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Empowering families towards a safer and happier future

Information for Families about FFT


Who do Functional Family Therapy work with?

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) work with at-risk young people aged 10 to 18 years of age who present a range of issues and challenges including conduct disorders and alcohol or substance abuse. Often these young people and their families have limited access to resources, histories of failure to engage with services and/or repeated contact with multiple services.  

Will you just have contact with the young person?

FFT works with the whole family, aiming to reduce defensive communication patterns, increase supportive interactions and promote supervision and effective discipline by parents.

What time commitment does this involve?

FFT typically involves 8-12 one-hour sessions (although this may rise to 26-30 for more serious cases) over a 3-4 month period. Services are delivered in both clinic and home settings and can also be provided in a variety of other settings too depending upon what works for the family. 


How does FFT work?


FFT has 3 main FFT Phases:

1) Engagement and Motivation –We focus on engagement with the whole family.  We start by learning about you and the core issues within your family. We aim to build your confidence in your ability to make changes and we gain a better understanding of the family relationships.

2) Behavioural Change–We then help you to improve relationships within your family and create positive change by building on your family's strengths. The therapist works on developing new skills and strategies for your family, which enable you to communicate differently with each other and address the challenges that brought you to therapy.

3) Generalisation – We help you to identify a support network to help you maintain the skills you have learnt. Support is also given to help you think about applying your new skills in different situations inside and outside of the home so that you can be confident about maintaining the progress you have made.


Am I going to be blamed for what is going wrong in our family? 

FFT is a strengths based model, with a focus on assessment of those risk and protective factors in the family at its core.
Are things going to improve?
Research outcomes have included significant and long term reductions in youth reoffending and violent behaviour, significant effectiveness in reducing high-risk behaviours in siblings, low drop-out and high completion rates and positive impacts on family conflict, family communication, parenting, and youth problem behaviour.


Are you the same as Social Care?

No. FFT will be working closely with Social Care in order to deliver the service and receives referrals from social care. Your FFT Therapist (like all professionals working with families and children) must report all potential risks of significant harm to children. It’s important to note that even the FFT Therapists that have been trained as a social worker in the past will not be working as a social worker with your family and that the service we provide is not the same as that of a social worker. This means that if the need for a social worker arises then that social worker will need to be provided by Social Care.


Can I re-arrange an appointment?  

Absolutely.  We realise that sometimes life happens in a way that interrupts even the best of plans.  We will always be as flexible as possible for you.  Rearranging is always better than cancelling.


Can we go on holiday during the treatment?

Yes, you can. Many families go on holiday during treatment, particularly in the summer months.  We advise that this happens once your child’s behaviour settles. This is so that your holiday is more enjoyable. If you have a holiday scheduled in the first few weeks of treatment please tell your FFT Therapist as soon as possible, as this may mean that it could be better to begin treatment upon your return.  


My FFT Therapist is away, who can I call for help?

You should be notified of the name and contact details of a therapist covering for your therapist while they’re away

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Frequently asked questions about MST

Frequently asked questions about FFT