Youth Services : Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

FFT is a successful, family-based prevention and intervention program that treats at-risk youth and youth already involved in the juvenile justice system. Unique to FFT is its systematic, individualized, family-focused approach to juvenile crime, violence, drug abuse and other related problems.

FFT provides therapists with specific goals for each family interaction. Although systematic, each phase is guided by core principles that help the therapist adjust and adapt the goals of the phase to the unique characteristics of the family.

In this way, FFT ensures treatment fidelity while remaining respectful of individual families and cultures and unique community needs. FFT is a nationally recognized Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development and one of four model intervention programs named by the U.S. Surgeon General as an appropriate treatment for seriously delinquent youth.

Although commonly used as an intervention program, FFT is also an effective prevention program for at-risk adolescents and their families. Whether implemented as an intervention or a prevention program, FFT may include diversion, probation, alternatives to incarceration, and or re-entry programs for youth returning to the community following release from a high-security, severely restrictive institutional setting. FFT is also used to serve adolescents within the child welfare system and school settings.

What is FFT?

  • Empirically grounded, well-documented and highly successful family intervention program for dysfunctional youth.
  • Applied to a wide range of at-risk youth aged 11-18 and their families, including your with problems such as conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse.
  • Intervention ranges from, on average, 8 to 12 one-hour sessiones up to 30 sessions of direct service for more difficult situations.
  • Conducted both in clinic settings as an outpatient service and as a home-based model.
  • A treatment technique that is appealing because of its clear identification of specific phases, which organize intervention in a coherent manner, thereby allowing clinicians to maintain focus in the context of considerable family and individual disruption.
  • Each phase includes specific goals, assessment foci, specific techniques of intervention, and therapist skills necessary for success.

FFT Endorsements

  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • American Youth Policy Forum
  • U.S. Department of Justice

FFT Intervention Phases

  • Engagement, designed to emphasize factors that protect youth and families from early program dropout.
  • Motivation, designed to change maladaptive emotional reactions and beliefs, and increase alliance, trust, hope, and motivation for lasting change.
  • Assessment, designed to clarify individual, family system, and larger system relationships, especially the interpersonal functions of behavior and how they related to change techniques.
  • Behavior change, which consists of communication training, specific tasks and technical aids, basic parenting skills, contracting and response-cost techniques.
  • Generalization, during which family case management is guided by individualized family functional needs, their interface with environmental constraints and resources, and the alliance with the FFT therapist/family case manager.

FFT at Community Solutions Inc.

  • Community Solutions Inc. (CSI) Home-Based Youth Services division is widely acknowledged for its strict adherence to model fidelity and successful outcomes.
  • CSI developed its own multi-phase screening, hiring and training protocols for home-based therapists, which have resulted in a very high therapist retention rate and excellent satisfaction ratings among therapists.