Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is committed to the highest standards of training, consultation, and service. FFT trains and certifies groups of three to eight therapists in a wide variety of settings. We ask potential FFT providers/sites to begin by reviewing the materials on this page and contacting us to complete the application for site certification. A conference call will then be arranged with representatives of the site and FFT to answer questions, identify challenges and think through the next steps. Once both parties concur the site is ready to proceed, FFT training will be scheduled.
Phases of FFT Training
Through a mutual commitment to the training process and to developing adherence and competence in the FFT model, our phasic implementation process has proven highly successful in community replication of our family therapy model. Phases of the FFT training and certification process include:
- Phase I - Clinical Training
- Phase I - Clinical Training
- Phase II - Supervision Training
- Phase III - Maintenance Phase
The initial goal of the first phase of FFT implementation is to ensure that the site builds a lasting infrastructure that supports clinicians to take maximum advantage of FFT training/consultation. During this phase, staff are trained on the core constructs, assessment, and intervention techniques of FFT, and how to use FFT’s Clinical Services System (CSS) to gather data. Additional time is spent in addressing site-specific implementation challenges (i.e.— referral criteria, referral process, integration of services, working with referral agents, supervision, computers, etc.). It is expected that Phase I be completed in one year, but not any longer than 18 months. By the end of Phase I, FFT’s objective is for clinicians to demonstrate strong adherence and high competence in the FFT model.
The goal of the second phase is to assist the site in creating greater self-sufficiency in FFT, while also maintaining and enhancing site adherence/competence in the model. During this phase, FFT trains a site’s extern to become the onsite supervisor. This intensive, hands-on, training experience focuses on clinical supervision techniques for FFT. After initial training, the onsite supervisor is then supported by FFT via monthly phone consultations and a one-day follow-up training. In addition, FFT provides any ongoing consultation as necessary and reviews the site’s FFT Clinical Services System (CSS) database to measure site/therapist adherence, service delivery trends, and outcomes. Phase II is a year-long process.
The goal of the third phase of FFT implementation is to move into a partnering relationship to ensure ongoing model fidelity and staff development, interagency linking, and program expansion. FFT provides annual training activities and consultation services to support the site’s continuous education and competence in FFT. The annual oversight and consultation practices are considered necessary for an FFT site to remain certified.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many therapists can one onsite supervisor support?
One FFT site supervisor can support up to a team of eight. This includes the site supervisor.
What is a typical caseload?
FFT should be implemented with a team of 3-8 master's level therapists, with caseloads of 10-12 families each.
The site supervisor is also required to carry a caseload. Site supervisors may reduce their caseloads to meet the requirements of the position; however, this caseload must be a minimum of five active cases at all times.
How accessible do FFT clinicians need to be after-hours?
For extenuating clinical issues or those situations that impact agency policy and procedure, FFT would expect that the agency has a designated supervisor or other processes to address after-hours issues.
Early phase interventions address crisis via the model. However, it is not a requirement of the
model to offer 24/7 access to the FFT therapist. Most agencies are required to provide after-hours crisis service.
How often do FFT therapists meet (via virtual formats) with an FFT consultant?
The FFT national consultant will talk to the therapists weekly via virtual format. This call typically occurs at the same time each week. Consultation includes general topics, such as issues around documentation or caseloads, and moves into being more clinical, utilizing the FFT model of supervision and staffing of cases. The weekly call is considered a requirement for site certification, so attendance is mandatory.
How close to the families (in geographic terms) must the FFT therapist be?
Since the risk in the early stages of treatment with families is dropout, FFT therapists meet with families based on risk factors and family needs. Distance should not be a reason why a therapist doesn’t meet with a family. Thus, a site must consider whether the geography a therapist covers will allow them to still be responsive to families, particularly in early sessions. If not, dropout will increase and outcomes will diminish. FFT is used in very rural and remote areas of the world, as well as in the center of large and diverse urban communities.
Are there any mandatory qualifications or experience required to become an FFT therapist or supervisor (apart from FFT training)?
FFT’s recommendation is to use at least master’s level therapists unless extraordinary circumstances require the use of bachelor's level therapists. It is the responsibility of the provider to meet or exceed local licensure and certification requirements. Any person trained as an FFT supervisor must have a minimum of a master’s degree, have completed all Phase I training, have seen two cycles of families, and have been successful in an FFT externship.
Can staff work part-time in FFT and part-time in another service/model as long as they are adherent to FFT in their capacity as an FFT therapist?
Priority should be given to the FFT work the therapist is doing. Sites in this position must consider whether the other work will interfere with FFT activities and scheduling sessions with families when they are available. Many FFT therapists have found switching between two models or work tasks to be difficult, particularly when undergoing FFT training. FFT works with providers through application processes to determine with other non-activities are advisable in a project.
For youth coming out of residential care, can an FFT therapist begin working with the family/client in the weeks immediately preceding residential discharge?
FFT works in different ways with this population. FFT can begin when discharge is imminent and sessions can be held with the identified client and family in the facility or during the youth’s home visit, or FFT can occur as a recommended service at discharge.
The FFT therapist can begin engaging the family and youth before discharge and start FFT immediately once the youth is home. Different potential re-entry models can be explored directly with FFT during the application process.
Is a psychiatrist part of the FFT team? Are they ever contracted in?
FFT has trained psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, and even teachers. Psychiatrists in some states are required to provide medical necessities for a client and will refer to FFT if appropriate. The psychiatrist in this role must understand the structure of the model. Some psychiatrists fulfill an administrative or clinical role while most of the time they are used for consultation with the family around issues such as medication management. Though the costs can be high, in some cases, psychiatrists have been integrated into FFT training and case consultation.
Do you have a sample job description for an FFT Therapist position?
Yes, you can download our sample job description by clicking here.
Do you have a sample of interview questions for an FFT Therapist position?