PLEA is a public-sector, non-profit agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that provides a range of services to a population of children, adolescents and adults with mental health diagnoses. The agency’s School-Based Partial Hospital Program (SBPHP) provides all the services of a hospital to patients with diagnoses on the Autistic Spectrum, although the youngsters go home at night to their families. The SBPHP has grown over the past forty years from a preschool started by parents desperately seeking services for their Autistic children to a program operating based in principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Given that Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) is based in ABA both philosophically in the form of Functional Contextualism and pragmatically in such principles as functional analysis and reinforcement, it was a natural fit for PLEA to begin incorporating ACT into service delivery, first as in-service trainings to better support our staff in their daily work, and then as increasingly important components of the treatment we provide to children and families.

While PLEA personnel continued to develop increasing expertise with ACT’s model of Psychological Flexibility, particularly as reflected in the form of the Matrix diagram, ACT underwent progressive transformation from clinical to administrative functions, such that it became central to the agency’s system of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM). Over the past few years, Prosocial, an approach integrating the ACT Matrix with the Core Design Principles of Successful Groups for which Elinor Ostrom won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics, also has been introduced at various levels within the organization. Now that Prosocial is becoming part of administrative operations at PLEA, plans currently are being developed for PLEA’s Executive Director, who herself has completed the online Prosocial Facilitators Course offered by Dr. Paul Atkins to conduct Prosocial training with the agency’s Board of Directors. In addition, as part of two grants PLEA received to provide ACT training to its clinical and administrative personnel, the agency committed to developing its “ACT Institute,” pledging to develop a program of consultation to other provider agencies throughout Western Pennsylvania.

In this video, PLEA’s Executive Director, Clinical Director and Medical Director share the story of how Prosocial has been evolving into PLEA’s approach both to OBM internally and to organizational consultation and training externally.

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