who appear too complicated to be shoehorned into some neat, manualized treatment protocol. By contrast, Functional Family Therapy is a particularly effective approach with oppositional or conduct-disordered, school-failing kids. It provides a staged, sequential framework to reduce negativity, blame, and negative attributions and teach and rehearse pro-social, problem-solving skills. The underlying issues are addressed only when the emotionality has been moderated and family members are themselves hopeful, motivated, and ready to take responsibility. The keys to success, as you’ll learn in this workshop, are avoiding a rush to “fix things” before the family is motivated to change, keeping the focus on relationship and shared responsibility, and emphasizing the rehearsal of newly learned skills.
Thomas Sexton, Ph.D., one of the developers of Functional Family Therapy, is a professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at Indiana University. His books include The Handbook of Family Therapy and Functional Family Therapy in Clinical Practice.