Functional Family Therapy

Evidence-based and Clinically Creative

Authored by: Thomas L. Sexton

Handbook of family therapy

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415518017
eBook ISBN: 9780203123584
Adobe ISBN:


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Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a systematic, evidenced-based, manual driven, family-based treatment program which is successful in treating a wide range of problems affecting youth (including drug use and abuse, conduct disorder, mental health concerns, truancy, and related family problems) and their families in a wide range of multi-ethnic, multicultural, and geographic contexts (Alexander & Sexton, 2002). Among family therapy models FFT is unique. Like many models, FFT is built on the principles of good clinical practice (create a therapeutic relationship, be client-centered, etc.) and contains all of what we would today call the “common factors” of all successful therapies. However, FFT uniquely takes a comprehensive family-based and relationally focused approach that makes it a model that is far more than a series of “intervention techniques.” Instead FFT is a systematic, theoretically based, clinical change process with specific clinical and theoretical principles and a systematic clinical protocol (“map”) that guides therapeutic case and session planning. As a treatment program, FFT has attended to culture, the changing nature of the family, and the almost magical relational process that unfolds “in the room” during the therapy process. Over its three decades of evolution and development, FFT has matured to include a comprehensive theoretical “lens,” a systemically relationally based change process (“map”), and an appreciation and reliance on the clinical creativity of the therapist who translates the model from an idea into practice in the relational interactions with the client and family.

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