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CPS (Collaborative Problem Solving) model seeks to alter our thinking about
children’s attitudes and behavior. Rather than seeing the child as bad,
willful, contrary, oppositional, etc, we see the child as lacking certain skills
which results in frustration, which in turn appears to be expressed
behaviorally. It is a paradigm shift, away from extrinsic motivational models
such as reward and consequences.
understanding and addressing the skills deficit, children can be better taught
to manage tasks that were previously sources of frustration. The CPS model is
collaborative in that we seek to engage the child in a process of exploration
and problem solving which in turn increases and teaches the development of these
the CPS model has been applied in clinical settings, a common denominator with
regard to the children, is a history of trauma. It is important to understand
and appreciate that exposure to trauma really means being raised in chaotic and
the social learning as a result of exposure to chaos and violence and consider
the sense of safety and agency a child has internalized.
CPS model seeks to provide a very different experience for the child through the
teacher-child relationship or adult-child relationship than previously
experienced, one where the adult is empathetic, non-judgemental and supportive.
“consequences” – code for punishment is used, it reinforces coercive
behavior to which many of these students have already been exposed. It triggers
a sense of danger and lack of being valued.
CPS model mitigates those negative triggers. It offers a sense of importance,
being heard and is participatory in the problem solving process. We no longer
see the child as bad but as needing support for skill development. Here we view
children as wanting to do well, but the issue is can they. If they
can’t their frustration, despair, upset comes out behaviorally.
the CPS model assumes that if the child can do well, they would enjoy doing so.
This is so different than a punishment/reward paradigm where we seek to
incentivize the child externally by avoiding punishment and earning rewards. If
there is a skill deficit, no amount of punishment or reward or external
incentives will provide for success.
any intervention, the CPS model will not be helpful to everyone. However, it
does provide another very potent and different tool set to the teacher and
clinical work with adult couples in conflict includes elements of this model.
adults I see in counseling have family of origin experiences that include
elements of abuse, neglect, violence, alcohol/drugs issues, severe mental health
concerns. I help adults to understand the implicit learning that took place in
their family of origin and the strategies learned which were successful towards
surviving as a child exposed to those elements . Many adults never realized the
impact of those formative experiences in terms of determining their world views
and relationship problem solving strategies.
then look at the utility of those strategies now at a different place in time
and different context and different set of relationships. Do the survival
strategies of childhood work now as an adult? What might be more effective now?
I can directly teach or instruct or guide or coach on new strategies, providing
the “tools” people ask for. Couples are then provided opportunity for
practice, starting in the office and then on their own at home.
couples return, we review progress and fine tune the instruction.
clients typically find this a very engaging process and unlike any other
therapies previously attended . It is also why in my approach to helping people
I ask many questions, explain what is at issue, offer guidance and set aside so
much time for our meetings. Gone is the blame and shame in favor of helping
people develop positive skills to improve relationships.
hope this addresses your question.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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