Collaborative Problem Solving® (CPS)

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

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About This Program

Target Population: Children and adolescents (ages 3-21) with a variety of behavioral challenges, including both externalizing (e.g., aggression, defiance, tantrums) and internalizing (e.g., implosions, shutdowns, withdrawal) who may carry a variety of related psychiatric diagnoses, and their parents/caregivers, unless not age appropriate (e.g. young adult or transition age youth)

For children/adolescents ages: 3 – 21

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 3 – 21

Brief Description

CPS is an approach to understanding and helping children with behavioral challenges who may carry a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, including oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, etc. CPS uses a structured problem solving process to help adults pursue their expectations while reducing challenging behavior and building helping relationships and thinking skills. Specifically, the CPS approach focuses on teaching the neurocognitive skills that challenging kids lack related to problem solving, flexibility, and frustration tolerance. Unlike traditional models of discipline, this approach avoids the use of power, control, and motivational procedures and instead focuses on teaching at-risk kids the skills they need to succeed. CPS provides a common philosophy, language and process with clear guideposts that can be used across settings. In addition, CPS operationalizes principles of trauma-informed care.

Program Goals:

The goals of Collaborative Problem Solving® (CPS) are:

  • Reduction in externalizing and internalizing behaviors
  • Reduction in use of restrictive interventions (restraint, seclusion)
  • Reduction in caregiver/teacher stress
  • Increase in neurocognitive skills in youth and caregivers
  • Increase in family involvement
  • Increase in parent-child relationships
  • Increase in program cost savings

Contact Information

J. Stuart Ablon
Title: Director
Agency/Affiliation: Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital
Phone: (617) 643-6024
Fax: (617) 643-9715

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: May 2017