According to a new study led by Michael S. Robbins of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BFST) is a more effective form of treatment for adolescent substance users than traditional drug treatment provided in community programs. Teens with substance use problems often find themselves thrown into treatment as usual (TAU) programs offered within their towns and cities. Adolescents in the criminal justice system are even more likely to receive TAU rather than specialized therapy such as BFST. The researchers worked within the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network to gather the participants for their study. They enrolled 480 adolescents and families and provided either TAU or BFST services. The teens were assessed for drug use each month for 12 months, and the family progress was evaluated quarterly throughout the year.
Some of the families were put into the BFST group and were taught how to deal with relational and systemic interactions that stemmed from the drug use and its ensuing consequences. The BFST group was also exposed to traditional family therapy theories during their four months of treatment. The remaining participants were given TAU. The results revealed that the teens in the TAU group reported a significantly higher amount of drug use at 12 months than those in the BFST. “The results demonstrated that the BSFT intervention was significantly more effective than TAU in engaging and retaining adolescents into treatment and improving parent-reported family functioning,” said Robbins. “In this study, adolescents in TAU were 2.5 times more likely to fail to engage and 1.41 times more likely to fail to retain in treatment than adolescents in the BSFT condition. The current findings provide support for the impact of the BSFT intervention on engagement, retention, and parent-reported family functioning with adolescents from diverse racial/ethnic groups.”
Robbins, M. S., Feaster, D. J., Horigian, V. E., Rohrbaugh, M., Shoham, V., Bachrach, K., Miller, M., Burlew, K. A., Hodgkins, C., Carrion, I., Vandermark, N., Schindler, E., Werstlein, R., & Szapocznik, J. (2011, October 3). Brief Strategic Family Therapy Versus Treatment as Usual: Results of a Multisite Randomized Trial for Substance Using Adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025477
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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