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Parent and Youth Perspectives and Retention in Functional Family Therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Process
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


This qualitative study aimed to understand factors relating to dropout in Functional Family Therapy (FFT) through exploring the experience of families who have completed FFT and those who have dropped out from therapy. Individual interviews were undertaken with parents and adolescents from 12 families who had completed FFT therapy in England and eight families who had dropped out from therapy. Using thematic analysis, six themes were established, clustered within three domains. The patterns of responses across the accounts of families who did and did not complete FFT suggest processes that may facilitate retention in FFT. These include relational processes specific to family therapy including having a shared problem definition and a balanced therapeutic alliance. In addition, processes commonly observed across both individual- and family-based interventions were found. These include the credibility and relevance of the therapeutic work, openness in therapy, and practical barriers. Findings also suggest that establishing motivation to participate in therapy may be more important for retention in therapy than overcoming practical barriers. Barriers to retention in therapy also differ for parents and young people. These differences highlight the importance of the therapist maintaining credibility and support for parents while concurrently reducing blame toward the young person to encourage youth openness. Findings have implications for therapist actions to retain families when using the FFT model.

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