Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
Age group: Adolescence (12-17)
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: Families; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: In progress
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention
The Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program is a multistep intervention that targets youth who are at risk of, or already demonstrating, delinquency, violence, substance use, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or disruptive behaviour disorder. FFT services may be coupled with supportive system services such as remedial education, job training and placement, and school placement.
The program is centered on family therapy; parent training; and substance prevention/treatment.
The main goals of the FFT program are to:
- Enhance the services provided to youth (increase efficiency, decrease costs) by targeting known risk and protective factors;
- Engage and motivate the families of the youth who participate in the program; and
- Change the maladaptive behaviours of youth (delinquent acts, violence, substance use) and their families as well as reducing the personal, societal, and economic devastation that the disruptive behaviour of youth may cause.
The appropriate clientele for the FFT program is youth between the ages of 11 and 18 who are at risk for, or are engaging in, delinquent acts, violence, substance use, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or disruptive behaviour disorder. Many youth targeted by the program are at risk for institutionalization if their behaviour does not change.
Participants are referred to the program through the families themselves, as well as schools, community service providers, the courts, and other social service agencies. A specific referral process for program participation will need to be put in place in order to target at-risk youth.
The FFT program includes 8 to 30 hours of direct services for youth and their families, depending on individual needs. Generally, sessions are spread over a 3-month period of time. The program has several key steps which are designed to build on one another to enhance protective factors to reduce risk. These phases consist of:
- Behaviour Change
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: A clinical director often assists the program with issues that are governed by organizational policies and procedures. An organization must become a FFT-certified site in order to implement the FFT program.
- Partnerships: Organizations should collaborate with potential referral sources.
- Training and technical assistance: Therapists implementing FFT must be trained in all aspects of the program. There are 3 phases of training that occur over a 3 year period. FFT also has extensive procedures for monitoring aspects of sites during implementation, including booster trainings.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: The FFT program has developed and implemented a sophisticated web-based application designed to monitor highly structured FFT therapist progress notes, as well as supervisor and client ratings of therapist competence. To support implementation, FFT has well-developed treatment/training and supervision manuals.
The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Model
- Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Effective (more than one study)
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
- Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.
Gathering Canadian Knowledge
Canadian Implementation Sites
Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the FFT program in Calgary, Alberta from 2014-2019. The program is being offered by Calgary Family Services in Calgary, Alberta.
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
The FFT program offered by Calgary Family Services in Calgary, Alberta has been selected for a process and outcome evaluation by Public Safety Canada. This evaluation is currently in progress; results are not yet available at this time.
The cost is not available in Canadian dollars. Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development (2015) has provided a cost example with therapist caseloads of 12 and supervisors seeing 5 youth/families with an average service length of 12 weeks. In this example, the program could serve approximately 600 youth/families and the average youth/family cost would be $2,800 (USD).
Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development (2015). Functional Family Therapy (FFT) - Program Information. Available from: http://www.blueprintsprograms.com/
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Record Entry Date - 2018-02-22
- Date modified: