Family Therapy Training Institute of Miami
Helping at-risk children and
adolescents and their families
through the model evidence based programs
Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT)
Family Effectiveness Training (FET)
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9th Floor, Miami, FL 33131
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Last Updated on:: 08 / 26 / 2014
Home Other Programs & Services Strategic Structural Systems<br /> Engagement
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Strategic Structural Systems Engagement -(SSSE)

This BSFT "Engagement" model maintains families in therapy

The most oft heard question among clinicians and providers in the mental health, juvenile justice and substance abuse field goes something like this: “We know that family therapy has proved to be very effective but, how do you get all the family members to come when they don’t want to?”

SSE is an evidence-based intervention designed to enhance the efficacy of other case management and treatment modalities by teaching clinicians to properly engage significant family members and/or members of the identified patient (s) social network. Studies have shown that family involvement, particularly in the case of children and youth, improves case management,  treatment compliance and successful termination, and decreases recidivism.

SSE is ideal for agencies that provide wrap around services, intensive case management and an array of youth and family-based treatment modalities that are also looking for a cost-effective way to implement an EBP. It is also ideal for agencies that provide substance abuse/dependency treatment for both youth and adults, as well as agencies that provide STD education and prevention services.

As part of the development, refinement and testing of BSFT, we set out in the mid 1980’s to design, refine and twice test a model for engagement of resistant families. We were successful in experimentally proving its efficacy. A later replication by FSU MFT Doctoral students proved once more the effectiveness of the BSFT Engagement Model.

Both the FSU study as well as our own "Life Enhancement Program" study for HIV-infected gay males proved that the BSFT Engagement model (SSE) is successful when used to engage and retain families into a therapeutic intervention other than BSFT.

The curriculum includes:
Theoretical foundations of the Model
Reducing Resistance from the Point of Referral and Intake
Diagnosing Resistance Systemically
Mapping Resistant Patterns
Intervening to Overcome Resistance
Forming Sequential Alliances

This workshop will present our Engagement Model via an interactive PowerPoint presentation, class exercises, role play and viewing and analysis of family videotapes.

Contact the Institute for further information and for budget planning purposes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!-- document.write( '</' ); document.write( 'span>' ); //-->


Szapocznik, J., Perez Vidal, A., Hervis, O. E., Brickman, A.L. & Kurtines, W. M. (1989). Innovations in family therapy: Strategies for overcoming resistance to treatment. In R. A. Wells & V.J. Giannetti (Eds.) Handbook of Brief Psychotherapies.  New York: Plenum Publishing Company.

Szapocznik, J., Perez Vidal, A., Brickman, A., Foote, F.H., Santisteban, D., Hervis, O. E., & Kurtines, W. M. (1988).  Engaging adolescent drug abusers and their families into treatment: A strategic structural systems approach.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56 (4), 552-557.   [Reprinted in Annual Review of Addictions Research and Treatment, 1991, 331-336.]

Kaminsky, S., Kurtines, W., Hervis, O. E., Blaney, N., Millon, C., & Szapocznik, J., (1990). Life enhancement counseling with HIV infected Hispanic gay men. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. 12 (2), May 1990, 177-195