Collaborative Problem Solving

What is "Collaborative Problem Solving"?


In 2008, the Department of Psychiatry at MGH developed the Think:Kids program, led by Dr. Ablon, to further develop the Collaborative Problem Solving model and provide a framework for its continued growth and dissemination nationally and internationally. OHSU is proud to bring this technique to Oregon and provide this model and framework for everyone in this region.

The basic tenets of the Think:Kids model support the view that "children do well if they can." If they can’t, we, as caregivers, need to understand what is getting in their way so that we can help. Although this doesn’t seem earth shattering, it is a significant departure from the conventional idea that "kids do well if they want to."

By seeing kids and families through a different lens we can more accurately explain what is getting in a child’s way and shift our interactions in overt and subtle ways. Children with maladaptive challenging behaviors do not choose to be this way. They express unhappiness and experience great misery in all aspects of their lives. If our explanation is that a child’s behavior is purposeful, manipulative, or intentional, we support the idea that it is a child’s choice to be miserable. Think:Kids has a very different explanation. Children with challenging and maladaptive behavior often lack some crucial skills in the areas of frustration tolerance, adaptability/flexibility, and problem solving. Or they have difficulty applying these skills when most needed. They may have a host of mental health, cognitive or language based challenges underlying their struggles. The model effectively identifies what skills a child is lacking and trains/teaches these skills through a collaborative process in increments the child can handle developmentally. This collaborative process helps adult caregivers pursue expectations, reduce challenging behavior, teach skills and gather information with an empathetic rather than punitive stance. Ultimately the opportunity to restore / build healthy relationships with loved ones and other care givers sets the stage for resilience and success in the face of challenges that remain. 

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The Oregon CPS Project at OHSU offers the following services:

  • Individual and Group Consultation and Coaching in the CPS Model
  • Introduction to CPS Training, Intensive CPS Tier I Training, and Parent Group Trainings for your Group or System
  • Coordination support for planning and hosting Tier 2 Advanced Workshop with Dr. Stuart Ablon
  • Organizational Development and Cultural Needs Assessment as it relates to the CPS model

Who could use CPS Training:

  • Families
  • Mental Health Agencies
  • Education organizations
  • Foster Care organizations
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Day Treatment centers
  • Outpatient mental health providers
  • Inpatient mental health providers

What trainings are available for groups or systems?

  • Introductory Trainings (1/2 day or full day)
  • Tier 1 - 2.5 day Intensive Workshop