Decision Making in Children Decision Making in Children
Decision Making in Children


Dr. Barry's Background

Founded by Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry Ph.D. in 1995, the BrainWise Program, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has been involved in the research and development of curricula that teach children and youth essential emotional, social, and cognitive skills through an innovative structured approach called the "10 Wise Ways."

Decision Making in Children

Children need these critical thinking skills to make better choices and responsible decisions. When they have these skills they have fewer problems. They understand other people's points of view and they stop and think before they act. Without them, children have no impulse control and lack the fundamental social skills to function easily with their peers. Emotions are powerful and children who are unaware of this power can fail to see the consequences of their actions. They are unable to communicate their feelings appropriately or handle themselves in difficult situations. When this occurs, they can make decisions that can ruin their lives.

These are the children and youth for whom the BrainWise Program was developed and with more than 25 years of experience working with at-risk youth and with a background in domestic violence prevention, public health and education, Dr. Barry was well prepared to create such a program.

Dr. Barry received her Ph.D. in sociology and has served as adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado, the University of Denver, and Regis University. Her professional background includes work as a public health, school, migrant and adolescent psychiatric nurse. As a home visitation and school nurse, Dr. Barry counseled teen mothers, battered women, victims of physical and sexual abuse, youth with sexually transmitted diseases, truants, drop-outs, substance abusers, suicidal youth, and the families of suicide victims. Her work in these areas lead her to an understanding of why the BrainWise approach in breaking a cycle of inappropriate behavior is essential.



With an in-depth research background of her own, she based the program on the proven theory that cognitive behavior models are essential in helping individuals restructure distorted thinking processes. Dr. Barry's basic philosophy in BrainWise is a departure from accepted strategies of intervention and "quick fix" programs that focus on rote learning of packaged responses that do not teach children to "think for themselves." These strategies, which inappropriately assume that at-risk youth possess the necessary foundation of thinking skills, do not provide a comprehensive package of learning that meets the students' needs.

The Beginning of BrainWise

Positive Life Choices®

In 1995, Dr. Barry and several instructors piloted the BrainWise for Grades 6-12 to at-risk youth in Denver middle and high schools. She served as the lead teacher, experiencing first-hand the challenges facing teachers, counselors and students. Daily classroom contact with inner-city teens and feedback from teachers and other students helped her make BrainWise a teacher-friendly and student-receptive program, centered around a scripted curriculum designed to make BrainWise easy to teach, even by peer educators and community volunteers.

The BrainWise materials were designed to be affordable and reproducible, allowing instructors to purchase materials with their own money if school funds are unavailable. Learning- based activities were created for easy integration into literature, history, social studies, and science courses, as well as experiences and topics inside and outside the classroom.

In response to requests from mentors, counselors, and social workers who work individually with youth, Dr. Barry developed BrainWise One-on-One. After program graduates lamented, "I should have learned this in grade school," Dr. Barry, again working with teachers and in the classroom, developed BrainWise for Grades K-5. A companion piece for parents and a curriculum for severely disabled students have also been developed.

Decision Making in Children


Decision Making in Children

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