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Family-focused Program Types

Follows are descriptions of the terms used to classify the approach utilized by a specific prevention program. This may be helpful in understanding the structure and the means of service delivery.

Behavioral Parent Training. This highly structured approach (Mrazek & Haggerty, 1994)1 includes parents only, generally in small groups led by a skilled trainer or clinician. The information presented typically follows a curriculum guide. Sessions often include video presentations of effective and ineffective ways of parenting; short lectures and discussions to identify parenting principles; interactive exercises; role plays of direct practice in the parenting behavior to be changed; charting and monitoring of parenting and children's behavior and assignment of homework.

Family Skills Training or Behavioral Family Therapy. This multi-component prevention approach combines: 1) behavioral parent training; 2) children's life skills training; and 3) family relationship enhancement. Typically, while the parents participate in the parenting group, the children are engaged in their skill training session. After completion of these sessions, the parents and children come together for the family session. Contents of the children's program often include: identification of feelings; emotional management; problem solving; decision making; peer resistance skills and communication skills. The family session often focuses on practicing learned skilled to increase effective family communication and functioning.

Family Therapy. This prevention approach is typically implemented with youth diagnosed as having milder emotional and behavioral problems such as conduct disorder, depression, and school or social problems. Usually the sessions are conducted by trained therapists in clinical settings. If not treated, the identified conditions can lead to more severe problems such as delinquency or drug use. The therapy sessions are often conducted with the parents and child but can include the entire family unit. Issues such as communication and relationship building are addressed in the context of the presenting problem.

Family In-home Support. This approach provides a wide range of family services through in-home case management. A broad range of services can be offered to the family with the case manager acting as a referral source or link between the family and community services. Access to resources such as shelter, food, employment and education are often provided through this approach. This approach is usually combined with parent education, modeling appropriate behavior, and in-home advice. Modeling of positive interaction with the child is often a mechanism used by the case manager.

Comprehensive Approaches. These approaches utilize a varied and broad array of strategies and services for prevention. Typically parenting and family support is combined with community environmental changes. Integrated in this approach are services such as behavioral health and mental health services. Generally the intervention is provided through coordination of a case manager who works directly with the family to access services.






          1. Mrazek, P.J., & Haggerty, R. J., (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press for the Institute of Medicine, Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders. National Institute on Drug Abuse
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