Needs·ABC: Needs Acquisition and Behavior Change
A model for difficult clients

Helping professionals have used various psychotherapeutic models to interpret clients' apparent needs and motivate them toward behavior change. The Needs Acquisition and Behavior Change model (Needs·ABC), developed by Tom Caplan, MSW, uses an integrated therapeutic approach that combines strategies also described in cognitive-behavioral, motivational, narrative and emotion-focused work.

These workshops demonstrate the benefits of the Needs·ABC integrated approach and suggests options for intervention in therapeutic settings that can help clients to feel emotionally safe, to identify and clarify their therapeutic objectives in terms of recognizing unmet needs in relationships and to devise strategies to meet these needs, participate more authentically and "see the bigger picture" of problem-solving strategies.

Typical Needs • ABC Workshop Outline:

  • Introduction
    • Presenter's Clinical experience
    • Explanation of the evolution and development of the (Needs•ABC) Model

  • The Needs ABC Model Basics
    • Assumptions, Focus & Strategy
    • The Needs ABC Model Strengths & Benefits
    • Things to Consider in Treatment

  • Needs ABC Model Tx Structure
    • Client Stages
    • Working Phases

  • The Needs ABC Model
    • Integrative Aspects
    • Theme-Based Needs & Emotion
    • Importance of Developmental History
    • Tx Planning
    • “Measuring Progress”

  • Synopsis

Fee Scale

The fee breakdown is as follows:

$800 CDN for each ½ day
or $1500 CDN for each full day. (For example, if 15 people were to take a full day workshop it would cost them each $100.00.)

NOTE: This does not include handouts and other printed materials or travel expenses. Multiple-day and other extended trainings are negotiated on a case by case basis.

Related Material

Note that The Needs ABC Therapeutic Model for Couples and Families: A Guide for Practitioners & Needs-ABC: Needs Acquisition and Behavior Change Model for Group Work and Other Psychotherapies by Tom Caplan, MSW are now available.

For more information, click here.

Workshops and Trainings given previously


  • Batshaw Youth and Family Centres
  • Grand Rounds KSCS.
  • Grand Rounds Saint Mary’s Hospital Montreal.
  • Co-Constructing Productive Conversations – Alabama AAMFT – Invited Speaker – One Day Workshop
  • Ami Quebec - Anger Management - Conflict Resolution - Violence Prevention


  • CLSC Cote des Neiges – Sabrina Saddick – The Caplan Therapy Centre and the Needs ABC Model
  • Seminar on Child Protection - Marion Van Horne - SWRK 493
  • Violence Against Women 2 – Julia Karane - SWRK 628
  • Violence Against Women 1 – Julia Karane - SWRK 628
  • Encouraging Positive Outcomes - the Needs ABC Needs Acquisition and Behaviour Change Model – Canadian Domestic Violence Conference
  • Encouraging Positive Outcomes: An Integrative Approach to Working with Difficult Couples - International Family Therapy Association


  • SPSICR-MUHC – Montreal Neurological Institute. I Was Born to be Treated With Dignity
  • McGill University Nurse Practitioners – Assessment of Domestic Violence in a Medical Setting: Intervention Strategies
  • McGill Legal Clinic – How to Deal with Difficult clients
  • National Post (September 1). Age-old story: Are May-December romances hardier than we think? Tristin Hopper.
  • Carol Roach - - The many sides of domestic violence: A mental health issue
  • Carol Roach - - Tom Caplan of the McGill Violence Clinic
  • Carol Roach - - Interview with Tom Caplan, the director of the McGill Violence Clinic
  • McGill University Nurse Practitioners – Assessment of Domestic Violence in a Medical Setting: Intervention Strategies
  • The Needs ABC Model for Difficult to Work With Couples and Families - 2-day workshop - Bjørgvin Family Therapy Service - Bergen Norway
  • Julius Richardson and Catherine Booth Hospitals Montreal – Social Workers – The Needs ABC Model for Difficult Clients
  • Julius Richardson and Catherine Booth Hospitals Montreal – Front Line Workers – The Needs ABC Model for Difficult Clients


  • St. Columba House - Working with Difficult Clients: The Needs ABC Model.
  • Ami-Quebec - Why are you so angry? A management guide.
  • AASWG 2011.  Schippers, K., Caplan, T. “Show Me Heaven.” The importance of making connections is social work with groups. Long Beach, CA.
  • AASWG 2011. Same Ship, Different Cabins: The Needs ABC Integrative Group Work Model for Difficult Clients. Long Beach, CA.
    Guay, E. (UQAM, Québec, Canada), Caplan, T. (McGill University, Québec, Canada) Why Relational Needs are Important in Helping women Survivors of Domestic Violence. Cri-Viff International Conference 2011 - Violence Against Women.
  • SCC Social Projects GmbH - Hamburg Germany – Invited Speaker - The Importance of Relational Needs in the Therapeutic Setting.
  • Ami Quebec - Anger Management: Tools and Tactics - Videoconferencing Lecture with five high schools.
    IFTA 2011 Needs ABC: An Integrative Approach to Working With Difficult Couples.

before 2011

  • American Association of Marriage and Family therapy (AAMFT)
  • International Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups (IASSWG)
  • Cree Eeyou Istchee Family Violence Symposium
  • McGill University Nurse Practitioners
  • Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program – McGill University
  • Assault Response & Care Centre, Brockville, Ontario
  • International Symposium American Association of Social Work with Groups (ISAASWG)
  • Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF)
  • Ami- Quebec
  • Kahanawake Social Sevices
  • Auberge Shalom Pour Femmes
  • Auberge Transition
  • Tracom
  • Kanesatake Health Centre
  • Elizabeth House
  • Centre Jeunesse Montcalm
  • Ami-Quebec
  • Kahanasatake Social Services
  • West Island Crisis Centre
  • CP Rail
  • Quebec Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (QAMFT)
  • CLSC de la Montagne
  • Michigan Counseling Association (MCA)
  • The Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI)
  • United Kingdom Association for Psychotherapy Integration (UKAPI)
  • Canadian Counselling Association (CCACC)
  • McGill University School of Nursing
  • McGill Legal Clinic
  • Royal Victoria Hospital ObGyn Residents
  • North American Society of Adlerian Psychology (NASAP)

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