Model Family Programs for Delinquency Prevention
Rating * Exemplary Target * 0-18 Speciality * Family Therapy
Program * Structural Family Therapy
Description *

  In 1975, the Spanish Family Guidance Center (a component of the Center for Family Studies) adopted Brief Structural/Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) as its core approach (Szapocznik and Kurtines, 1989). One Person Family Therapy, Family Effectiveness Training, Bicultural Effectiveness Training, Structural Ecosystems Therapy and Structural Ecosystems Prevention have all been developed based on the BSFT model. The therapy evolved from a program with Cuban-American families with drug abusing and behavior problem youth, and is currently applied to families from other Hispanic-American groups and African-American families. Structural Ecosystems Therapy, which is an ecosystem version of BSFT is currently being applied and tested in the treatment of families of African-American HIV+ women and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease, in addition to drug abusing youth.

Therapy is tailored to each specific family and delivered to individual families, sometimes in their homes. A basic premise of BSFT is that one important factor giving rise to symptoms such as substance abuse are families' maladaptive ways of relating. Therapists seek to change these maladaptive interaction patterns by choreographing family interactions in session in order to create the opportunity for new, more functional interactions to emerge. Major techniques used are joining (engaging and entering the family system), diagnosing (identifying maladaptive interactions and family strengths), and restructuring (transforming maladaptive interactions). Therapists are trained to assess and facilitate healthy family interactions based on cultural norms of the family being helped. BSFT has been rigorously evaluated in a number of studies with experimental designs. The approaches have been found to be effective in improving youth behavior, reducing recidivism among youthful offenders, and in improving family relationships.


    Contact * Jose Szapocznik
(Contact: Victoria B. Mitrani, Ph.D.)  
    Address* 1425 NW 10th Avenue, Third Floor 
        Miami, FL  33136
    Phone * 305 243-4592
    Email  * 
    Dept. of Health Promotion and Education

Funded by - Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention