The COS-Intensive Training Pathway

Case-Based Trainings on Promoting Security in Caregiver-Child Relationships


he first Circle of Security intervention came to life in the late 1990’s. Initially developed as an intensive group model that relied on individualized assessment of each dyad to create a video-based treatment plan focused on shifting the attachment relationship toward security, the Circle of Security Intervention has been adopted in various parts of the world. A comprehensive overview of the initial Circle of Security Intervention, including a review of the theory behind the intervention and step-by-step analysis of the treatment approach, brought to life with case studies, was published as The Circle of Security Intervention in 2014.

This initial COS intervention—now called the COS-Intensive model-- was run as a 20-week group. You can read an overview of the data from the initial study of the group intervention on our research page. While you’re there you can download our bibliography which cites other more recent studies of both the COS-Intensive model and the more recently developed COSP program.

If you’re wanting to understand the impact of Circle of Security-Intensive from a client’s viewpoint, check out the remarkable story of Tonier Cain--a graduate of a group conducted as part of an innovative prison-based program here. Tonier’s reflections on what going through the COS-Intensive model has meant to her are powerful.

Evolution of the COS-Intensive Model

Over the years, dozens of practitioners around the world have gone through extensive training and supervision to become endorsed as Circle of Security Intensive providers. The story of two child psychologists in Boras, Sweden gives a sense of the dedication required to deliver such an intensive psychotherapy model. Karin and Emma began offering COS-Intensive in 2016 with high-risk parents and, as with all our COS-Intensive providers around the world, we are inspired by their story. To learn about Karin and Emma’s journey, click on the COS Intensive in Sweden story on our COSP in the Community page.

Traditionally, the pathway for licensed clinicians interested in becoming endorsed to conduct the COS-Intensive model started with a 10-day training that was only available in person. Following the training, clinicians interested in becoming certified as COS-Intensive providers prepared on their own for our case-based exam and, once they passed that exam, those interested were matched with an experienced COS-Intensive supervisor. Supervision involved completing multiple groups--a process that often took more than two years. Typically, the supervision was 1:1, which made it costly.

With the advent of the Circle of Security Parenting program, a new approach to the psychoeducational portion of the COS-Intensive model was created; video segments from the COSP program were used as part of the COS-Intensive model. Many COS-Intensive providers also started their training journey with the COSP program. Clinicians also began using the COS-Intensive model with individual clients, including dyads with children older than preschool age, making COS-Intensive more accessible to families.

For an interesting case study and a review of the updates to the COS-Intensive model, we recommend reading this paper written by Ellen Andrews and Joe Coyne.

Evolution of the COS-Intensive Training Pathway

Our team at COS-International is excited that the COS-Intensive model is now more accessible to families. We have undergone a planful process to also make training in the COS-Intensive model more accessible to providers. The new pathway to endorsement as a COS-Intensive provider is depicted in the figure below. The pathway begins with training in the COSP program. Learning the COSP program means learning the basics of attachment theory and science and how that theory and science is applied in a relationship-based intervention. However, we’ve learned from COSP providers around the world that working with caregivers who have a history of trauma, mental health issues or a combination of risk factors means encountering dyads for whom individualized, extended intervention is indicated.

Details of the COS-Intensive Training Pathway

COSP Training

Step 1 on the pathway to becoming a COS-Intensive provider is completing the COSP training. Practitioners may complete this training online or in person and the cost is $1000 USD per person (though group discounts are available). Most practitioners want to become Registered COSP Facilitators, but those not interested in facilitating the COSP program can choose to audit this course for $700 USD; auditors do not get the COSP program manual and video, do not sign the Facilitator contract allowing use of these materials with caregivers and don't have access to our member's side of the website following training. Register for the COSP Training here. If you plan to audit the COSP training, please contact us at info [at] circleofsecurityinternational [dot] com.

5-Day In Person COS-Intensive Assessment Training

Step 2 on the pathway is the COS-Intensive Assessment Training, which is currently available only in an in-person format that spans 5 days and costs $1500 USD. This training focuses on the individualized assessment at the heart of the COS-Intensive model. Providers learn how to conduct and analyze the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) and the Circle of Security-Interview (COSI’s) which are the core assessment tools used for the COS-Intensive model. A primary focus of this training is on identifying the key attachment issue impacting a caregiver-child dyad (called the “Linchpin Issue”) as revealed by this systematic assessment. A secondary focus of the training is on identifying the caregiver’s core sensitivity, which helps guide the clinician in conducting the treatment model. [Note: for interested clinicians, there are other learning opportunities to learn more about the core sensitivities (see below under the Optional Trainings heading)]. Providers are given the COS-Intensive Assessment manual at this training, which will allow them to conduct the comprehensive assessments in their practice settings. Register for this training here.

Online Intensive Case Review

Step 3 on the pathway is what we call the Case Review Course, an online course that allows providers to work independently to review dyadic interactions (SSP’s) and caregiver interviews (COSI’s) that we have securely posted on our learning website. This online case review will be self-guided, allowing those who’ve completed the COS-Intensive Assessment training the opportunity to practice identifying dyad’s Linchpin Issues. There are more than 6 hours of online video review and the cost is set at $750 USD. Two-hour blocks of optional consultation with a COS-Intensive supervisor are available for $370 USD per block for those providers who want to discuss their case formulations via videoconference. You can register for this course here.

Online Intro to Treatment Series

Step 4 on the pathway begins the part of the training that is for licensed clinicians only (see below). This is an online course series that focuses on key principles of the COS-Intensive Treatment. It is here that eligible providers are first exposed to the Treatment phase of the model, including the Treatment manual. This course series starts with a short course focused on the concept of Being With as applied to the therapist: client relationship. Participants will explore how the therapeutic stance is connected to the concept of Being With. A separate course that details the key steps of the intervention process follows. In this second course of the series, participants will learn about how selection of clips from the modified Strange Situation Procedure are used to tell a story to the Caregiver—a story that allows them to get into vulnerability and understand where on the Circle they struggle to meet their child’s needs.

Case-Based Consultation with Certified COS-Intensive Supervisor

Step 5 on the pathway is case-based consultation. This is the final step on the path to endorsement and will be conducted via secure sharing of video assessments gathered by the trainee and regular online meetings reviewing video of the clinician’s COS-Intensive intervention cases. Small group case consultation is recommended and is less costly than individual case consultation. For questions about the process and cost of case consultation, please reach out to neil [at] circleofsecurityinternational [dot] com.

Who is Eligible for COS-Intensive Provider Training?

While the COS-Intensive training was primarily created for licensed clinicians with experience as psychotherapists, we allow non-clinicians to take Steps 1, 2 and 3 on the training pathway. We have found that the 5-day In Person COS-Intensive Assessment training and the Online COS-Intensive Case Review training provide an excellent organizational framework to enhance facilitation of COSP and increase the ‘seeing and guessing skills’ at the heart of all the COS intervention models. However, only licensed clinicians can move on to Steps 4 and 5 on the pathway as these steps are focused on Treatment instead of Assessment.

Endorsement as a COS-Intensive Provider requires being a licensed clinician trained in psychotherapy.* There are many disciplines worldwide who are eligible for licensure to provide psychotherapy so we don’t have specific degree or discipline requirements; in the US and Europe, however, licensure generally requires at least a master's degree or higher. If you are not eligible for licensure as a clinician who is able to provide psychotherapy, you may still complete steps 1-3 on the COS-Intensive learning pathway.

*Exceptions are made only for students enrolled in graduate training as clinical psychotherapists at partner University-based programs.

Working With a Team

While we have worked hard to make the COS-Intensive protocol and this training pathway more accessible to individual practitioners, including those in private practice, we have learned that most practitioners prefer both learning and implementing COS-Intensive as part of a team. Reflecting with a close colleague as you learn COS-Intensive is very helpful. Furthermore, providers often tell us that working alone with this model is difficult. Having a colleague to share circle stories with is not just helpful, it prevents isolation and burnout.

Optional Learning

During the COS-Intensive Assessment, the concept of how caregiver’s core sensitivities might inform their struggles on the Circle of Security is introduced. We have found that learning about core sensitivities is of great value for many clinicians. For those less familiar with the concept of psychological defenses in relationships learning more about core sensitivities is helpful. We therefore recommend that all COS-Intensive providers consider taking our guided learning experience entitled “The Human Condition: A Journey Through the Core Sensitivities.” The "Human Condition" includes both self-guided learning and live videoconference sessions. You can find more information here.

If you have questions about our current COS-Intensive training pathway, or wish to receive updates as that pathway evolves, please contact us at info [at] circleofsecurityinternational [dot] com.

COS-Intensive Assessment Training

As depicted in the pathway above, The COS-Intensive Assessment Training is step 2 on the pathway to becoming endorsed as a COS-Intensive provider. This training is currently available only as a 5-day In Person course (except in Norway, where the traditional complete 9-day Training is still available—see details below). The COS-Intensive Assessment training is a case-based training that covers the backbone of the COS-Intensive protocol: how to identify a dyad’s key struggle (what we call the “Linchpin Issue”) from structured, comprehensive attachment assessment. The training also introduces providers to our Assessment manual, provides an overview of Core Sensitivities and reviews how to conduct and unpack the Strange Situation Procedure and the Circle of Security Interview. Other than in Scandinavia, training is COS-Intensive is only available in English at this time.

An overview of COS Intensive Assessment.

Register for COS-Intensive Assessment Training







Dates:Start: Jan 9, 2023
End:  Feb 15, 2023


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Dates:Start: April 17, 2023
End:  April 21, 2023


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