable on the “Plan B” process and added valuable stories and examples!

Who can benefit from coaching and/or training in CPS?

  • Parents and family members
  • Childcare Providers
  • Foster Parents and Agency Staff
  • Juvenile Justice Staff
  • Mental Health Practitioners
  • Medical Practitioners
  • Educators: Administrators, Teachers, Counselors, School Psychologists, Classified Staff
  • Law Enforcement & Other Public Safety Officers

What’s to be gained by learning the CPS approach?

  • The ability to pursue high priority expectations
  • The ability to reduce challenging behavior
  • The ability to proactively solve problems in a durable manner
  • The ability to build skills that the child/individual is lacking
  • The ability to preserve or build a helping relationship while doing all of the above

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What’s the premise of the CPS approach?

  • Challenging behavior is best understood as a by-product of lagging thinking skills (rather than, for example, as attention-seeking, manipulative, limit-testing or a sign of poor motivation)
  • These challenges are best addressed by teaching a child/person the skills they lack (rather than persisting in the use of intensive imposition of adult will, or punishment and reward systems that have proven unsuccessful thus far)
  • While challenging behaviors can look common across populations of children/people who get lumped into categories, the complexity of lagging thinking skills that set the stage for the challenging behavior can be quite unique to each individual, and assessing these skill deficits properly is key to making progress in solving the problems that are created by the behaviors
  • Proper assessment and planning is key to identifying the lagging thinking skills, and then implementing the CPS process referred to as “Plan B”, which integrates not only skill-building, but all of the components that have been shown to be sound practice for trauma informed care: rhythm, empathy, co-regulation of child/person and parent/practitioner, etc.

Sounds like a lot of training and effort…  What makes CPS worth the investment?

  • Brain research supports the us of CPS: Research by Dr. Bruce Perry (leading neuroscientist who studies impacts of childhood trauma on the brain) among others, indicates that numerous aspects of the CPS process referred to as “Plan B” provide components that are critical in order for the brain to develop new neurological pathways. These new neural pathways can become what he refers to as a new “default template” that is necessary in order for the challenging behaviors to be replaced with new, more adaptable behaviors
  • Far less time, effort and agony are expended learning and implementing CPS than any of the following:
    – Imposing adult will in the face of resistance time and time again
    – Coming up with more and more elaborate systems of reward and punishment
    – Revisiting the same issues over and over with little or no skill development
  • CPS offers outcomes that are rarely, if ever, accomplished by traditional forms of responding to challenging behavior:
    – Proactively solving problems in a durable manner
    – Building critical, lifelong skills that the child/individual is lacking
    – Preserving or building/rebuilding a helping relationship while solving problems
Material was presented in a very logical and inspirational way!

So what kind of training and coaching is available?

Personal CPS training and follow-up coaching
can take place via phone or video conference calls,
and can take the place of a formal introductory training.

  • Personalized Training  –  Training sessions of 60 – 90 minutes at a time allow for personalized examples and application, questions and discussion that is not possible in a larger group training.  This form of coaching usually involves application of the model between each training session to support gradual and progressive growth.
  • Troubleshooting  –  Ongoing coaching beyond the training phase serves to provide support when encountering challenges in implementing the model and seeing the results that are desired.  These challenges may be due to issues such as lack of fidelity in using the model, lack of skill or experience in navigating the process, or difficulties with prioritization and planning stages.

Formal CPS training typically occurs in 3 phases
for those who wish to become skilled at a level
that will promote consistent fidelity and outcomes:

  • Introductory Training  –  Ranging from 2-hour Overview to 8-hour Comprehensive Introductions, these provide a foundational understanding of the model and the essential components for implementation.
  • Tier 1  –  A two and a half day training, complete with video modeling, role-playing, and case studies that equips participants to be proficient in solid implementation of the model, this includes: In-depth exposure to assessment, planning and intervention components; practice identifying triggers, unmet expectations and specific skill deficits; as well as trouble-shooting when the process is challenging.
  • Tier 2 – Taught exclusively by Think:Kids Staff, this level of training is for those who want to gain a higher level of proficiency, and be able to support others within their agency or organization, including: implementation in the most difficult situations, teaching the model to others, addressing common resistance and gaining buy-in, addressing systemic issues such as leadership during culture change, and enhancing communication structures.

Ready for some training, consultation or coaching?

Call us at 503-896-6780 or click the button below to email us:

Contact Us