PATHS (Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies)

Placement on the Continuum of Evidence Effective-RCT Download icon Download PDF
Target Population: 
Antisocial Behavior, Behavioral Problems, Depression, Emotional Competency, Social Competency
Target Audience 

This program is for students who are in 1st to 6th grade.


PATHS® (Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies), a comprehensive school-based program, is designed to encourage social and emotional competencies and prevent violence, aggression, and behavior problems among children.  PATHS also strives to strengthen children's critical thinking skills and improve the classroom climate.


Randomized controlled trials conducted on the original multi-year version of the PATHS program have demonstrated significant improvements in students' social problem-solving skills, emotion recognition skills, and teacher- and parent-rated social competence.  PATHS participants had fewer behavior problems compared to a control group.  Finally, there were reductions in teacher-rated conduct problems and improvements in student aggression, hyperactivity, and peer problems.  No evaluations have been conducted on the also available updated, grade-specific version of the program.


The PATHS curriculum is developed for use in the classroom setting and should be introduced at the entrance of schooling and continue through 5th or 6th grade.  It contains over 250 lessons and is designed to be used as a classroom module with 40 to 52 lessons delivered each year.  PATHS offers separate curriculum for each grade level, such as preschool/kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, and grades 5/6.  Each grade-specific curriculum is divided into three major units:

  • Readiness and Self-Control Unit:  Children are taught a self-control strategy called the Turtle Technique to improve the group process and increase attention.  The Turtle Technique also teaches children to stop and think before reacting to a situation.
  • Feelings and Relationships Unit:  Children are taught emotional socialization.  They learn to identify, label, manage, and express feelings and understand the difference between feelings and behaviors.
  • Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Unit:  Children are taught to identify problems and feelings, generate alternative solutions, evaluate consequences, and select the best plan.

Units also contain lessons that discuss self-awareness skills, nonverbal and verbal communication skills, and how to develop a positive outlook on life.  Family communication materials are incorporated into all the units that include activities for parents/guardians to complete with their children.

Previous Use 

PATHS was developed in the early 1980s and has been field-tested and researched in the United States and abroad with children in regular education classrooms.  In addition, this program has been used with children who have deafness, hearing-impairment, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, mild mental delay, and giftedness.


Training is not required but is recommended to promote successful implementation.  The PATHS training model depends on organizational needs and is tailored to each program site.  However, two models of trainings are offered, on-site or online.  Technical assistance, booster visits, and retraining are also available.  The 2-day, on-site training is $5,000 plus travel expenses.  Online training costs vary depending on the number of participants.  For information on training, please visit

Teachers, school counselors, principals, and other support staff facilitate this program.  

Considerations for implementing this program include obtaining funding for program and training costs; acquiring teacher buy-in; and understanding that strong principal, administrative, and parental support of the PATHS program will assist in successful implementation of the program.

The Clearinghouse can help address these considerations. Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email


If you are interested in implementing PATHS, the Clearinghouse is interested in helping you!
Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email


The PATHS curriculum is taught two to three times a week for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes for a 5-year period.  However, lesson times vary depending on the needs of the participants.


Classroom modules range from $429 to $649 each.  Counselor's Packages range from $2,550 to $3,409 each.  For more information on costs of program materials and to order, please visit

Evaluation Plan 

The Clearinghouse can help you develop an evaluation plan to ensure the program components are meeting your goals.
Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email


Contact the Clearinghouse with any questions regarding this program.
Phone: 1-877-382-9185 Email:

You may also contact Dr. Carol A. Kusche, Developer and Director of PATHS Training LLC, by phone 1-206-323-6688, email or visit

References - Used For Placement 

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 and Practice, 23, 33-44.

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.

Riggs, N. R., Greenberg, M. T., Kusche, 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.

*Resources and associated costs reflect those identified at the time of fact sheet publication.