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Adolescent Transitions Program


Thomas Dishion, Ph.D.
(Contact) Kate Kavanaugh
University of Oregon
Department of Psychology
Eugene, Oregon

(503) 282-3662         Fax (503) 282-3808

Parent Training Speciality
11-18 years Target
Exemplary II Rating

The Adolescent Transitions Program (ATP) is a parent training program developed by Dishion and Kavanagh (in press) as a selected intervention for at risk early adolescents. The parent˝focused curriculum is based on family management skills of encouragement, limit setting and supervision, problem solving, and improved family relationship and communication patterns. These skills were determined by 20 years of clinical and research investigations at the Oregon Social Learning Center to be critical for healthy child adjustment (Patterson, 1992) and follow a step-wise approach toward effective parenting skills and strategies for maintaining change. The long- term goals of the program are to arrest the development of teen antisocial behaviors and drug experimentation. Intermediate goals of the program are to improve parent family management and communication skills. The curriculum has been targeted at a broad cross section of parents. Group leaders are trained to adapt the curriculum to be sensitive to the education level and cultural orientation of families.

The ATP includes twelve parent group meetings and four individual family meetings. There are also monthly booster sessions for at least three months following completion of the group. Parents meet for 90 minutes once a week. Groups are designed to provide a balance between skill development and group discussion. Each meeting includes discussion and practice of a family management and a communication skill. Parents participate in group exercises (either oral or written depending on group needs), discussion, role- plays and setting up home practice activities. There are six accompanying video tapes that demonstrate family management and communication skills using a wrong way ˝right way format. The group is lead by one or two leaders depending on the size and needs of the group. Additionally, a parent consultant (a parent who has been through the program) helps facilitate discussion and practice and provides a bridge between leaders and participants. Group work is supported by weekly mid week phone contact by the group leader and four individual family meetings. Parents are invited to meet with the group leader at the beginning of group to establish family goals for the program. There are three additional individual meetings available for families after the encouragement, limit setting and problem solving components of the program. These sessions are designed to help families tailor make skills to their individual needs and problem solve strategies for barriers that interfere with effective parenting Data from a rigorous randomized control study of 220 parents showed that the program was effective in reducing observed negative parent-child interactions. Teacher reports showed decreases in antisocial behaviors at school. The program was effective in reducing youth smoking behaviors at one year follow up.(Dishion & Andrews, 1995) These results have been replicated in over 300 families in Oregon communities. (Irvine et al 2000) All of the studies have reported high parent satisfaction with ATP. The program is currently being used and evaluated in numerous schools and mental health settings across the country.


Implementation Costs:

Groups can be run by one or two leaders depending on the size and needs of the group. One leader for every l0 families is recommended. Leaders should be masters or bachelor level with a high degree of skill or experience working with parents and have a background in education or psychology or a related field. Leaders need to be available to run weekly groups, conduct individual family meetings and make mid week supportive phone calls. Follow up phone supervision may be useful in assisting leaders with difficult implementation situations. A parent consultant is recommended to facilitate group process and parent participation. Parent consultants are paid $10.00 an hour. Groups can be conducted in community centers, mental health settings, or schools. If a group is run at school teachers can function as co leaders. A leaders guide and parent workbooks are needed for each group. Parent incentives in the form of family activities (dinners, movies, bowling etc) are given to one or two families at each meeting. Snacks are a part of each meeting. Child care for younger children is also recommended either in the form of babysitting money or an on site place for childcare. Videotapes need to be purchased separately.

Training Costs:

Training can occur on site or at the University of Oregon Family Center. On site costs include $1000 per day plus travel expenses (hotel, airfare, ground travel, per diem). On site training is recommended to facilitate the best technical assistance for individual implementation issues. Training can occur for any number of participants up to 15. The leaders guide, workbooks are not included in the training costs. Costs for training conducted at the University Family Center are negotiated on an individual basis.


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