Family Functional Therapy, Anglicare

Program theory

Family Functional Therapy (FFT) uses a model of short-term, assertive outreach to assist young people with behavioural and emotional issues and their caregivers to repair and strengthen their relationships, improve the way they communicate and reduce conflict in the home. 


Average 12-20 sessions over 3-5 months. 

Program components

FFT uses a strengths-based model built on a foundation of acceptance and respect. 

Key ‘phases’ of the program include engagement, motivation, relational assessment, behaviour change and generalisation. 

Program description

Anglicare describes the five major components of FFT as:

  • Building a trusting relationship between the family and practitioner
  • Working to reduce conflict, increase motivation for change and a positive family environment
  • Identifying how family interactions can affect behaviour
  • Working to improve communication and conflict management skills
  • Extending changes into other areas and family support networks, such as extended family members, teachers and youth justice workers.

The program is designed to step participants through each of these phases one after the other, although practitioner’s approach is flexible to accommodate change that does not always occur in a linear progression.


In addition to FFT outcomes measures listed above, Anglicare also completes the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Baseline and Follow Up) and the Personal Wellbeing Indicator (PWI-A) (Baseline and Follow Up). 


The young person must be aged 10-18 

(FFT-CW program is aimed at working with caregivers of 0-18-year-old children) 

Service sites

Frankston, Lalor x 2 

(FFT-CW program operates in Bendigo and Preston) 


FFT service providers are required to collect data from both young people and caregivers. 

Proximal outcomes 

Improved family functioning evidenced by: 

  • Improved communication skill 
  • Improved adolescent behaviour 
  • Improved parenting skills for handling subsequent problems 
  • Improved parental supervision 
  • Decreased family conflict 

Distal outcomes 

  • Young person remains at home 
  • Young person in school/education/employment 
  • Young person is violation free (where relevant) 
  • Young person has improved mental health 

 This program has been collecting information since the 1970s. However, testing has not occurred specifically on the cohort of adolescents using violence in the home.  

For a summary of research, please see: 

Anglicare evalutions

In addition to FFT outcomes measures listed above, Anglicare also completes the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Baseline and Follow Up) and the Personal Wellbeing Indicator (PWI-A) (Baseline and Follow Up).  


The young person is referred from Child Protection, youth justice, education, mental health or other child and family services. 

Further reading

Alexander, J.A., Waldron, H., & Robbins, M., & Neeb, A. (2013). Functional Family Therapy for Adolescent Behavior Problems. American Psychological Association. 

Blueprints for Health Youth Development: 

California Based Clearing House for Child Welfare: 

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