I have been reading Ross Greene’s new book: Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach (Ross W. Greene and J. Stuart Ablon; the Guilford Press, 2006). I am struck by how much overlap there is between his methods and the Restorative Approach.
Ross Greene reminds us of the important truth: children do well if they can. He emphasizes the connection between one’s understanding of the causes of children’s explosive behavior and ones’ intervention. If you see the cause as inept parenting and lack of motivation by the child, strict consistent parenting responses and systems to increase motivation might be helpful. However, if you see the cause as more related to cognitive inadequacy (as he describes) and/or biological changes and skills deficits created by trauma (as we emphasize) then your response would center on opportunities to learn new skills and improve cognitive and emotional functioning.
Greene and Ablon describe four key cognitive skills that are often impaired in our children: language processing, emotion regulation, cognitive flexibility, and social skills. They advocate for the importance of careful observation and tracking to clarify which skills the child particularly lacks, and what triggers explosive episodes. They make an excellent point that a situation or condition does not have to always produce an outburst to be a trigger- it just has to increase the likelihood of one.
Greene and Ablon also emphasize the importance of the relationship, stating on page 91 that “The single greatest predictor of therapeutic change…is the degree to which a therapeutic alliance is formed between clinicians and patients.”
The collaborative Problem Solving Method involves working with the child to find a solution to the problem that satisfies the needs and desires of both parties. In the course of this process, skills of flexibility, emotion regulation, and social skills can be modeled and taught. This process overlaps with the Restorative Model response to serious behavioral issues, in which the child participates in figuring out a way to overcome the problems his behavior has caused.
Both models advocate for a treatment setting that relies on respectful treatment relationships, on listening to and learning from/about the child, and on skills teaching and practice.
Greene and Ablon even use the same example I always use in my training, about making basketball shots! (see page 217)
I will be attending a training with Ross Greene at the Brattleboro Retreat (http://www.retreathealthcare.com/) in December, and I look forward to learning more about his ideas.
©2006 The Restorative Approach is a servicemark of the Klingberg Family Centers, Inc.
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