ients. Iteratively integrating the perspectives of team members allowed us to adapt the intervention more appropriately
for our target population.
Lesson #4: Think About the Long Term Now
From the first day of forming a multidisciplinary team, it
is vital to consider how the team will function in the long
term. It is particularly important that a team has representation from all stakeholders, including, for example, academic researchers, court directors, court-based psychologists, probation officers, and detention staff. Ideally, each
team member will be willing to commit to the project long
term, as unnecessary team member turnover may limit the
project’s success. It is also important that each team member shares the values, vision, and major objectives of the
team. For example, our team members were all deeply
committed to reducing adolescents’ mental health problems
and aggressive behavior and to working as a team to improve interventions for adolescents. We recommend devoting initial meetings to developing mission, vision, and values statements that all members can agree upon as well as
outlining goals, SMART Objectives (see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015), and team activities.
Establishing formal partnership principles may help the
team continuously act in line with their values (see Newman
et al., 2011, for examples of partnership principles).
The central goal of this project was to construct a developmentally appropriate, acceptable, and effective intervention that draws on evidence-based principles to meet the
needs of a community facing a real-world problem. We
integrated the perspectives and expertise of academic psychologists specializing in clinical science, court processes,
and family law, clinical psychology graduate students,
court-based psychologists, court directors, judges, detention
staff, and probation officers. We believe that this work
could not have been accomplished without a multidisciplinary team. We adopted a collaborative, values-driven,
and committed approach to solving this problem for our
community and the wider population of adolescents who
present to the juvenile justice system with a complex combination of aggression and mental health needs.
A major component of our adapted intervention was to
guide the adolescents through a process of identifying their
personal values and orienting their planned behaviors to
align with their values. The skills we taught our group
participants were also relevant to our team process. We
found that we had to identify our values (respect, commu-
nication, flexibility, and sustainability) and continually con-
duct committed actions to work toward these values (re-
sponding to feedback, iterative manual development,
scheduling intervention sessions within the constraints of
the setting). We also recognized that the behavioral skills
we taught our group participants, such as conflict resolution
and active listening, were integral to our success in pursuing
our team mission. We experienced discomfort and even
some frustration when we received negative feedback about
our intervention or dealt with logistical problems, but we
were able to accept uncomfortable emotions in service of
working toward our values as a team. Although we set goals
along the way, our values of team partnership development
and sustained implementation of effective community pro-
grams to address populations in need will continue to guide
our work. We hope that the lessons we learned may help
other researchers to address complex, real-world problems
through the use of a multidisciplinary team approach as
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