Best Practices

Collaborative Problem Solving

Youturn is a member of Ottawa’s Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Community of Practice and is implementing the CPS model into the practices and interventions of all its programs.

CPS is an innovative approach to understanding and helping young people with behavioural, social and emotional challenges. Developed by Dr. Stuart Ablon from Massachusetts General Hospital, CPS is increasingly recognized as a best-practice model in a range of children and youth programming.

The foundation of the CPS model is a recognition that young people “do well if they can.” In other words, CPS is founded on an understanding that children and adolescents want to do well but in some cases, don’t know how to do so—they lack the skills to engage in healthy adaptive behaviour.  Interventions and treatment based on CPS are aimed at giving young people the tools to fulfill their natural desire to succeed.

As part of the Ottawa CPS Community of Practice, youturn is working in collaboration with other children and youth agencies to provide a consistent treatment approach for children and families across sectors.

Social-Ecological Approach

“Research has shown that treating the youth in isolation from the family, school peer and neighbourhood systems means that any gains are quickly eroded upon return to the family.” Alan Lescheid Ph.D. Psych., University of Western Ontario

Youturn has promoted and utilized a socio-ecological approach towards intervention since 2000. This approach includes:

  • Exploring the strengths and need areas of the systems involved in the youth’s life
  • Accessing support from systems to develop and implement interventions to diminish risky behaviour
  • Providing supports in all spheres of the young person’s life – their immediate family, extended family, peers, neighbourhood, school and community
  • Working with families as full collaborators in treatment planning and delivery, with a focus on family members as the long-term change agents

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

“More than any other intervention Cognitive Behavioural therapy has garnered the greatest amount of attention in relation to effective correctional treatment.” Alan Lescheid Ph.D. Psych., University of Western Ontario

There is considerable research that supports the role that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) plays in effective correctional treatment. The use of CBT is integral in the development of many of our clients’ intervention plans.


The research also speaks at length about the importance of matching the intensity of service to the relative risk and need of individual offenders. “The Risk Principle of Case Classification” (Andres et al. 1990) suggests that  intensive services are more meaningful to high-risk youth, while low-risk youth can be safely assigned to less intensive services. Inappropriate matching of services to risk will be ineffective, non-productive and may actually increase the risk of youth to reoffend.

Program Components of Effective Service

The research is also extremely clear as to what constitutes effective programming. Youturn has made a commitment to deliver programs that reflect the qualities of effective service and this includes a strong commitment to Quality Assurance (QA), which includes:

  • Regularly scheduled clinical-supervision practices
  • Program evaluation
  • Adherence to critical thinking processes and best practice
  • Initial, monthly and termination clinical-focused reports
  • attentiveness to clinician gaps in clinical knowledge and skill
  • Ongoing training
  • Pre- and post-administration of Risk/Needs Assessment  Instruments
  • Assessments for measuring intermediate outcomes
  • Client- and consumer-satisfaction surveys
  • Commitment to collecting data (since 1989) and evaluating how well our services contribute to the reduction in recidivism
  • Clinical oversight provided through supervision by a psychologist