Spreading the Word on Functional Family Therapy

On June 23, SaintA, in a partnership with Department of Child and Family Services, had the great pleasure of introducing the Functional Family Therapy program (FFT) to Milwaukee. Understanding the need to provide support and encouragement for Milwaukee’s at-risk youth and their families, FFT aims to provide strength-based and solutions-focused therapy that not only supports the identified youth but engages the entire family. As a clinical coordinator for FFT, I have had the pleasure of meeting with community stakeholders to educate them regarding FFT.

So what exactly do I do as clinical coordinator for FFT? Some days I wonder myself! No two days have been the same so far; each day is its own new adventure. I’ve had the pleasure of going out in the community and meeting with various system partners to spread the gospel of FFT. Each interaction is different, but my main role is to inform people about FFT, talk about families they think might be appropriate for referral and support them in identifying any other families that might be appropriate and/or who they think could benefit from our program. Overall it has been a pleasurable experience.

Luciana Gonzalez

One thing that sticks out in my mind so far through this process is the passion that everybody has for their particular role, the children they work with, and what they see as being the best plan of action to best assist the children and their families. My attempt so far has been to explain FFT, as it is brand new to Milwaukee.

FFT is an evidence-based model that has received international recognition for its outcomes in helping troubled youth and their families. It is a short-term program designed to strengthen and motivate families and pave the way for children to become adaptive, successful and more independent. Our goals are simply to empower families to be their own go-to in dealing with and resolving issues that we all face on a daily basis. In doing so, our hope is to reduce the number of Milwaukee youth who become involved in juvenile justice system, reduce recidivism for those already involved, and keep our youth where they belong — in homes with their loved ones.

Reactions from system partners have ranged from slight resistance to overwhelming joy from those who have become frustrated trying more traditional treatment methods. As we continue to network and get the word out about FFT, I am truly excited about all of the possibilities that may exist. Our first enrollees are getting started, and I am overjoyed at the prospect of their success. Since our program works on moving forward, not living in the past, our families feel empowered as quickly as we complete the intake.

Currently we have seven therapists providing FFT, and each is motivated and excited to bring this model to the families we serve. I am also excited and have a renewed sense of enthusiasm to be a part of a program I truly believe in!

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