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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Functional Family Therapy model helps avoid out-of-home placements

Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth has expanded its vast array of programs and services in the community to include the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) model, an evidence-based, highly effective therapeutic system of care designed to keep families together and avoid out-of-home placements. 

Jessica McGauley, Berkshire’s FFT Program Coordinator says the program includes interventions and preventive services aimed at working with the entire family of at-risk youth rather than just the youth.  The program focuses on building skills that address issues such as defiance of rules at home and school, conflicts between parent and child, drug and alcohol use, and verbal and physical aggression.  “The goal,” says McGauley, “is to improve family communication, determine and adopt positive solutions to a family’s problems, and prevent the need for more extensive services.”

Berkshire’s FFT team also includes Katrina Lesniak and Erica Rabideau, both masters level therapists.  FFT goes beyond focusing on the behaviors of a particular youth, but rather empowers parents and other family members to play a significant role in helping the youth remain in his or her home and community.  Traditional programs often focus on helping youth function in identified settings.  FFT works with the entire family to better solve problems and prevent further need for other services.

FFT is an evidence-based program, one of only 11 in the nation identified as model programs by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  According to a 2010-2011 survey, 91 percent of families completing the program reported a decrease in family conflict.  With the assistance of FFT, individuals are often able to avoid placement and remain in their own homes and communities.

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