What is CSS®?

CSS® stands for the Cultivating SEEDS System Framework. In turn, SEEDS is an acronym for Social Emotional Education in Diverse Settings.

CSS® is an organizing framework that gives context, order and meaning to information obtained about a client’s background. The framework uses social-emotional competencies and the social determinants of a person’s life course to explain human behavior. It also identifies the culturally responsive approach – the RUMERTIME® Process – to influence and transform lives and communities.

The Goals of the CSS® Framework

Goal #1: To increase access to the de-stigmatized and de-mystified problem-solving strategy – the RUMERTIME® Process – so that individuals in diverse settings locally and globally can become conscious problem solvers and empowered life coaches as they acquire healthy social-emotional MARKERS™

Goal #2: To educate, equip and empower individuals to effectively utilize social-emotional competencies as they renew their minds, transform their lives and create safer communities.


Features of the CSS®  Framework

CSS® is a program that utilizes:

  • research-based theories and practices.
  • evidence-informed practices.
  • culturally responsive and integrated approaches.
  • creative and innovative constructs.
  • interactive, engaging and inclusive processes.
      1. Research based: The CSS® Framework is built on multiple evidence-based human growth and development theories as well as evidence-based therapeutic theories and techniques.
      2. Evidence informed: The author incorporated research evidence, stakeholder needs, cultural competencies, values, preferences, practitioner wisdom and theory into the development of the CSS® framework.
      3. Innovative: The CSS® Framework uses agricultural metaphors to educate, de-mystify, de-stigmatize and re-conceptualize mental health concepts as they relate to the inevitable life challenges associated with self, others and situations both locally and globally.
      4. Relatable: Agriculture is a universal and unbiased construct, and elements of the natural plant world exist everywhere across the globe.
      5. Easy to teach: Facilitators teaching the CSS® Framework are not required to have a formal college education. Many of the activities included in the framework offer the facilitator the opportunity to use materials indigenous to their culture and setting. However, facilitators need to complete an official CSS® Framework training course.
      6. Easy to learn: Concepts in the CSS® Framework are developmentally appropriate and strongly linked to the plant world. This makes the concepts both practical and easy to learn, not only for the intended audience but also for any unintended audiences.
      7. Adaptable: The CSS® Framework is accessible, generalizable and flexible. It was designed to be easily modified to fit diverse settings, needs, ethnocultural groups, time, ages and resource levels.
      8. Scalable: Facilitators and learners engaging with the CSS® Framework can have diverse levels of educational attainment as well as a wide range of life experiences.
      9. Culturally responsive: Ecological systems theory and narrative therapy are two of the multiple theories on which the CSS® Framework is built. This foundation ensures that rudimentary components, including voice, beliefs, culture, and experiences of individuals, are reflected in the learning and teaching of the CSS® Framework.
      10. Engaging and active: The activities included in the learning modules actively engage multiple intelligences. Furthermore, the learning modules are delivered in multiple modalities, such as individual, small group, large group, classroom, workshop, advisory and other modalities using active learning principles.
      11. Comprehensive: “As air is to life so are social-emotional skills to relationships.” Social-emotional competencies are like the air we breathe.
      12. Integrated: The CSS® Framework is thoughtfully designed to be easily integrated into any setting where relationships are fundamental to success in family life, school life, work life and community life.

The Components of the CSS® Framework

The CSS® Framework has six components and uses an agricultural metaphor to re-conceptualize the promotion, practice and intervention of mental health.

      1. Multi-theories
      2. Social-emotional competencies
      3. Social determinants
      4. Triadic principles of wellness (body/mind/spirit)
      5. Levels of engagement
      6. RUMERTIME® Process (the prevention and intervention strategy)

Each component works synergistically to create what we propose as a re-conceptualized approach to global mental health promotion, practice and intervention.


The CSS® Framework is built on six well-established principles:

  1. CR-Psychosocial Development
  2. CR-Cognitive Behavior Theory
  3. CR-Problem-Solving Theory
  4. CR-Narrative Counseling
  5. Ecological Systems Theory
  6. Strengths-Based Approach
  7. Multicultural Counseling Theory
  8. Social Justice Counseling
  9. Triadic Body/Mind/Spirit
  10. Social Learning Theory

The first four of these theories share some conceptual similarities that transcend theoretical bounds – they explain and conceptualize human behavior as occurring within and across social contexts.

The last two theories are cognitive behavior therapy and problem-solving therapy. These two approaches are widely used across settings and many of the techniques are scalable thus creating accessibility. They both focus on changing unhelpful patterns in cognition (thoughts and attitudes), behaviors and emotions so that the individual can develop personal coping strategies to solve current problems.

2. Social Emotional Competencies

Social-emotional competence is a person’s ability to Recognize, Understand, Manage, Express and Reflect upon the social and emotional aspects of their life in ways that enable them to successfully relate to themselves and others. Being socially emotionally competent helps people to effectively navigate through life and its challenges found while living, learning, working and loving.

There are five core social-emotional competencies that the CSS® Framework utilizes: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management and Responsible Decision-Making Skills.

3. Social Determinants

The social determinants of mental health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age. These include the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life such as economic policies, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.

Positive social determinants are necessary for developing the social-emotional competencies. Many common mental health disorders have risk factors that are strongly associated with various social inequalities.

4. Triadic Wellness Principles (body/mind/spirit)

Wellness is a choice of lifestyle marked by a balance of mind, body, and spirit. The CSS® framework emphasizes balance within ourselves and in our relationships. Physical health(body), Mental health (Mind) and Spiritual health (Spirit) are all integral to living a balanced and healthy life. For example, we believe that your thoughts are at the foundation of how we interact with others, what we believe about others and situations and our feelings about self, others and situations.

5. Levels of Engagement

The level of engagement refers to the “who” of the CSS® framework – the client. The individual, the family, the school, diverse work settings or the community – all of these can be the client. The person delivering the intervention engages with the client and operationalizes the CSS® goals, all at the appropriate level.

6. RUMERTIME® Process

The RUMERTIME® Process is a five-step social-emotional problem-solving process that helps individuals move from a position of intra- and interpersonal imbalance to balance and from unconscious living to conscious living.

Through the RUMERTIME® Process, individuals develop the skills to Recognize, Understand, Manage, Express and Reflect on the social and emotional aspects of their lives so that they can successfully relate to self, others and situations as they grow and develop.

RUMERTIME® is an acronym and individuals RUMERize when a triggering event occurs in their life and activates negative thinking, behaving and feeling patterns.

Individuals interrupt this pattern of negativity as they:

  • Recognize, Understand, Manage, Express, and Reflecton their
  • Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets, and Emotion as they relate to the event.

Agricultural Metaphor

The CSS® Framework is based on an agricultural metaphor – SEEDS, Social Emotional Education in Diverse Settings. SEEDS corresponds to the five core social emotional competencies. For example, the soil and essential growth elements in the plant world are the metaphorical equivalent of the social determinants of human development.

Words matter. Agriculture does not have any inherent biases, and its language is accessible to a wide range of people without regard to gender, race, age and physical ability.

Here’s an excerpt of the table of the working definitions of the CSS™ Framework and the agricultural definitions from which they were adapted.

Element CSS® Framework Definition Agricultural Definition
Soil The environments in which an individual is born, grows, lives, works, learns, and plays. They are made up of influences on every aspect of a person’s life. The environments in which the plant grows. They are made up of nutrients that feed the plant and support life.
Essential Growth Elements Positive influences such as self, peers, government, home, school, work, community, media, and culture are needed to foster and promote growth. Optimal balance of these (influences or) elements results in healthy growth and development. Unfavorable balance of these elements leads to inadequate growth and production. Conditions needed to foster and promote growth, such as soil minerals, water, air, temperature, and sunshine. Optimal balance of these elements results in healthy growth and development. Unfavorable balance of these elements leads to inadequate growth and production.

Learn more about training for the RUMERTIME™ Process