Respectful Alliances

Respectful Alliances: RAP and PPC

Building positive peer cultures and inspired staff teams

This Circle of Courage course consists of two separate two-day trainings. Response Ability Pathways (RAP) is a basic certification course for all who work with youth. Positive Peer Culture (PPC) offers another level of training for clinicians, group leaders, supervisors, senior youth workers, and educators. These two evidence-based trainings transform trauma into resilience by strengthening Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity.


Response Ability Pathways (RAP) Restoring Bonds of Respect (2-day training)                                         

RAP training provides all who care about and work with young people the practical tools to respond to needs instead of reacting to problems. Lesley du Toit, Pretoria, South Africa

RAP employs three natural, brain-based helping strategies: Connecting for support, Clarifying challenges, and Restoring respect. These relational tools for talking with persons in conflict replace coercion with communication. While there are many crisis-intervention models, RAP provides the simplest research-validated method to turn problems into opportunities for learning and growth. Piloted in South Africa to transform services to young people at risk, RAP has been used worldwide. Co-authors of RAP Larry Brendtro and Lesley du Toit have fully updated this 2-day training to provide essential skills for all who deal with challenging children and youth in any setting. This universal-design course translates research on resilience, trauma, culture, and neuroscience into terms readily understandable by lay person and professional alike. Training is enriched with video clips and experiential learning activities. RAP is relevant to parents, foster parents, educators, youth workers, and clinicians, and can also be taught to young people who help support their peers and family.

Positive Peer Culture (PPC) Building Strengths in Youth (2-day training)

PPC is a peer-helping model designed to improve social competence and cultivate strengths in youth. Care and concern for others is the defining element of PPC. California Evidence-Based Clearing House

PPC training provides advanced, evidence-based strategies for creating positive climates in schools, juvenile justice, residential treatment, and community settings. Youth disconnected from adults often gravitate to negative peer cultures and engage in high-risk behavior. Punishment only intensifies conflict with authority and builds a culture of bullying. Negative peer influence can be reversed by enlisting youth in prosocial helping roles and building respectful bonds with adults. Positive Peer Culture (PPC) has been refined over decades of research on building strengths in troubled youth. Grounded in Circle of Courage principles, this peer-helping model is now listed as a research-based practice.


Course Curriculum

  • Resilience and Positive Youth Development

    • Brain-Based Drives: Attachment, Achievement, Autonomy, Altruism
    • Universal Growth Needs: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, Generosity
    • Powerful Relationships: Family, Peer Group, School, and Community
    • A Paradigm Shift: From Deficit and Disorder to Strength and Wellness
  • The Primacy of Staff Teamwork

    • Staff Cohesion and Participation
    • A Unifying Theme for Reclaiming Youth
    • From Autocratic to Democratic Leadership
    • Constructing Positive Organizational Cultures
  • Creating Climates for Growth

    • Connecting Youth with Adults
    • Creating Positive Peer Cultures
    • Engaging Students in Learning
    • Mobilizing a Caring Community
  • Problems as Learning Opportunities

    • Understanding and Preventing Conflict Cycles
    • Reframing Problems as Unmet Growth Needs
    • Communicating with Kids in Conflict
    • Enlisting Youth in Problem-Solving Groups
  • Strategies for Positive Peer Influence

    • Demanding Responsibility instead of Obedience
    • Tapping Positive Potentials in Negative Leaders
    • Relabelling Behavior to Make Hurting Dissonant
    • Making Caring Fashionable to Reverse Peer Deviance
  • Transforming Troubled Lives

    • From Peer Harassment to Peer Helping
    • Trauma-Wise Principles and Interventions
    • From Antisocial to Prosocial Thinking and Values
    • The Resilient Brain and Enduring Positive Change

Authors and Trainers

Larry Brendtro, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and Professor Emeritus at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan and is a leader in the worldwide reclaiming youth movement. For fourteen years, he was president of the Starr Commonwealth Schools in Michigan and Ohio. He taught in the area of children’s behavior disorders at the University of Illinois, The Ohio State University, and Augustana. Dr. Brendtro served as a member of the U.S. Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. He has authored over 200 professional publications including 15 books on strength-based strategies with children, youth, and families. His wife Janna is research editor for his various publications and they have trained youth professionals in 20 nations.