Family Functional Therapy | Highland Springs

Juvenile crime rates continue to be a major area of concern. On average, juveniles were involved in approximately 25% of all serious violent victimizations committed over the last 25 years. Regardless of how such problems arise, there are complex behavioral issues that most often relate to a youth’s family or community. That is why family-based interventions are such an optimal choice — both in terms of intervention and prevention.

What Is Family Functional Therapy?

Family Functional Therapy (FFT) is a therapy model recognized around the globe. First founded in the 1970s, FFT is one of the most sought-after treatments for families in distress.

FFT is an intensive, short-term program designed to address challenging family circumstances, especially those involving children and teens. Mainly targeting youth between the ages of 7 and 18, this form of therapy also provides treatment to any younger siblings of referred adolescents. 

The goal of this therapy is to help individuals and their family members deal with complex challenges, including criminal involvements, mental health concerns, delinquency, violence, and substance use.

This evidence-based model focuses on high-risk youth and the family dynamics that contribute to problematic behavior. The ultimate goal of this therapy is to help family members communicate more effectively, strengthen relationships, and improve parenting skills. While FFT targets adolescents, it is imperative that the entire family gets involved.

No two families are the same. In some cases, conflict in the home is a major contributing factor, and in others, substance abuse plays a key role.

Learn More Today!

What Is Family Functional Therapy?

Family Functional Therapy (FFT) is a therapy model recognized around the globe. First founded in the 1970s, FFT is one of the most sought-after treatments for families in distress.

FFT is an intensive, short-term program designed to address challenging family circumstances, especially those involving children and teens. Mainly targeting youth between the ages of 7 and 18, this form of therapy also provides treatment to any younger siblings of referred adolescents. 

The goal of this therapy is to help individuals and their family members deal with complex challenges, including criminal involvements, mental health concerns, delinquency, violence, and substance use.

This evidence-based model focuses on high-risk youth and the family dynamics that contribute to problematic behavior. The ultimate goal of this therapy is to help family members communicate more effectively, strengthen relationships, and improve parenting skills. While FFT targets adolescents, it is imperative that the entire family gets involved.

No two families are the same. In some cases, conflict in the home is a major contributing factor, and in others, substance abuse plays a key role.

Learn More Today!

Is the Functional Family Therapy Model Right for Me?

Every family is unique, and while you may require specific strategies to overcome your family’s challenges, this model is generally recommended for those families who have a child that is:

  • Involved with the youth criminal justice system
  • Creating significant family conflict
  • Having ongoing problems at school
  • Displays mental health concerns

Data shows that when applied correctly, FFT can reduce the likelihood that someone will offend or re-offend, between 25% and 60% more effectively than other programs.

If you and your family would benefit from the following, FFT may be a viable option:

  • Improved communication skills
  • A greater sense of trust and respect
  • The ability to negotiate more effectively
  • To learn supportive parenting behaviors
  • Establishing clear rules and boundaries
  • Strengthen family relationships and bonds

What Can I Expect?

Depending on the situation, FFT is 8 to 12 sessions for mild instances, compared to 30+ sessions for more difficult, extreme cases. On average, sessions are completed over the course of three months.

To achieve optimal FFT results, this form of therapy includes several phases, each of which addresses specific risk factors and interventionist skills.

These phases focus on the following core goals:

  • Enhance services to at-risk youth by addressing known risk factors
  • Engage and motivate family members to participate in the program
  • Change the behavior of youth and their family members to help reduce the societal, personal, and economic consequences that such disruptive behavior may cause

These phases include:

The goal of this phase is to establish and maintain a positive client-therapist relationship. Everyone is treated with respect, allowing all parties to improve communication and reduce negativity. If a family is unwilling to participate, this therapy will not be successful. That is why your therapist will help you understand they are there to listen and help.

Phase one: Engagement

The goal of this phase is to establish and maintain a positive client-therapist relationship. Everyone is treated with respect, allowing all parties to improve communication and reduce negativity. If a family is unwilling to participate, this therapy will not be successful. That is why your therapist will help you understand they are there to listen and help.

Phase two: Motivation

While the first phase highlights the importance of positive perception regarding your therapist and the program itself, this phase concentrates on the relationship between adolescents and their family members. The ultimate goal here is to reduce drop-out, encourage feelings of hope, and increase motivation for change.

Phase three: Relational assessment

This phase involves relational assessment in order to identify the needs, functions, and hierarchy within a family. While an adolescent may have been referred to the program, in this phase, the attention shifts from being an individual problem to a relational perspective.

Phase four: Behavior changes

The goal of this phase is to reduce and eliminate problematic behaviors, as well as any underlying family patterns. To do so, individualized behavior change plans are implemented, focusing on conflict management, family communication, parenting skills, etc.

Phase five: Generalization

The ultimate goal of this last phase is to provide families with the resources they need to maintain positive change and reduce the risk of relapse. FFT connects families with community resources, focusing on school, the juvenile justice system, and community support.

How Highland Springs Can Help

At Highland Springs, we understand the complexity of FFT. Each individual contributes to one’s family dynamic. Whether loss, violence, divorce, or poor family communication play a role, our team helps families from all different backgrounds come together to address ongoing concerns.

Since as many as 50% to 80% of delinquent adolescents meet the criteria for a mental disorder, including substance-related and conduct disorders, Family Functional Therapy can help uncover some of the greatest contributing factors. Each individual receives their own personalized behavior change plan, and often, additional mental health support is offered.

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