A new innovative clinic designed for families with behaviourally challenged children and teenagers has recently opened in Sydney. The Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) clinic is the first to be accredited in Australia and is providing parents and their children with alternative and effective methods of reducing conflict.
Ms Stephanie Morse, currently studying a Masters of Clinical Psychology at UTS, is the provisional psychologist working in the new CPS clinic.
“The idea behind it is that kids do well if they can,” Ms Morse said.
“The reason why some kids aren’t doing as well is because they don’t have the skills to meet the expectations that are expected of them.
“Parents and kids work together to identify those lagging skills and the situations where they are coming to bear; and then figure out solutions together that works for everyone.”
Collaborative and proactive solutions was founded by Dr Ross Greene, an American scientist who found that social, emotional, and behavioural challenges in kids are best understood as the by-product of lagging cognitive skills, rather than being based on attention seeking or a lack of motivation.
The solutions and strategies devised focus on resolving issues in a collaborative and proactive manner between the child and their parents.
Often CPS is compared with Parent Management Training (PMT) which is considered the “gold standard” for the treatment of children with behavioural problems. It is based on the idea that you reward the behaviour you want to see more of, and punish the behaviour which you want to see less of.
Ms Morse said that for 60-70 per cent of children, PMT is an effective strategy, especially if done consistently. However, the remaining 30-40 per cent of children require something else with PMT sometimes even making the problem worse.
“That is where CPS really provides a different path for families,” she said. “Their whole life they have been told, reward, punish and everything will be fine, it hasn’t helped.
“It is filling a gap for a population which doesn’t actually have anything else.”
The children who often go through CPS lack the skills in frustration tolerance, problem solving, and flexible thinking. By expressing their own concerns, and listening to mum and dad’s concerns, they are able to come together and find a solution to the unsolved problem.
According to Dr Greene, many behaviourally challenged children are overcorrected, over punished and over directed where they are told what to do every day, all day.
“CPS is about taking some of that negativity out of their lives and giving them some say in how they can manage themselves and what happens in their lives”, Ms Morse said.
The idea of CPS is to do it proactively. Instead of dealing with an outburst when it is happening, you set aside a time to talk about that situation beforehand.
Ms Morse’s own observations so far are that many of her clients have anxiety.
“In a lot of kids I see, they hold it all in and instead of internalising that, they externalise it and they explode. So that may be one thing to watch out for.”
Dr. Greene developed CPS at Harvard University, and the model has been widely used throughout the US and internationally. CPS has also been implemented in juvenile detention facilities to reduce the number of seclusion and restraint events with the emphasis that the skills taught are helpful for everyone.
The CPS clinic runs on Tuesdays from 1-6pm at The UTS Health Psychology Unit near St. Leonards and each session goes about 60 minutes. For further information or to book an appointment, visit the Health Psychology Unit website.