About Us : What is the BSFT® Program?

What is the BSFT® Program?

“The BSFT® Program is a cost-effective, evidence-based, family-focused intervention which improves family interaction, treats conduct problems and reduces delinquency and drug use.” – José Szapocznik, Ph.D., BSFT® Program Developer and Director, Center for Family Studies

Brief Strategic Family Therapy® (BSFT®) is designed to:

  • Prevent, reduce, and/or treat youth behavior problems.
  • Improve family functioning, including effective parental leadership and involvement with the youth. (Improve youth’s behavior by improving family relationships.)

The BSFT® Program targets children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 who are displaying or are at risk for developing behavior problems, including substance abuse, conduct problems and delinquency. The BSFT® Program has been implemented as a prevention, early intervention and intervention strategy for delinquent and substance-abusing adolescents.

The BSFT® Program is typically delivered in 12 to 16 family sessions, depending on the severity of the communication and management problems within the family. Sessions are conducted at locations that are convenient to the family, including the family’s home in some cases. The BSFT® Program has been implemented with Hispanic, African-American and white families.

The BSFT® Program considers adolescent symptomatology to be rooted in maladaptive family interactions, inappropriate family alliances, overly rigid or permeable family boundaries, and parents’ tendency to believe that a single individual (usually the adolescent) is responsible for the family’s troubles. The BSFT® Program operates according to the assumption that transforming how the family functions will help improve the youth’s presenting problem. The focus of the work is on how interactions occur. The emphasis is on identifying the nature of the interactions in the family and changing those interactions that are maladaptive.

Engagement begins from the first contact with the family. The BSFT® Program has developed specialized procedures to successfully engage families into treatment.

There are three intervention components in the BSFT® Program: joining, diagnosing, and restructuring. Joining occurs at two levels. At the individual level, the therapist establishes a relationship with each family member. At the family level, the therapist joins with the family system to create a new therapeutic system.

In the BSFT® Program, diagnosis refers to observing how family members behave with one another, in order to identify interactional patterns that allow or encourage problematic youth behavior.

The ultimate goal of the BSFT® Program is to change family interactions that maintain the problems to more effective and adaptive ones. The BSFT® Program accomplishes this restructuring task working in the present, using reframes, assigning tasks and coaching family members to try new ways of relating to one another.

The BSFT® therapist receives ongoing supervision and accountability to the fidelity of the model. All therapy sessions are video recorded for the purpose of providing the best possible supervision and consultation to meet the specific and individual needs of each family being served.

The BSFT® Program’s unique video feedback allows the trainer and the therapist to observe and communicate during case supervision and consultation, while reviewing actual video recordings of the therapist’s work with individual families. The BSFT® Program helps families grow through strengthening relationships, building connections and creating long-lasting change.

Please contact the Brief Strategic Family Therapy® Institute at 305-243-7585 (bsft@med.miami.edu) to learn more about supervision to competency, consultations, assessments, outcome evaluations, booster workshops and site licensing.