Response Ability Pathways (RAP)

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Restoring Bonds of Respect

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

This foundation course puts the Circle of Courage model into practice to meet needs for Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. Response Ability Pathways gives helpers the abilities to respond to needs and enables youth to take pathways to responsibility. RAP uses three natural brain-based problem-solving strategies: Connecting for support, Clarifying challenges, and Restoring respect. Problems become learning opportunities as cooperation replaces conflict. These helping strategies are universal across cultures, designed in our DNA to enable humans to support one another and live in harmony. RAP co-authors Larry Brendtro and Lesley du Toit translate 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, mentors, educators, youth workers, clinicians, and youth who gain skills to help their peers and family.

RAP Course Learning Objectives

  1. Review contributions of historic pioneers in strength-based education and youthwork.
  2. Explore Indigenous Circle of Courage and trauma-wise, resilience-focused principles:
    Belonging: Create cohesive groups that eliminate peer abuse and rejection.
    Mastery: Teach youth specific methods to identify and resolve problems.
    Independence: Build self-control and self-efficacy while respecting the rights of others.
    Generosity: Create a community of caring by developing empathy and concern.
  3. Understand the impact of adversity and trauma on children and youth.
  4. Practice natural brain-based RAP strategies for talking with persons in conflict:
    Connect for Support by building trust and empathy.
    Clarify Challenges by exploring critical events and developing insight.
    Restore Respect by providing strengths and supports to meet developmental needs.


Larry K. Brendtro
Larry K. Brendtro, PhD

Larry K. Brendtro, PhD, has a doctorate from the University of Michigan specializing in children and youth with behavioral challenges. He has broad experience in youth work, education, and psychology, and served 14 years as President of Starr Commonwealth operating residential treatment and alternative schools in Michigan and Ohio. Dr. Brendtro was a member of the U.S. Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during the administrations of Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama. He has been a professor at the University of Illinois, The Ohio State University, and Augustana University. Larry with his wife, Janna, as research editor collaborated in publishing over 200 articles and 18 books on building strengths in youth. He and Lakota psychologist Martin Brokenleg developed the Circle of Courage model, linking Indigenous wisdom on raising children in cultures of respect with research on resilience and youth development. Dr. Brendtro has trained youth professionals worldwide through the nonprofit organization Reclaiming Youth at Risk.

Robert Foltz, PsyD

Robert Foltz, PsyD, co-trainer with Larry Brendtro in RAP and PPC, is an associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in the Clinical Doctoral Program. He also has a private practice in the Chicago area, working primarily with youth experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties. Dr. Foltz is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience with troubled children and youth. His professional roles include both administrative and clinical responsibilities in the delivery of care to troubled youth in residential and community settings. Dr. Foltz has published extensively about the benefits and drawbacks of psychotropic medication with children and adolescents and how young people respond to relational psychosocial approaches such as the Circle of Courage. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Association of Children’s Residential and Community services (ACRC) and is a member of the board of Reclaiming Youth at Risk.