Research & Publications

We evaluate the effectiveness of our programs through research with professors and students from Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities while engaging in research to aid in the development of improved client assessments. We also publish ideas and procedures for collaboration, counseling and mediation.

Publication on Collaborative Approach to School Safety, 2000

AVC Model for School Safety Assessment, November-December 2000 issue, The Illinois School Board Journal, by Diana McCauley (CSI Education Consultant) and Carol A. Reitan (CSI President/CEO), pp 21-24.

Research on Effectiveness of CSI OPTIONS Program, 2004

Youth Violence

An Exploratory Study of a Treatment Program in Central Illinois, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Vol.48, Number 6, December 2004, by Julia Bozarth and Cheryl Gaines (CSI Counselors), and Sesha Kethineni and Lisa Blimling (Illinois State University), pp.697-719.


A research study at the Collaborative Solutions Institute (CSI), Bloomington, IL OPTIONS program has been published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology*. The study indicates that after OPTIONS treatment there was a dramatic decrease in violence of youth who in the past displayed threatening or abusive behaviors in their home, their school or the community.

According to the study, youth violence has become commonplace in our society. In the year 2000, there were 2.4 million arrests involving persons under the age of 18, many for violent offenses. Violent and aggressive youth are often placed in juvenile correctional facilities at young ages, often not receiving the treatment they need, thereby continuing their aggressive tendencies.

In response to youth violence, treatment programs have been created to intervene and stop the aggressive behaviors of youth. One such program was implemented in McLean County, Illinois by a local treatment provider, Collaborative Solutions Institute, who created the OPTIONS program. The program targeted and treated youth who were at risk of violent, aggressive, and/or criminal behavior. The program continues to provide individual and family counseling.

The three year research of the OPTIONS program included characteristics of 100 juveniles and their families to determine if program participation helped reduce the severity of violence while improving communication skills among program participants. Referrals came from law enforcement, juvenile court services, school resource officers, and parents. Program youth showed a dramatic improvement in communication skills while reducing their levels of dangerousness.

The study was authored by Julia Madden Bozarth, MA, MS, LCPC and Cheryl Gaines, MS, LCPC, President and CEO, both of Collaborative Solutions Institute, Bloomington, IL, in collaboration with Dr. Sesha Kethineni and Lisa Blimling of Illinois State University.

Collaborative Solutions Institute (CSI) developed the OPTIONS program to prevent and intervene in adolescent aggression, mental health issues and anger management. CSI works in the therapeutic field of violence intervention and mental health and continues state of the art research in facilitating and understanding the effect of violence, mental illness, conflict resolution and problem solving with individuals, families, community and corporate entities.

Research on Effectiveness on CSI RESOLVE Program’s Victim-Offender Mediation, 2005


The Effect of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs on Criminal Recidivism, by Amy M. Rohalla, Illinois Wesleyan University, Spring 2005 was conducted on results of the program at Collaborative Solutions Institute, Bloomington, Illinois. This study assessed the effects of victim-offender mediation on the offender’s’ crime rates. Seventy-six offender participants in the mediation program were included in the study. Data was obtained using public access data from the McLean County, Illinois government website. There was a significant effect in reduction of total crime as well as a significant reduction in major crimes (all crimes excluding minor traffic violations such as speeding) after mediation. These results suggest that the mediation program had a positive influence on reducing criminal acts for offenders who participated … [full research paper].

Research on the History of Policy Development for Countering Domestic Violence, 2006


NOTE: Two of the founders of Collaborative Solutions Institute (and presently active with the Institute), Cheryl Gaines and Carol Reitan, have been active in the domestic violence area from the 1970’s to today.

In this paper, by Anna Mae Bales, Intern, Illinois State University, Spring 2006, the reader will find the exploration of a community’s evolution on the issue of domestic violence. The Bloomington/Normal area in central Illinois had taken a stance that domestic violence was a family matter, and nobody outside of the family should be involved. However, through the efforts of eight women, things began to change. They opened the eyes to many and the doors for others that felt the same way. People began to step up and prove to the community that domestic violence was a problem that everyone should be involved in. Programs were created for victims and later on abusers, police began to change their stance, and the States’ Attorney and court system improved prosecution. Through all this dedication emerged talented people who will not sit on the sidelines while women, children, and even men are being abused. During the course of three months data was collected by interviewing people prominent in changing domestic violence from private to public policy. Their interviews, found in appendix one through twelve, are the backbone of this research paper covering the 1970’s through 2002 … [Full research paper]

Research on Women in Avert DV Group Treatment Program, 2006

Conclusions from research project by Genevive Nehrt, Illinois Wesleyan University Intern with Collaborative Solutions Institute, Summer 2006

There are a number of obstacles that face women who attend AVERT that may prevent them from coming to group sessions and thus finishing the program. Currently less than half of the women who begin group therapy classes at AVERT will complete the program (44%). A major hurtle that may impact a client’s ability to finish AVERT is the presence of children: less than half of the women with children were able to complete the program (45%).

Clients that attend the AVERT program are a diverse population, education ranges from the completion of middle school to BA degrees. It’s interesting to note that there was a significant difference in the number of clients who completed and their education level. Women who did not complete high school were more likely to complete the program (66%) than those who only completed high school (40%) and those who went on to further education (33%).

The employment of these clients also ranges from unemployed, to full time employment. The employment level of the clients impacted their ability to complete the program: those who had full time employment or part time employment were more likely to complete than were those who were unemployed (23% with full-time employment completed the program and 43% with part-time employment completed the program while only 70 % of those unemployed completed the program. Two more hurdles that may obstruct clients from completion are substance abuse problems and other mental health issues. Of those clients who reported previous substance abuse issues a little over half did complete (53%) while those who were diagnosed with other mental health issues less than half were able to complete the program (44%). The major difference between the clients who complete and those who do not is employment and education. Those who have full-time employment but only a high school education are more likely to complete. While those who are unemployed with at least a high school education are less likely to complete the program.

Overall the population of women that AVERT services is varied, but the many obstacles that face this group of women make completing the program more difficult, especially for those with a low income and other mental health issues to overcome …  [total research project]