Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

FFT is a short-term, strengths-based, intervention program with an average of 12 to 14 sessions over three to five months. FFT works primarily with 11- to 18-year-old at-risk youth and their families who have been referred for behavioral or emotional problems by the juvenile justice, mental health, school or child welfare systems. Targeted youths generally are at risk for delinquency, violence, substance use, or other behavioral problems such as Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Services are conducted in both clinic and home settings, and can also be provided by schools, child welfare facilities, probation and parole offices/aftercare systems and mental health facilities.

FFT consists of five major components:

Engagement: The goals of this phase involve enhancing family members' perceptions of therapist responsiveness and credibility.

Motivation: The goals of this phase include creating a positive motivational context by decreasing family hostility, conflict and blame, increasing hope and building balanced alliances with family members

Relational assessment: The goal of this phase is to identify the patterns of interaction within the family to understand the relational "functions" or interpersonal payoffs for individual family members' behaviors.

Behavior change: The goal of this phase is to reduce or eliminate referral problems by improving family functioning and individual skill development.

Generalization: The primary goals in this phase are to extend the improvements made during Behavior Change into multiple areas and to plan for future challenges.

Staffing Requirements:

Qualifications can vary for therapists, but to become an onsite Program Supervisor a minimum of Master’s level education is required. FFT can be delivered by a wide range of professionals, including licensed therapists, trained probation officers, and other specialists with a mental health degree and background (e.g., MSW, Ph.D., M.D., R.N., MFT, and LCP). Therapists should have a master’s degree in psychology, social work or a related field. Supervisors must be licensed therapists.

Staffing Training:

Clinical Training (Phase 1): 12-18 month training and consultation for the site’s local clinicians so they can demonstrate strong adherence and competence in delivering FFT.

Supervision Training (Phase 2): Trainings for supervisors and on-site trainings delivered over 12 months to increase self-sufficiency in FFT and develop competent onsite FFT supervision. A database is also set up to monitor and ensure program fidelity.

Maintenance (Phase 3): Annual review of fidelity, service delivery trends, and client outcomes captured in database. Annual 1 day on-site trainings are also available.