Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

FFT is an evidence-based intervention program involving the whole family, designed for youth with emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems. The FFT intervention averages 8 - 12 family sessions over 3 to 4 months. All FFT services are provided in the family’s home and community. Each phase of FFT includes assessment, development of family goals, specific intervention techniques, and therapist skills necessary for success.

Population Served

Program serves youth ages 11-17 who have been referred by the juvenile justice, mental health, or child welfare systems.

Research and Outcomes

The FFT program is supported by 30 years of clinical research, which supports its foundation as an evidence based child welfare programs for youth with substance abuse problems or antisocial behavior problems. FFT has been applied to a wide range of youth and their families in various multi-ethnic, multicultural contexts and with pre-adolescents and adolescents diagnosed with conduct disorders, violent acting out and substance abuse.

In December of 2000, Office of Juvenile Justice of Delinquency Prevention issued a Juvenile Justice Bulletin on FFT by the founders of FFT. The OJJDP Bulletin cited recidivism rates for the FFT treated population at just over 20% while the residential treatment cases had a recidivism rate of approximately 90%. These figures are not inconsistent with the New York State experience where estimates of recidivism after placement in a juvenile justice facility approach or exceed 90% while some intensive aftercare models have succeeded in reducing recidivism rates to approximately 20%. Outcome studies suggest that FFT can reduce recidivism between 25% and 60% (Sexton & Alexander, 2000).

What Others Are Saying

This therapist did an excellent job engaging a reluctant client! They facilitated communication between mom and youth that wasn’t formerly possible. Mom reports therapist was "a godsend." Mom reports that, "The therapist really pulled things together for us." ~ Probation staff

Father reports, "Therapist was quite helpful in getting our daughter and her mother to communicate." Youth and mom believe FFT was very helpful. ~ Probation staff

All members of the family loved their therapist and felt FFT was very helpful. Best of all, the youth is going to school again! ~ Probation staff

"Absolutely excellent. Our therapist was totally professional, but made you feel comfortable enough to talk about things. She was a huge part of our son’s and our family’s success and he’s getting back on track. She greatly helped with our family’s communication." ~ Family Member

"Our therapist was a really good listener. Appreciate her tweaking the message she heard if it wasn’t quite right. Dispute Resolution Exercise – made me think about my assumptions and erroneous thinking. Still helps me reflect and feel less angry." ~Family Member