Community-Based Services – Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

The FFT Model was named by the US Surgeon General as a model program for seriously delinquent youth because of its elaborate training, supervision and monitoring for treatment adherence. FFT is one of the original Blueprints’ evidence based models.

What is FFT?

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an integrated system for clinical assessment and successful family-based treatment of at-risk adolescents and their families.

The Savio FFT program strives to successfully maintain or reunify youth with their family through enhancing their relationship, communication and problem-solving skills.

FFT was developed in the early 1970’s in response to a need for a treatment approach that engaged troubled youth and families to achieve attainable change and become more adaptable and productive. Multicultural and multiethnic in its approach, the efficiency of the model is supported by decades of national and international research which has demonstrated superior results in a wide range of settings.

What does Savio FFT do?

  • Engages and motivates the youth and family to improve family functioning
  • Aids the youth in improving school or vocational performance
  • Focuses on helping families build supportive social networks
  • Empowers families to address the needs of the youth more effectively and make obtainable changes that will help the family function in more adaptive, acceptable and productive ways
  • Emphasizes long-term change that families can maintain after the program

How does Savio use a “home-based” model?

  • Therapist schedules are flexible to meet the needs of families
  • Services are provided in the home and as treatment progresses may involve the school, neighborhood and community
  • Typical caseloads of therapists are 8 to 10 families and include weekly contacts with family and other participants
  • Length of treatment averages 3-5 months

What makes FFT work?

The clinical model of FFT contains the basic elements that are necessary for effective family interventions. Therapists do much more than simply focus on stopping bad behavior, they:

  • Focus on motivating families to change in a positive manner, give them hope, uncover and develop their strengths, and enhance their self respect
  • Develop specific ways for the youth and family to improve through positive emotional reactions and behaviors
  • Help families and work with community resources to enhance and maintain their positive attempts to change
  • Therapists work in teams and provide coverage for each other’s caseloads
  • Each team has a supervisor and expert consultant who consult weekly on all cases

Who benefits?

Savio’s FFT program is an effective treatment for a wide range of adolescent and family issues including:

  • Conduct disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Drug abuse
  • Violence
  • School problems

What can I expect from my therapist?

The FFT model is appealing because of its clear identification of three specific phases that organize family change in a coherent manner. Each phase in the change process includes specific goals, assessments, interventions, and clinical skills necessary for success.

The Savio therapist will lead the family through each phase of intervention:

  • Phase One: ENGAGE AND MOTIVATE the youth and family by decreasing negativity, blaming and hopelessness. Develop more respectful, positive and sensitive interactions between family members.
  • Phase Two: CHANGE BEHAVIOR by reducing and eliminating problem behavior. Family relationship patterns are changed by targeting risk factors and building upon individual and systemic skills.
  • Phase Three: GENERALIZE CHANGE by increasing the family’s capacity to utilize community resources and sustain positive changes. Therapists work to help families maintain and enhance changes through use of community systems and resources.

For more information contact: Nicole Deherrera, 719-351-5712 ext. 314

To learn more about the FFT model, please visit