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An Open Trial of Collaborative Problem Solving in a Naturalistic Outpatient Setting

Alisha R PollastriLu Wang, Christopher J EddyJ Stuart Ablon

This is the first study showing that Collaborative Problem Solving is effective for helping children who exhibit a range of clinical symptoms in community-based outpatient family treatment, and that improvements in children’s symptoms in outpatient family therapy occur due in part to changes in parents’ understanding and behavior.


Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) is an intervention for reducing children’s challenging behaviors. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of family therapy using CPS in an outpatient clinic that specializes in treating children with challenging behaviors. One hundred and twenty families presented for treatment. Diagnoses at intake were varied, and 100 children (83%) had symptoms that were in the clinical range at intake. Parents reported significant change in their understanding of challenging behavior and prediction of children’s behavioral symptoms 3 months into treatment. Furthermore, children’s improvement was predicted by their parents’ increased understanding that cognitive skill deficits are responsible for challenging behavior. These results suggest that using CPS in community-based, outpatient family treatment is effective for helping children who exhibit a range of clinical symptoms. Results provide insights for clinical practice and research on CPS.

This study was published in Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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