I Can Problem Solve (ICPS)

Originally called Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving (also ICPS), I Can Problem Solve is a universal, social and emotional learning (SEL) program designed to build interpersonal thinking and problem-solving skills for children, ages 4-11, grades Pre-K-5. The ICPS lessons are presented in the form of games, role plays and puppet experiences, all focused on developing students’ interpersonal cognitive problem-solving skills. The ICPS skills include:
  • Use of pre-problem-solving vocabulary and skills
  • Identifying feelings in self and others
  • Developing alternative solutions to problems
  • Use of consequential thinking -Means-ends thinking

ICPS skills are introduced sequentially to promote optimal skill acquisition. Similarly, program lessons are differentiated for different grade levels. ICPS lessons should be conducted at least 2-3 times per week for a period of 3-5 months. To provide an opportunity for all children to participate, preschool and kindergarten lessons should be conducted in small groups of 10 or fewer students. From first grade on, it is more feasible to conduct the lessons with the whole class.

This program is approved for WV Expanded School Mental Health.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

The goals of I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) are:
  • Improve Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving (ICPS) skills:
    • Alternative solution thinking
    • Consequential thinking
    • Sequenced planning (means-ends thinking) skills, if 8-12 years old

Prevent or reduce early high-risk behaviors:

  • Physical, verbal, and relational aggression
  • Inability to wait and cope with frustration
  • Social withdrawal
  • Foster genuine empathy and concern for others
  • Foster positive peer relations
  • Increase cooperation and fairness that promote healthy relationships with peers -and adults
  • Improve academic achievement as an outgrowth of less stress fostered by ICPS skills that allow children to concentrate on the task-oriented demands of the classroom

Continuum of Care:
Indicated Prevention, Selective Prevention, Universal Prevention

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Disruptive Behaviors

Childhood (4-12)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:

Cultural Considerations:
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations

Children in preschool through grade 5.

This program is implemented by classroom teachers.


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Please use the following form to contact the developers about further training questions: https://share.hsforms.com/1vPntH8bwQN671GF2_Bm-hgblrw0

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Max G. Magnussen, Anthony P. Mannarino, Monica Christy, & Joseph A. Durlak. (2002). Evaluation of social competence training in the schools. Journal of School Psychology, 20, 11–19.

Dos Santos Elias, L. C., Marturano, E. M., de Almeida Motta, A. M., & Giurlani, A. G. (2003). Treating Boys with Low School Achievement and Behavior Problems: Comparison of Two Kinds of Intervention. Psychological Reports, 92(1), 105.

Shure, M. B., & Spivack, G. (1982). Interpersonal problem-solving in young children: A cognitive approach to prevention. American Journal of Community Psychology, 10(3), 341–356. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00896500

Boyle, D., & Hassett-Walker, C. (2008). Reducing Overt and Relational Aggression Among Young Children: The Results from a Two-Year Outcome Evaluation. Journal of School Violence, 7(1), 27–42. https://doi.org/10.1300/J202v07n01_03

Kumpfer, K. L., Alvarad, R., Tait, C., & Turner, C. (2002). Effectiveness of School-Based Family and Childrenʼs Skills Training for Substance Abuse Prevention Among 6–8-Year-Old Rural Children. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16 Suppl 4, S65–S71.

Shure, M. B., & Spivack, G. (1979). Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving and Primary Prevention: Programming for Preschool and Kindergarten Children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 8(2), 89. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374417909532894

Aras, Y. C., & Aslan, D. (2018). The Effects of “I Can Problem Solve Program” on Children’s Perspective Taking Abilities.

Myrna B. Shure, & George Spivack. (2003). Interpersonal problem solving as a mediator of behavioral adjustment in preschool and kindergarten children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 1, 29–44.

Additional Sources:


Well-Supported by Research

WV Rating:
Well-Supported by Research
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

Multiple well-designed RCTs that lead to similar positive outcomes across multiple clinically-relevant samples replicated by more than one research group. All but one study is over 10 years old.

Contraindications or Concerns:
None identified

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Promising Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Promising - More than one study

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry