Filial Therapy (FT) is a structured family intervention that lasts between 15 and 20 weeks and allows the parent to work directly with their child, becoming the primary agent of change for their child. It has a strong focus on repairing and strengthening the relationship between the parent and the child as well as addressing the presenting problems for that family. Throughout the FT process, the therapist and parent work together to focus on the strengths of the family and create skills that are useful across a variety of settings and situations. Two of the greatest benefits of FT are that it builds on the belief that the parent is the expert in their child’s life and that the parent, upon completing the FT process, has a set of skills they can use throughout the rest of their parenting years. It is an intervention that allows the parent to be self sufficient in addressing both the current and future needs of the parent-child relationship.
The research shows that FT reduces parent stress, helps parents increase their understanding and acceptance of their children, decreases the presenting problem for the child and increases parent’s skill level. FT can be used to address a wide range of child and family problems including but not limited to issues related to trauma and maltreatment, witness of violence, anxiety, depression, separation and divorce, grief and loss, attachment problems (including reactive attachment disorder) and parental incarceration. Implementation of FT has been successful across cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The relationships between the perpetrating parent, the victim parent and their children are damaged for a variety of reasons when domestic violence occurs. When clinically appropriate, FT can initiate the process of repairing the relationship between the child and one or both parents. WCFOC offers FT to families as a way to address dysfunctional family patterns and provides the tools for families to go out into the world and be successful on their own.