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What is "Collaborative Problem Solving"?

Thinkkids

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. 

For more information, please visit www.thinkkids.org.