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Brief Strategic Family Therapy Versus Community Control: Engagement, Retention, and an Exploration of the Moderating Role of Adolescent Symptom Severity

NCJ Number
Family Process Volume: 40 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2004 Pages: 313-32
J. Douglas Coatsworth; Daniel A. Santisteban; Cami K. McBride; José Szapocznik
Date Published
20 pages

The authors of this paper discuss the impacts of a family-systems model for engagement and retention of families and/or youth in treatment.


This study extends a program of research investigating the effectiveness of Brief Strategic Family Therapy to engage and retain families and/or youth in treatment. The study contrasted Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) with a Community Comparison (CC) condition selected to represent the common engagement and treatment practices of the community; 104 families were randomly assigned to BSFT or CC. Results indicate that families assigned to BSFT had significantly higher rates of engagement (81 percent compared to 61 percent) and retention (71 percent vs. 42 percent). BSFT was also more effective than CC in retaining more severe cases. Post hoc analyses of treatment effectiveness suggest that BSFT was able to achieve comparable treatment effects despite retaining more difficult cases. The authors discuss these results from a public health perspective, and highlight the study's contribution to a small but growing body of literature that suggests the benefits of a family-systems paradigm for engagement and retention in treatment. Publisher Abstract Provided