Diane Kooser

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End the Year with a Month Full of Kindness

Posted by Diane Kooser

Give a little, get a lot. Count down to 2017, with a daily act of kindness 

What does Mrs. Claus do when Santa is busy making toys for all good girls and boys? She runs a club to support women who are undergoing cancer treatment.

The Mrs. Claus Club started in Bentleyville, Pa., with the realization that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for women with lives already filled with stress and anxiety from their diagnosis. Club members provide food baskets and other holiday cheer.

mst kindness picture.jpg

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Taking a Softer Approach to School Discipline

Posted by Diane Kooser

What kind of discipline is most effective in schools?

One of my favorite things about social media in August is seeing all the back-to-school photos from my friends and family. It seems like everyone is shopping, planning and gearing up for a successful school year. Amid all the shopping, I see memes about school discipline. Some clearly advocate for little to no tolerance of student misbehavior while others seek a softer approach.alternative_school_discipline.jpg

One of my favorite back-to-school pictures from this year

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Wondering How MST Works? Watch This Video

Posted by Diane Kooser

Powerful video testimony of an MST mother

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then a video is worth a million. At least, this video is. A strong and courageous mom shared her journey with Multisystemic Therapy (MST) at the Blueprints Conference in Colorado.


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Topics: success stories,, MST pre-conference

Multisystemic Therapy Results Still Strong after 13 Years

Posted by Diane Kooser

Chance encounter brings joy and meaning to MST therapist

“Is he throwing rocks down the slide? He is. He’s throwing rocks down the slide. Maybe Bill will correct him...” My internal dialogue on whether to scold my 5-year-old nephew or wait for my husband didn’t last long. 

Whenever we babysit our nephews, Bill takes care of the life-and-death situations. He makes sure to address those strongly and swiftly. Everything else? My domain. I spoke reluctantly, “Dylan, don’t throw rocks down the slide.” Typically, I’d give him a rationale. I’d explain that he could scratch or dent the slide, and he was holding up the children behind him. But I wanted to speak quickly, hoping that the moment wouldn’t be broken.


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Topics: MST outcomes, success stories,

6 Ways to Protect Your Child from Harmful Social-Media and Drug Trends

Posted by Diane Kooser

Harmful social-media and drug trends incredibly accessible to youth

Do you know what the “Put ’Em in a Coffin” challenge is? Ever heard of flakka? Chances are the teens in your life know about these and more, or are about to find out. While parents, caregivers, therapists and school staff catch up on each other’s milestones on Facebook, the current social-media and drug trends are passing by well-intentioned adults. In the meantime, our youth are at risk.


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Topics: Empowering parents

The Serial Podcast from a Multisystemic Therapy Perspective

Posted by Diane Kooser

We, as a nation, are sometimes riveted to something in our popular culture that we can’t stop talking about it and wait anxiously for the next episode or revelation. We speculated about Walter White’s motivation and moral compass as we collectively watched “Breaking Bad.” We repeated snippets of dialogue and mourned many deaths on “Downton Abbey.” Today, it’s not a TV show that has captured our national attention. it’s a podcast, “Serial.”serial

For many listeners, it’s a true “Did He Do It?” Did Adnan Syed, then 17, kill his former girlfriend? Did he, along with a small time drug dealer named Jay, drive her body and ditch it in a park, as Jay told police? Or was Syed at a library across from his high school, as one witness named Asia, who was never called to testify, maintains?

It’s a murky, complicated 15-year-old case that sent Syed, declaring his innocence, to jail for life. Most people were drawn to the podcast because of the mystery and anticipation for the next installment. They have theories about the case and how information was highlighted or downplayed, based on personal perspective. The Marshall Project interviewed legal minds right before episode 11, and it’s no surprise that lawyers leaned toward explanations and theories that were consistent with whether they “played offense or defense.”   I am drawn to it, in great part, because I filter everything through my MST lens.

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Topics: Serial Podcast, Multisystemic Therapy

Try giving them Popiscle sticks instead of suspending pre-K students in DC

Posted by Diane Kooser

If it weren't in the Washington Post, you might not believe it. For the school year (SY) 2012-2013, 180 DC students in pre-kindergarten were suspended. Pre-kindergarten, kids aged 30 months to 5 years. And what could they possibly have done to merit being kicked out of class? Try tantrums, vulgarity and yes, bathroom accidents.

An Independent council member in the District of Columbia, David Grosso wants to put an end this "ridiculous policy" and has introduced legislation to ban the suspension and expulsion of pre-kindergarten children in the District of Columbia.   In additional to legislation, here's a better way to manage children in the classroom.

Dylan_KindergartenMy youngest nephew, Dylan, started kindergarten in SY 2013-2014. After his first few days of school, he told my husband Bill and me about kindergarten and explained some of the classroom behavior management strategy. “If you do something good, you get a Popsicle stick. After you get 10 Popsicle sticks, you can trade them in for a prize.  Guess what one of the prizes is? You can take off your shoes in the classroom!” When Bill asked, “Is that what you’re saving your sticks for?” Dylan answered with a “Yes!” that was pure enthusiasm. 

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Topics: Zero Tolerance, school to prison pipeline

Blackfish versus Kids for Cash. Where is our moral outrage?

Posted by Diane Kooser


I love documentaries. Just ask Netflix. My “Things Diane Might Like” section routinely populates with new ones. In the past six months, I’ve watched two outstanding, thought provoking, and emotional documentaries. Blackfish about the death of Seaworld Trainer, Dawn Brancheau and the negative effects of keeping killer whales in captivity. And, Kids for Cash about a scandal in Luzerne County, PA where Judge Mark Chiavarella and Judge Michael Conahan  received payments for placing young people in a privatized juvenile detention facility. 

Like Blackfish, Kids for Cash outlines the negative impact of placing young people outside of their families and natural ecologies. While I see parallels between these two documentaries, I also see a striking difference in the general response to the films.kidsforcash

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Topics: Kids for Cash, Blackfish, zero tolerance

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