Group & Family Therapy

Group Treatments

Many evidence-based individual therapies can also be delivered in group formats. Group treatments can be a blend of youth and caregiver focused content. Group treatments can also be completed with youth among peers who have similar challenges or be directed at the caregiver for youth. Examples of  group treatments for youth include Cognitive Behavioral Therapies or Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Parent Management Training for managing challenging child behaviors is effectively delivered in group settings.  Parents can learn from each others' experience in implementing recommended practices.  There is also increasing evidence for treating childhood anxiety disorders through parent-focused groups (SPACE treatment).

Family Therapy

Almost all therapies for youth should include a family member, even if only for the purpose of assessment and treatment goal setting. Family therapies, as described here, typically involve all or the majority of the family unit being available for the treatment sessions. Family therapy focuses on the challenges with interactions between and among family members. Family therapy can be especially helpful when a child's behavioral or emotional challenges are related to conflict elsewhere in the family.

Family therapies goals typically focus on reducing conflict, promoting communication, and improving the function of an individual or multiple individuals in the family. Family therapists are likely to perceive a youth’s challenges within the larger context of the family system, rather than due to individual deficits.

Established evidence-based family therapies include:

  • Family-Based Behavioral Treatment have been found effective in treating substance use, disordered eating, and other health-related behaviors.  Family-based behavioral treatment uses modeling, identifying rewards, implementing consequences, and being mindful of how children’s behaviors get reinforced.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is a family-based parent training treatment for young children (2-8) with emotional and behavioral disorders. It emphasizes improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns.
  • Functional Family Therapy (FFT) was developed to help youth with behavioral and substance use concerns. The goals in Functional Family Therapy are to motivate adolescents, build communication and conflict management skills and improve effective parenting.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) and Multisystemic therapy (MST) are both family-focused treatments for variety of behavioral issues in youth. Both treatments view challenges arising from the multiple contexts in which youth and families engage.