Brief Strategic Family Therapy

Drug addiction rates among adolescents are increasing rapidly in the last twenty years. While most drug abuse starts because of experimentation and curiosity, a minority persists and eventually leads to addiction. Several studies revealed that dysfunctional family relationships are the among primary reasons why young people, particularly males, turn to drugs.

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
― Jay Asher

The best way to help an adolescent recover from addiction is through brief strategic family therapy or BSFT. This rehabilitation intervention is family-based and geared towards the treatment and prevention of behavioral problems, such as addiction, among children and adolescents (from the age of 8 to 17). The ultimate goal of this treatment approach is to improve the patient’s behavior by improving the state of family interaction. BSFT presumes that the behavior of the adolescent is directly related to his existing family dynamics.

Underlying Principles

Brief strategic family therapy is a program that is anchored on three key principles:

  • BSFT is an approach that is rooted in family systems — Family members are essentially interdependent – what goes on with one family member is directly related to what is happening to another member. This theory implies the patient’s drug dependency problem is suggestive of what is going on within the patient’s family.
  • BSFT believes that the system or manner of interaction within the family greatly affects the behavior of every family member — The system or manner of interaction refers to habitual sequential behaviors that the members of the family exhibit repeatedly (pattern of behavior). The focus of the counselor in BSFT, therefore, is determining the patterns of family interaction that are influencing the drug addiction of the patient.
  • BSFT intends to provide necessary interventions that will improve the negative patterns of interaction within the family. The treatment program that will be carried out targets the negative family behavioral patterns directly related to the patient’s addiction problem.


Unlike other rehabilitation programs that tend to be longer in duration as they try to deal with numerous facets of the individual, BSFT is only short-term and is focused specifically on the problem alone. This treatment approach consists of about 12 to 15 sessions within a span of three months. A session runs from a minimum of an hour to an hour and a half. While these are the standards, the program can be extended depending on the severity of the patient’s problem.

Considering the assumption that certain maladaptive family interactions, causes the drug dependency in the adolescent patient, BSFT works to accurately address and improve said maladaptive behaviors in the family through the following methods:

  • Joining – this is when the counselor engages the members and tries to enter into the family system.
  • Diagnosing – during this phase, the therapist determines the strengths as well as the dysfunctional interactions in the family.
  • Restructuring – this is where addressing the problem begins; the counselor will work on improving the difficult interactions in the family.

“Let’s not become too busy to keep in touch with those who really matter most and need us. Life’s short, but let’s make an indelible purposeful and powerful impact with it”
― Bernard Kelvin Clive

If you know someone who is currently battling a drug dependency you can contact us for more information on brief strategic family therapy and other rehabilitation programs that we offer at our facility.

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