Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

2  — Supported by Research Evidence
2  — Supported by Research Evidence
2  — Supported by Research Evidence
2  — Supported by Research Evidence
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About This Program

Target Population: 11-18 year olds with very serious problems such as conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse

For children/adolescents ages: 11 – 18

Brief Description

FFT is a family intervention program for dysfunctional youth. FFT has been applied to a wide range of problem youth and their families in various multi-ethnic, multicultural contexts. Target populations range from at-risk pre-adolescents to youth with very serious problems such as conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse. While FFT targets youth aged 11-18, younger siblings of referred adolescents often become part of the intervention process. Intervention ranges from, on average, 8 to 12 one-hour sessions for mild cases and up to 30 sessions of direct service for more difficult situations. In most programs, sessions are spread over a three-month period. FFT has been conducted both in clinic settings as an outpatient therapy and as a home-based model.

The FFT clinical model offers clear identification of specific phases which organizes the 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.

Program Goals:

The goals of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) are:

  • Engage and motivate youth and their families by decreasing the intense negativity (blaming, hopelessness) so often characteristic of these families. Rather than ignoring or being paralyzed by the intense negative experiences these families often bring (e.g., cultural isolation and racism, loss and deprivation, abandonment, abuse, depression), FFT acknowledges and incorporates these powerful emotional forces into successful engagement and motivation through respect, sensitivity, and positive reattribution techniques.
  • Reduce and eliminate the problem behaviors (e.g., conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse) and accompanying family relational patterns through individualized behavior change interventions. During this phase, FFT integrates a strong cognitive/attributional component into systematic skill- training in family communication, parenting, problem solving, and conflict management skills.
  • Generalize changes across problem situations by increasing the family’s capacity to utilize multisystemic community resources adequately, and to engage in relapse prevention.

Contact Information

Holly DeMaranville, LLC
Title: FFT Communications Director
Agency/Affiliation: Functional Family Therapy, Inc.
Phone: (206) 369-5894
Fax: (206) 453-3631

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2017

Last CEBC Contact Date: June 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2015

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2010