Skip to main content

Adapting an Evidence Based Intervention: Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS)

Grant Year: 
Harrisburg School District
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg has both a SS/HS and a TCE (Prevention/Early Intervention) grant. Through the ongoing collaboration and coordination of the two projects, PATHS is being implemented in all 12 Pre-K through eighth grade schools in the district. In addition, the Harrisburg projects enjoy a close working relationship with the co-developer, Mark Greenberg of the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University , so they were able to make adaptations with his participation.

Adapting PATHS for Mental Health Providers

Since PATHS has been successfully implemented in the Harrisburg school district for many years, the projects wanted to supplement and expand work being done in the classroom by introducing the PATHS program to mental health providers. Their goal was to adapt the PATHS training model so that it was relevant for mental health providers who typically work one-on-one or with families. The outcome was a social and emotional learning tool and language shared by educators and mental health personnel.

It is critical when adapting an EBI for a new audience to retain the integrity of the core elements of the program. Through careful needs analysis with mental health providers, the project directors were able to enhance the training while adhering to the core content. The Harrisburg team conducted focus groups with mental health workers and asked specifically how social and emotional learning fit with their current practice. They asked what the mental health workers needed and how they would use PATHS in their practice. Based on the findings, an expanded training was pilot tested with a group of mental health workers to gain more insight into how it fit with this new audience. The Harrisburg team has now trained all school- and home-based mental health providers on PATHS. In addition, monthly consultation is offered to reinforce the training and implementation.

Parent Involvement

The Harrisburg team further adapted the PATHS program by developing expanded parent participation activities. The PATHS curriculum already had some take home lessons that students were asked to share with their parents. The team discovered that this part of the EBI was not being implemented consistently. Parents needed to be more involved in order to reinforce the social and emotional learning concepts at home. With the help of the local PATHS training subcontractor, the projects created over 100 attractive, interactive and fun take home activities. A parent liaison distributes them in the classroom and talks to other parents about the importance and significance of the activities. The Harrisburg team is currently in the process of translating the PATHS Parent Home activities into Spanish.

Making the Connection to Academic Achievement

The connection between social and emotional learning and academic performance wasn't neglected either. Many classroom-based lessons were created that purposefully link SEL to reading and writing. The local PATHS training subcontractor connected SEL to Harrisburg 's Balanced Literacy Initiative. Numerous PATHS supplemental lessons were developed that integrated SEL into reading and writing.

For more information about PATHS, please visit: