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Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS)

Blueprints Program Rating: Model

A classroom-based social emotional learning program for elementary school students to reduce aggression and behavior problems.

Program Outcomes

  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Externalizing

Program Type

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Training
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Skills Training
  • Social Emotional Learning

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Model
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 2.6-3.2

Program Information Contact

Channing-Bete Company
One Community Place
South Deerfield, MA 01373-0200
Phone: (800) 477-4776
Fax: (800) 499-6464

Also see:
Contact: Dorothy Morelli
Phone: 615-364-6606

Program Developer/Owner

  • Mark Greenberg and Carol Kusché
  • Co-developers

Brief Description of the Program

The PATHS curriculum is a comprehensive program for promoting emotional and social competencies and reducing aggression and behavior problems in elementary school-aged children (grades K-6) while simultaneously enhancing the educational process in the classroom. The evaluation of the preschool version, called Head Start REDI, is treated separately by Blueprints.

The Grade Level PATHS Curriculum consists of separate volumes of lessons for each grade level (K - 6), all of which include developmentally appropriate pictures, photographs, posters, and additional materials ( Five conceptual domains, integrated in a hierarchical manner, are included in PATHS lessons at each grade level: self-control, emotional understanding, positive self-esteem, relationships, and interpersonal problem-solving skills. Throughout the lessons, a critical focus of PATHS involves facilitating the dynamic relationship between cognitive-affective understanding and real-life situations. PATHS is designed to be taught two to three times per week (or more often if desired, but not less than twice weekly), with daily activities to promote generalization and support ongoing behavior. PATHS lessons follow lesson objectives and provide scripts to facilitate instruction, but teachers have flexibility in adapting these for their particular classroom needs. Although each unit of PATHS focuses on one or more skill domains (e.g., emotional recognition, friendship, self-control, problem solving), aspects of all five major areas are integrated into each unit. Moreover, each unit builds hierarchically upon and synthesizes the learning which preceded it.

The PATHS curriculum is designed to be used by educators and counselors in a multi-year, universal prevention model. To encourage parent involvement and support, parent letters, home activity assignments, and information are also provided.

See: Full Description


Across multiple studies, PATHS relative to a control group showed:

  • Lower rate of conduct problems and externalizing behaviors (e.g., aggression),
  • Lower internalizing scores and depression,
  • Better understanding of cues for recognizing feelings in others,
  • Better ability to resolve peer conflicts, identify feelings, identify problems, and greater empathy for others,
  • Less anger and attribution bias,
  • Reduction in ADHD symptoms, and
  • Better scores on measures of authority acceptance, cognitive concentration, and social competence.
  • Higher test score proficiency in reading, writing, and math
  • Reduction in adolescent delinquency

Significant Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Improvements in social problem solving, emotional understanding, and self-control,
  • Higher scores on peer sociability and social school functioning.

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Although samples have included the entire range of SES strata, as well as children from a wide diversity of ethnic, cultural, and family-structural backgrounds, there has been only one analysis that considered differences in program effects by race (CPPRG 1999). In examining the two sites with sufficiently diverse samples for comparison (Nashville and Seattle), it found similar program effects among African Americans and European Americans.

For gender, one analysis found that PATHS boys had improved scores as contrasted with comparison boys on the overall teacher ratings of behavior and the dimensions of frustration tolerance and peer sociability. Another study found no gender differences on prosocial behaviors and emotional regulation as rated by teachers, although peers rated control boys as more aggressive and hyperactive than intervention boys (CPPRG, 2010).

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Antisocial/aggressive behavior, Early initiation of antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Hyperactivity*
  • School: Low school commitment and attachment, Repeated a grade
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Clear standards for behavior, Problem solving skills*, Prosocial behavior, Skills for social interaction*
  • Peer: Interaction with prosocial peers
  • School: Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education, Rewards for prosocial involvement in school

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

PATHS program training is usually done on site at a school or school district. The initial training workshop consists of two separate days scheduled approximately 4-8 weeks apart. The first day provides teachers/trainees with theory, research background, lessons modeled by the trainer, practice to prepare teachers to use PATHS lessons, and implementation planning. During the 4-8 week period prior to the second day of training, teachers gain initial experience with the curriculum. This leads to a more interactive learning experience on the second workshop day since teachers have had some realistic experiences with lesson implementation. Trainer and teachers discuss advanced curriculum issues, trade ideas and engage in problem solving, and teachers model interactive lessons. Another option is to schedule training for two consecutive days.

For optimal implementation, sites should consider additional training/technical assistance activities each year. Ongoing consultation and booster visits are available and are often desired by comprehensive, long-term implementations. The trainer can provide a booster visit each year (one day in length) to meet with the staff and provide continued professional development. One day of fidelity visits is another option, in which the trainer visits schools, observes lessons, etc. The trainer can also provide ongoing consultation by means of regularly scheduled phone calls/conference calls and on-call email consultation with the school’s or agency’s PATHS coordinator.

In addition to training for teachers, when a multi-school site implementation is conducted, separate training workshops are also provided to school principals on issues in building-wide use and principal leadership. Additional trainings can be arranged for other school staff.

Training for PATHS coaches—a position often utilized by larger implementations to provide feedback, ideas, and encouragement to classroom teachers implementing the PATHS program—typically involves six on-site trainer visits per year, for training, observation, and continued professional development in social-emotional learning. Every-other-week team conference calls typically take place in between on-site training sessions, with everyone checking in to engage in problem-solving and receive additional professional development.

Training and technical assistance is available from two sources:

PATHS™ Education Worldwide
Dorothy Morelli, CEO

Carol A. Kusché, Ph.D.
PATHS® Training LLC
927 10th Ave. East
Seattle, WA 98102

Training Certification Process

The PATHS Training Program is designed to develop highly experienced, high quality trainers who are fully competent to provide training in the PATHS Curriculum to their local educational entity. Trainers can include staff (teachers, support staff, staff developers) from local school districts/boards, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and non-profit agencies focused on the promotion of children’s mental health and youth development. PATHS Training LLC trains these qualified “educators” to conduct school-based or regional workshops for the preparation of teachers and school support staff who plan to implement PATHS Curricula within these educational entities. Once certified, PATHS Trainers conduct workshops and provide follow-up technical assistance and coaching services for their district or regional personnel in accordance with the PATHS workshop training materials, agenda and guidelines.

To be considered as an Affiliate Trainer requires meeting the following prerequisites:

  • High Quality Performance for at least two years as a PATHS teacher or PATHS Coach
  • Master’s degree (or comparable credentials)
  • Classroom experience with students in a learner role (teaching, administration, and school counseling preferred)
  • Training experience with educators

After meeting the pre-requisites above, the requirements to be certified as a trainer include participation in the following four-step training/certification process. The AT candidate(s) receive four days of coaching from a PATHS Senior Trainer in addition to participation in an Observation Workshop and two Shared Workshops. The first day of coaching follows the Observation Workshop. The second day precedes the Shared Workshop. The third day follows the Shared Workshop in preparation for the second Shared Workshop. The fourth day follows the second Shared Workshop in preparation for certification as a PATHS trainer. The primary purpose of the coaching days are to provide detailed and personalized instruction in how to conduct the PATHS workshop and to observe and provide feedback on candidates’ training skills. Candidates who successfully complete the program are certified as Affiliate Trainers.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Results from randomized and quasi-experimental studies published between 1983 and 2014 are described here. Evaluations have examined the effectiveness of the PATHS curriculum on the emotional development of elementary school-aged children using random assignment to either a treatment condition or a control group. These evaluations have included three different populations including children in regular education, deaf/hearing impaired, and a variety of special education-classified children. The intervention model focused on increasing children's ability to discuss emotions, utilize a larger emotions vocabulary, and understand meta-cognitive aspects of emotions (e.g., awareness of cues for recognizing emotions in oneself and others, understanding display rules, simultaneity of emotional experience, and strategies for changing emotional states), effectively manage peer conflict and peer relations, and utilize self-control and emotional regulation skills to resolve both intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict. Two independent replications of PATHS using cluster randomized designs are also reported (Crean & Johnson, 2013; Schonfeld et al., 2014). Crean & Johnson (2013) examined program effects on children's aggression outcomes, while Schonfeld et al. (2014) examined child academic outcomes. In addition, a longitudinal study is reported that examines adolescent delinquency, substance use and antisocial behavior outcomes of students from schools randomized to one of four conditions (PATHS, Triple-P, PATHS+Triple-P, control) seven and nine years after program commencement (Averdijk et al., 2016).

Peer Implementation Sites

Denine Goolsby
Executive Director Humanware
Cleveland Public Schools
1111 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
PH: 216-838-0107

Flavia Hernandez, Principal
McCormick Elementary School
Chicago Public Schools
2712 S. Sawyer Avenue
Chicago, IL 60623
PH: 773-535-7252

Carmen Navarro, Principal
Mariano Azuela Elementary School
Chicago Public Schools
3707 W. Marquette Road
Chicago, IL 60629
PH: 773-535-7395

Caroline Boxmeyer, Associate Professor University of Alabama
Hale County/Sawyerville Head Start Center
850th 5th Avenue East
Box 870326
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
PH: 205-348-1325


Averdijk, M., Zirk-Sadowski, J., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. (2016). Long-term effects of two childhood psychosocial interventions on adolescent delinquency, substance use, and antisocial behavior: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 12, 21-47.

Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2010). The effects of a multiyear universal social-emotional learning program: The role of student and school characteristics. Journal of Consulting and Continuing Psychology, 78(2), 156-168.

Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (Karen Bierman, John Coie, Kenneth Dodge, Mark Greenburg, John Lochman, Robert McMahon, and Ellen Pinderhughes). (1999). Initial Impact of the Fast Track prevention trial for conduct problems: I. The high-risk sample. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 631-647.

Crean, H. F., & Johnson, D. B. (2013). Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies (PATHS) and elementary school aged children's aggression: Results from a cluster randomized trial. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52, 56-72.

Curtis, C., & Norgate, R. (2007). An evaluation of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies curriculum at key stage 1. Educational Psychology in Practice, 23, 33-44.

Eisner, M. P., Malti, T., & Ribeaud, D. (2011). Large-scale criminological field experiments. In D. Gadd, S. Karstedt, & S.F. Messner (Eds), Sage handbook of criminological research methods(pp. 410-424). London: Sage.

Greenberg, M. T., & Kusche, C. A. (1998). Preventive intervention for school-aged deaf children: The PATHS Curriculum. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 3, 49-63.

Greenberg, M. T., Kusche, C. A., Cook, E. T., & Quamma, J. P. (1995). Promoting emotional competence in school-aged children: The effects of the PATHS curriculum. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 117-136.

Kam, C., Greenberg, M. T., & Kusché, C. A. (2004). Sustained effects of the PATHS curriculum on the social and psychological adjustment of children in special education. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12, 66-78.

Kam, C., Greenberg, M. T., & Walls, C. T. (2003). Examining the role of implementation quality in school-based prevention using PATHS Curriculum. Prevention Science, 4, 55-63.

Little, M., Berry, V., Morpeth, L., Blower, S., Axford, N., Taylor, R., ... Tobin, K. (2012). The impact of three evidence-based programmes delivered in public systems in Birmingham, UK. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 6(2), 260-272.

Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. P. (2011). The effectiveness of two universal preventive interventions in reducing children’s externalizing behavior: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40(5), 677-692.

Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. (2012). Effectiveness of a universal school-based social competence program: The role of child characteristics and economic factors. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 6, 249-259.

Riggs, N. R., Greenberg, M. T., Kusché, C. A., & Pentz, M. A. (2006). The mediational role of neurocognition in the behavioral outcomes of a social-emotional prevention program in elementary school students: Effects of the PATHS curriculum. Prevention Science, 7, 91-102.

Schonfeld, D. J., Adams, R. E., Fredstrom, B. K., Weissberg, R. P., Gilman, R., Voyce, C., T... Speese-Linehan, D. (2014). Cluster-randomized trial demonstrating impact on academic achievement of elementary social-emotional learning. School Psychology Quarterly, advance online publication.

Seifert, R., Gouley, K., Miller, A.L., & Zabriski, A. (2004). Implementation of the PATHS curriculum in an urban elementary school. Early Education & Development, 15(4), 471-486.