What is Functional Family Therapy (FFT)?

Functional Family Therapy is Strength – Based Cognitive Behavioural Approach to support families in coping with behavioural issues, mental health, conduct disorder, oppositional defiance, substance abuse, school refusal, and nonattendance.

Family Therapy can begin by helping the family to assess how the family behaviours can be enhanced in areas such as communication, negotiation, setting clear rules, training about privileges and responsibilities, and relationships. The therapist can help to increase family strengths, communication, supportiveness, and decrease negativity and scapegoating. Work on cognitive, behavioural, and emotional domains are targeted for change based on the individual issues for each family. Parenting skills, coping skills, and sources or marital tension are targeted. Families are treated to develop the strengths of the individuals, the strengths within the family relationships, and the multiple systems linked to the environment. The family is effected by their community and relationships are seen from a strength and risk perspective. Family therapy is designed to increase resiliency to bounce back from stressors.

What are the Phases of Functional Family Therapy?

The specific phases of FFT include engagement, motivation, rational assessment, behavioural change, and generalization to other environments to decrease relapse. In the engagement phase the therapist focuses on establishing a strength-based therapeutic relationship to enhance trust and treatment success. During the motivational phase the therapist works to collaboratively explore the relationships in the home to decrease negativity, hopelessness, and low self-esteem for lasting change. The relational assessment involves creating a place for behavioural changes and capabilities such as beliefs, values, interactional patterns, and sources of resistance are explored. Behavioural change includes reduction of problem behaviours with training in communication, parenting, problem-solving, and conflict management. Generalization of skills to the community is important for increasing satisfaction and treatment results.