Family Functional Therapy (FFT) is just one of many services that we offer at Southwest Key Programs. FFT is a 3– to 4-month in-home therapeutic program for youth ages 11-18 and their families. It’s designed to create a healthy family support system for at-risk youth by improving family communication, behavioral dynamics and expectations in the home.
We’ve served over 400 youth and families in the last year, with 79% of youth remaining free of new charges and 85% remaining in their communities after discharge. But we’d like to share one specific story about how FFT can help families thrive.
When Southwest Key Therapist Nicholas Raines met with Bryshaun Hill and his family for their first session of FFT, he found a group of people who loved each other dearly but were frequently negative with each other and about each other. Bryshaun and his whole family— his two brothers, and his mother—tended to turn anything into a joke, even when it wasn’t appropriate for the moment. (They were often pretty good jokes, too!)
“One of the methods in FFT is to reduce negativity and blame by reframing the situation, finding the noble intent behind each family member’s actions and bringing that forward instead of the negativity.``
-Nicholas Dallas Raines
“I noticed that a lot of those jokes were at each other’s expense, so I worked with the family to address it,” Nicholas said. “There was a noble intent of bringing laughter and comfort for Bryshaun, while Bryshaun was seeking affirmation in his own jokes.”
While using humor was an important part of the family’s dynamic, Nicolas helped them see how much jokes about each other’s weaknesses were harmful, even if they got a laugh. Bryshaun needed more positive affirmation from his loved ones. Nicholas worked with the family to change the type of humor being used and helped create a more positive environment for the whole family. The Hills continued to work with Nicholas, fully integrating this change and discovering the noble intent behind their behaviors.
Ultimately, the family grew closer and even found new ways to be hilarious with each other—and Bryshaun even began considering how to turn his talent for comedy into a career path for himself. By the end of their sessions with Nicholas, they had found a newer, healthier relationship for their family without having to give up on the humor they all valued.