Juvenile Court Probation Services offers three "evidence-based" programs to juveniles and their families:
- Aggression Replacement Training (ART)
- Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
- Multi-Systemic Therapy / Family Integrated Transition (MST/FIT)
Studies show that these programs help to keep juveniles from breaking the law.
What is Aggression Replacement Training?
Aggression Replacement Training (ART) was developed to teach participants to replace inappropriate behavior with positive skills, anger control, and moral reasoning. Participants learn as a group in a classroom format.
ART is designed for juvenile law offenders ages 12 to 18 who are on probation. Graduates of the program learn to make better choices when confronted by situations they would previously have reacted to with anger or other non-constructive behaviors.
During class, students participate in role-playing various real-life situations and learn new behavioral skills. The students keep diaries to record examples of these situations outside of class and how they dealt with them. These behaviors can be discussed in class as well. An interpreter can be used if there is a language barrier.
Who Can Attend
Participants are youth between the ages of 12 and 18 referred by a juvenile probation counselor or Becca case manager. Aggression Replacement Training is comprised of three components:
- Learning positive ways to express a complaint, respond to the feelings of others, prepare for a difficult conversation, respond to anger, keep out of fights, help others, deal with an accusation, deal with group pressure, express affection, and respond to failure.
- Teaching students how to identify when they are angry, recognize the cues that let them know when they are experiencing anger, and use techniques to reduce angry feelings.
- Uses problem situations in a group discussion to build understanding for everyday life.
At the end of ART, participants will have:
- Increased social skills;
- A greater ability to choose positive options in a disagreement;
- A better chance at staying out of trouble with the law and remaining in the community;
- Fewer angry responses to situations; and
- Learned the techniques of control when angry.
The classes are held three times per week for 10 weeks for a total of 30 hours. Each component is taught once a week. Classes are one hour long and held in various locations throughout King County. At the end of the program, participants who have successfully completed all 30 hours of the training are rewarded with a graduation. Incentives are provided throughout the 10 weeks for successes in classroom participation.
Aggression Replacement Training has been in practice since 1978 and taught in King County since 1998. The class is taught by a Washington State ART-certified trainer and co-trainer or assistant. ART has been designated a Model Program by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Washington State Institute of Public Policy has conducted studies showing that ART reduces future crime and associated cost to the public.
Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a well-documented and highly successful family intervention program for at risk and Juvenile Justice involved youth and their families. Sessions are held in the family's home and focus on teaching communication and problem-solving skills. Having these skills can decrease family negativity and reduce risk factors that may lead to continued involvement in the system. Other goals include assessing family relationship styles, identifying possible solutions to family problems and finding ways to change behavior that fit for each member of the family. The therapist and the family work together to define the family's challenges and create goals.
Each phase includes specific goals, assessments, intervention techniques and therapist skills necessary for success. There are three phases within FFT therapy:
- Engagement and Motivation: designed to prevent the youth and family from dropping out of the program and to create the understanding within the family that positive change can be long lasting.
- Behavior Change: involves communication training, basic parenting skills, and contracts between the family members.
- Generalization: during this phase, counseling is guided by the family's needs, as well as their interactions between community resources and the family's challenges.
Involvement in Functional Family Therapy usually lasts 3 to 4 months, with an average of 12 hours of counseling. More sessions of in-home counseling are available for more difficult situations. Each therapist has a caseload of 8 to 10 clients, allowing the families to have easy access to the therapist. Therapy is on a weekly basis and the entire family is involved in the session. Interpreters can be used if there is a language barrier.
Who FFT is Intended to Help
In King County, Functional Family Therapy is recommended by a juvenile probation counselor for families who have youth between the ages of 12 to 18, who show problems that can include acting out behaviors, substance abuse, and/or conduct disorders; are on active community supervision; and are deemed to be a moderate to high level risk to reoffend.
Research has found that FFT is capable of:
- Increasing the ability of families to handle problems and challenges within their family and community.
- Effectively treating adolescents who show at-risk and acting out behaviors, substance use and are delinquent and/or violent.
- Reducing offending behaviors by the adolescent that could result in new criminal offenses, either juvenile or adult.
- Preventing the need for youth to be placed either in in-patient treatment programs or in juvenile rehabilitation facilities that both disrupt the successful family functioning and have much higher costs.
- Preventing younger children in the family from disruptive behaviors.
- Reducing the need for these families from using other.
Creating Stability At Home
Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) and Family Integrated Transition (FIT) are intensive home and family-oriented treatment programs. They are found to be effective in reducing high-risk acting out behaviors in youth; to empower the parents with the skills and resources needed to independently address the difficulties that arise in raising youth and empowers them to cope with the family, peer, school and issues outside their home environment.
The therapy offers goal-oriented and practical methods of dealing with family issues. MST/FIT can help a family reduce a teen's criminal activity and reduce antisocial behavior, such as poor school performance, poor choice in friends, family conflict and other home issues, substance abuse, and mental health issues. The therapy also helps to keep a teen in their home environment by reducing the barriers that keep families from receiving needed services.
MST/FIT participants work with a therapist for 4 to 6 months. The therapist is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and sessions are held in the family's home. The treatment plan is designed with family members and is family-driven rather than therapist-driven. Attention is given to the things in the youth's and family's social network that are linked with antisocial behavior. Interpreters can be used if there is a language barrier.
Parents Part of Solution
Parents are an important part of how MST/FIT works. The therapy is designed to give parents the support and skills they need to provide a positive environment and the community services necessary to achieve long term success for their youth. The MST/FIT approach also recognizes that parents are not alone. A family's wider circle of relatives, friends, schools, neighborhood, and church all play a role in helping the family resolve problems.
Who MST Can Help
MST/FIT targets juvenile offenders and their families who may need help with the youth's mental health or substance abuse problems. In King County these youth are on community supervision and are assessed to be high-risk and at risk to be placed outside of their home (either through incarceration or inpatient treatment). These youth are between the ages of 12 and 18 and have a minimum of 4 to 6 months of supervision to complete.
About MST Therapists
All therapists providing MST/FIT are Master's-level therapists or, in some cases, highly competent Bachelor's-level professionals. They must participate in an intensive five-day training and must attend additional training four times per year. Therapists receive a minimum of weekly consultation with an MST/FIT Services trained consultant and with a clinical supervisor. Each MST/FIT treatment team consists of three to four therapists, with each therapist carrying a caseload of four to five families.