Training on the COS Intensive Protocol – Circle of Security International

Training on the Circle of Security
Intensive Protocol


he first Circle of Security intervention was an intensive group model that used individualized assessment of each dyad (using the Strange Situation Procedure and the Circle of Security Interview) to create a video-based treatment plan focused on shifting the attachment relationship toward security. A comprehensive overview of the protocol, 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, which was run as a 20-week group, has been studied and you can read an overview of the data from the initial study of the COS Intensive group model and see download the other related publications on our research page. While you’re at it, 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 Circle of Security has meant to her are powerful.

Traditionally, the pathway for licensed clinicians interested in becoming certified to conduct this initial group model (what we now call the COS Intensive protocol) started with a 10-day in person training. 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 a certified COS Intensive supervisor. Supervision involved completing multiple groups--a process that often took more than two years. Individual supervision was intensive but also costly.

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

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

Our team at COS-International is now creating a new pathway to becoming a certified COS Intensive provider. This pathway is depicted in the figure below and begins with becoming a Registered COSP Facilitator. Facilitators working with caregivers who have a history of trauma, mental health issues or a combination of risk factors are likely to encounter dyads for whom individualized, extended intervention is indicated. While the COS-Intensive training has been created for licensed clinicians with experience as psychotherapists, this training benefits other providers as an organizational framework to enhance their work with COSP. However, non-clinicians are not eligible to complete clinical supervision—the last leg on the pathway to becoming endorsed as COS-Intensive Provider.

Instead of a 10-day seminar, we are currently piloting a 5-day in person training that focuses on the individualized assessment at the heart of the COS Intensive protocol. Following completion of this 5-day training, video-based cases will be available on our online learning portal for review. Each clinician will be able to work independently to create treatment plans after reviewing dyadic interactions and caregiver interviews that we have securely posted online. Supervision 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 supervision is possible. Check back for updates on the supervision process as it becomes available.

Our goal is to continue to develop online learning opportunities for clinicians interested in becoming COS Intensive providers. Online learning is more convenient, saving significant travel costs for participant and trainer alike. We are hopeful that, when online self-directed learning is paired with online video sessions with a trainer, we will be able to offer COS Intensive training more broadly. At the same time, the development of online training that captures the art of psychotherapy is a complex endeavor. We plan to be systematic in deconstructing our 10-day training--creating high quality online offerings piece-by-piece until we are satisfied with the evolution of the COS Intensive training pathway.

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.