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Response Ability Pathways  

(R A P)



Response Ability Pathways (RAP)™

Most everyone wants our children and youth to thrive in their homes and educational environments. Unfortunately, many youth are lucky enough just to survive.


Response Ability Pathways (RAP) is a training program that provides skills for working effectively with all youth and supporting them on pathways toward responsibility. RAP training is highly practical in design and can be provided to both mentors and mature youth. RAP builds positive connections among youth and with their elders to create a climate of respect.


In times past, Native Americans, who lived in our area for hundreds of years, did not have theories of child development, but did raise children in happy contented family groups (as did many other primitive cultures). Anthropologists report that in the world of extended families and tribes exist incredible mutual respect for elders and children with relatively little family conflict.  In some western societies it may be offensive to leave anyone under 14 years old unsupervised. Native American children often took take care of younger children.  Most children of primitive groups learned their child rearing skills very well. It was normal and natural. Today, the practice of children who raise children (because the parents may not be around) is considered criminal – we call it neglect. Today, most children are segregated into peer groups as a convenience (such as for school or keep them out of factories).  If they don’t get along with peers or if peers got together and conflicted with adults, that is considered a major problem and needs a major fix. Sadly, peer groups have become a greater relevance than community ties for many of our youth. In most primitive society, harsh discipline for children is rare, and unnecessary.


Family stress, addictions, and home violence requiring family interventions by strangers are prevalent in today’s society. Today we live in a world of multiculturalism, to respect one another’s ethnicity.  Sadly, there may be very little left of the true culture and heritages of so many families in conflict and constant struggle.


Tribal cultures, such as the Narragansett, Wampanoag, and Lakota give us great perspective on family life and great opportunities for care of children. Many family members of today still love each other dearly, yet struggle to find the roots of disconnect that cause much family apprehension, tensions, upheaval and discord. Many children are stuck in modern nuclear families, alone and never having the full resources of an extended family. When the attachment instincts are activated in adults and children, to work with each other, instead of against each other, everyone wins. Rediscover lost truths on family interactions that that all our ancestors at one time possessed.  Response Ability Pathways (RAP) training, uses modern clinical understanding and techniques.


CEUs available.



How is RAP Training Organized?

RAP training follows principles of “universal design.” It is intuitive, jargon-free, and relevant across diverse cultural settings. Training is interactive and experiential and provides practical strategies for professional and lay persons as well as youth who are peer leaders. A RAP course is delivered over two days by certified RAP trainers. Outside readings support the formal training.

RAP trainers use brief lectures, audio-visual resources, discussion, and extensive role-playing of problem-solving scenarios. Participation in role-playing is organized to be as non-threatening as possible. The skills for these interventions are developed in sequence, first concentrating on Connecting, later adding Clarifying, and finally putting together Connecting, Clarifying, and Restoring.

Course Outline

     I.   RAP Foundations                                                                    III.    Clarifying
          Circle of Courage and Resilience Science                                            Coping With Challenges
          Rivers of Pain                                                                                  Private Logic: The Inside Kid
          Fighting Pain with Pain                                                                     Thinking Errors

                                                                                                                          CLEAR Thinking

     II.  Connecting                                                                            IV.     Restoring
          RAP Introduction                                                                             Instilling Responsibility
          Disconnected Kids                                                                           Cultivating Respect
          Brain Science on Connecting                                                             Restoring Social Bonds
          Strategies for Connecting                                                                
Choosing New Pathways


Response Ability Pathways (RAP)™

The Circle of Courage has piloted an innovative curriculum which offers "basic training" for all who deal with challenging children and youth. Response Ability Pathways™, or simply RAP, provides essential strength-based strategies for all who deal with young persons in family, school, or community.

What is RAP?

Response Ability Pathways (RAP) is a training program that provides skills for working effectively with all youth and supporting them on pathways toward responsibility. RAP training is highly practical in design and can be provided both to mentors and mature youth. RAP builds positive connections among youth and with their elders to create a climate of respect.

What Challenges Face Today’s Youth?

In early tribal cultures, children thrived when nurtured by caring relatives. But in modern society, the bonds between generations have been tattered. Children who are not attached to adults fail to learn the values of respect for self and others. Hungry for attention, they become prisoners of peer approval. Unmotivated in school, they fail to develop their potentials. Struggling for power, they challenge authority. Many youth mask their spiritual emptiness by reckless pursuit of pleasure. Their disruptive behaviors are signals of distress. Beneath their defiance, indifference, or reckless bravado, many of our youth are swimming in rivers of pain. But when their behavior bothers others, they are likely to be dealt more pain.


These problems are not unique to impoverished communities but are found in the city, suburb, and rural community. Family instability, substance abuse, delinquency, school problems, racism, and alienated youth are all symptoms of broken communities. RAP addresses such problems by restoring relationships and building positive peer climates.

How Does RAP Work?

To succeed in the face of risk and challenge, children need concerned adults and peers who respond to their needs rather than react to problem behavior. RAP provides these “response-abilities” to all who deal directly with young persons experiencing conflict in school, family, peer group, and community. This training can include key adult stakeholders as well as youth who exercise positive influence among their peers. RAP turns problems into positive learning opportunities by creating a system for communicating with youth. RAP uses a clear-cut problem-solving format: Connect ► Clarify ► Restore.


This is the normal process for resilient coping found in all cultures. Thus, RAP taps the strengths and natural capacity kids already have to connect with others for support, clarify challenging problems, and restore respect.


       •   Connecting:   A mentor’s first challenge is to create positive social bonds. While “building relationships” with reluctant youth 

                                     may appear to be a daunting task, many meaningful connections can be made in a short period of time, both 

                                     with individuals and with  groups. Positive connections are built upon small acts of respect and kindness. Once 

                                     youth connect, they are able to use that person for positive support.


       •   Clarifying:     By helping a youth understand “here-and-now” problem situations, mentors support the development of

                                     resilient  coping strengths. Youth learn to use strengths and overcome limitations to meet important life goals. 

                                     Young persons need to learn to think  clearly about their behavior in order to creatively solve problems, master

                                     difficult  challenges, and meet their needs.


        • Restoring:      Interpersonal harmony involves respect for self and others. A restorative plan taps inner strengths and external 

                                    supports to meet growth needs for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. Though complicated 

                                    problems may not be resolved immediately, a young person can take steps on the pathway toward



RAP starts with problems but searches for strengths and solutions. RAP provides whatever support the “teaching moment” allows, whether literally a moment or an hour. Sometimes a few short RAP interventions distributed over time have more lasting impact than a long session. RAP training grew from the Circle of Courage model based on Native American philosophies of child rearing as described in Reclaiming Youth At Risk by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern. The goal is to create opportunities for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. RAP is also grounded in research on resilience and brain science.


Connecting youth, family and community.

Respons Ability Pathways
R A P Training - Connect/Clarify/Restore
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