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Functional Family Therapy (Action for Children)

Intensive, short-term family intervention for young people with conduct disorders and who are experiencing family conflict.

Project summary

  • Funding awarded: £1.4million
  • Duration of programme: 3 years, 3 months
  • Number of beneficiaries: 319 children aged 8 to 14-years-old
  • Replication areas (Northern Ireland): Newtownabbey, Antrim and Magherafelt, Ballymena, Cookstown, Coleraine and Carrickfergus Larne
  • Replication areas (Scotland): Renfrewshire, Paisley and Johnstone
  • Partners: Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Renfrewshire Council

Intervention: Functional Family Therapy

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an intensive, short-term family intervention programme targeting 11 to 18-year-olds with conduct disorders, experiencing family conflict, displaying violent behaviour, at risk of offending, or on the edge of care.

The programme lasts between three and six months depending on the assessed level of need. Moderate cases would receive, on average, eight to 13 sessions, with more serious cases receiving 20 to 30.

The intervention programme itself consists of three major components:

  • engagement and motivation sessions, designed to gain the buy-in of participants
  • behaviour change, designed to combat issues specific to the referral
  • generalization, designed to widen the learning and strategies developed during therapy to other areas of participants lives.

While these overarching components are fixed, sessions within these areas are flexible, responding to need and risk as defined by the clinician.

The programme will be conducted by social workers trained with fidelity to the FFT model, who will work with families in group sessions, normally in their home environment. Therapists will also work with families to improve communication and supportiveness, decrease negativity, develop parenting strategies and develop positive behavioural changes.

Delivery organisation: Action for Children

Action for Children is a children’s charity that works with over 50,000 children and young people of all ages. It runs 480 projects across the UK, and tackles issues such as child neglect and abuse.

Action for Children also provides services to children in care, disabled children and young people; including adoption and fostering services, family support services, and specialist schools.

Contact details