Collaborative Helping at a Frontline Practice Level

Collaborative Helping is an integrated practice framework applicable across many different helping contexts:

  • Outreach, residential, community-based, inpatient and outpatient contexts across child welfare, behavioral health and health care.
  • For helpers holding both “professional” and “non-professional” degrees.
  • A flexible map to put family-centered principles into practice in the everyday “messiness” of this work.

It offers a flexible map to put family-centered principles into practice in the everyday “messiness” of this work. Drawing on Appreciative Inquiry, Motivational Interviewing, Narrative and Solution-Focused therapies and the Safety-Organized Practice approaches to child protection work, this framework helps families envision desired lives, address long-standing problems, and develop proactive coping strategies in the context of their local communities



View the above Cornerstone Graphic as a pdf file


The heart of this framework is the use of Collaborative Helping maps. A graphic portrayal of this map is illustrated below.
(Or view as a pdf file: Collaborative helping map)


These maps help workers think their way through complex situations and can provide a structure to guide conversations between workers and families about challenging issues.
This framework is beginning to be empirically tested and draws from models that have significant empirical evidence (e.g. motivational interviewing, solution-focused and narrative therapies) draws on approaches widely used across the helping field (appreciative inquiry and safety-organized practice). In initial studies of continued use of these maps, we have found that their use helps workers shift how they approach and relate to families and enhances family engagement, leads to reports of good outcomes from families and helps workers operationalize family-centered philosophy and principles in daily practice.

For more information on Collaborative Helping, view our Resources page. If you want to follow-up on this, please contact us.