Social Work Practice Family Treatment essay

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" (Szapocznik, nd) the therapeutic process is stated by Szapocznik to use techniques of:

1) Joining - forming a therapeutic alliance with all family members;

2) Diagnosis - identifying interactional patterns that allow or encourage problematic youth behavior; and 3) Restructuring - the process of changing the family interactions that are directly related to problem behaviors. (Szapocznik, nd)

The Spanish Family Guidance Center in the Center for Family Studies at the University of Miami developed Brief Strategic Family Therapy and it has been used since 1975. Brief Strategic Family Therapy involves "creating a counselor-family work team that develops a therapeutic alliance with each family member and with the family as a whole; diagnosing family strengths and problematic interactions; developing change strategies to capitalize on strengths and correct problematic family interactions; and implementing change strategies and reinforcing family behaviors that sustain new levels of family competence." (Szapocznik, nd) Strategies are inclusive of:

1) Reframing;

2) Changing alliances;

3) Building conflict resolution skills; and 4) Parental empowerment. (Szapocznik, nd)

Brief Strategic Family Therapy can be used in various settings including "community social services agencies, mental health clinics, health agencies and family clinics." (Szapocznik, nd) BFSF is generally in 8 to 12 weekly sessions lasting between one and one-half hours in which the family and the counselor meet either in the office of the program location of in the home of the family. The four primary steps in Brief Strategic Family Therapy are those as follows:

Step One - Organize a counselor-family work team. Development of a therapeutic alliance with each family member and with the family as a whole is essential for BSFT. This requires counselors to accept and demonstrate respect for each individual family member and the family as a whole.

Step 2: Diagnose family strengths and problem relations. Emphasis is on family relations that are supportive and problem relations that affect youths' behaviors or interfere with parental figures' ability to correct those behaviors.

Step 3: Develop a change strategy to capitalize on strengths and correct problematic family relations, thereby increasing family competence. In BSFT, the counselor is plan- and problem focused, direction-oriented (i.e., moving from problematic to competent interactions), and practical.

Step 4: Implement change strategies and reinforce family behaviors that sustain new levels of family competence. Important change strategies include reframing to change the meaning of interactions; changing alliances and shifting interpersonal boundaries; building conflict resolution skills; and providing parenting guidance and coaching. (Szapocznik, nd)


Multidimensional Family Therapy (MFDT) is a "Comprehensive and flexible family-based program for substance-abusing adolescents or those at high risk for substance use and other problems behaviors." (Liddle, nd) the interventions of MDFT target "the research-derived risk factors and processes that have created and perpetuate substance use and related problems such as conduct disorder and delinquency." (Liddle, nd) the interventions of MDFT are systematic in assisting individual and families in their development of "empirically derived protective and healing factors and processes that offset substance use and behavioral problems." (Liddle, nd) MDFT is stated to be."..a multicomponent and multilevel intervention system." (Liddle, nd) MFDT makes assessments and provides intervention multisystemically with the following:

1) the adolescent and parent(s) individually;

2) the family as an interacting system; and 3) the individuals in the family relative to their interactions with influence social systems that impact the development of the adolescent. (Liddle, nd)

Key program approaches and components are stated by Liddle (nd) to include those as follows:

1) Community service;

2) Community collaboration;

3) Parent Training;

4) School collaboration;

5) Skill development; and 6) Substance Abuse/Prevention Education. (Liddle, nd)

MDFT is a multidimensional approach, which works in four specific areas including:

1) the adolescent (self, family, peer);

2) Parent (self, parenting);

3) Family (healthy family functioning); and 4) Extrafamilial (school, neighborhood, legal, social services, and medical)


This work has reviewed three social work and family practice approaches to family therapy: (1) Functional Family Therapy (FFT); (2) Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT); and (3) Multidimensional Family Therapy (MFDT), all of which are used in family treatment and intervention by the social work and family practice professions.


Singer, Jonathan (1994) Triangles: A Study in Three Parts. Life Cycles. 9 Dec 1994. Online available at


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