Utilizing Family Strengths and Resilience: Integrative Family and Systems Treatment withChildren and Adolescents with Severe Emotional and Behavioral Problems

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Community mental health agencies are consistently challenged to provide realistic and effective home-based family-centered treatment that meets local needs and can realistically fit within available budget and resource capabilities. Integrated Family and Systems Treatment (I-FAST) is developed based on existing evidence-based approaches for working with at-risk children, adolescents, and families and a strengths perspective. I-FAST identified 3 evidence-based, core treatment components and integrated them into a coherent treatment protocol; this is done in a way that builds on and is integrated with mental health agencies’ existing expertise in home-based treatment. This is an intervention development study in which we conducted an initial feasibility trial of I-FAST for treating families with children at risk of out-of-home placement. The outcomes of the study provide initial empirical evidence that supports the effectiveness of I-FAST. Findings indicate that there were significant improvements in child behavior, significant increases in parental competency,and significant increases in the level of cohesion and adaptability in these families. All observed changes were significant from pre- to posttreatment with the families able to maintain these positive changes at 6-month follow-up. A more rigorous and robust research design, however, will be needed to establish definitive evidence of the effectiveness of I-FAST.



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