Diego's Story

Diego's Story

Keeping Families Together Through In-Home Therapy

 Meet Diego. Diego is a 15-year-old whose body build and strength makes him appear to be the size of an adult. Diego found that while at home, his temper would flare, and when he and his petite mother would be in a disagreement, he would push past her and walk out of their home, and sometimes wouldn’t come back for long hours at a time.

While being out of the home and feeling upset, Diego soon found himself becoming associated with people happy to involve a kid like him in their illegal activities. His grades began to drop at school, and his outbursts often found him in suspension. It wasn’t before long that Diego became known by local law enforcement.

After a few run-ins with law enforcement, Diego was at-risk for being removed from his home and being placed into a juvenile detention center. However, the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center referred Diego and his mom to begin an in-home treatment plan called Functional Family Therapy (FFT), to keep him in the home, treat the whole family and decrease the possibility of Diego becoming incarcerated in the future.

Immediately Kim, the functional family therapist, met the family where they were, and began in-home therapy in the evenings. At first the family struggled. They weren’t feeling hopeful, so Kim worked with them to realize that the efforts put forth in FFT would eventually result in a better future for not only Diego, but the whole family.

Kim worked with Diego and his mom to engage the family and build alliance with each one. She noted the family’s and individual’s strengths, while not pushing to make behavior changes right away. She observed Diego and his mom’s patterns of interaction, and worked to help them focus on their relationship instead of specific problems. Soon, Diego and his mom realized that they both shared the same temper.

A few weeks into therapy, Kim began to introduce behavior changes practices. Since the sessions were held in the home, Diego and his mom were able to actually practice the new behaviors in a familiar setting during their sessions. During one session, Diego and his mother became very angry with one another.  Kim quickly interrupted the old behavior pattern and diverted them into practicing the new behaviors instead, while utilizing their safety plans, which is an activity from the Sanctuary Model utilized by Cornerstones of Care. This particular session helped everyone realize just how far they had come in working on communication, problem-solving and anger management skills.

After a few more weeks of learning and practicing new skills, Kim, Diego and his mom began talking about a relapse prevention plan. During this discussion, they considered skills they had learned and how they could be actively applied in school, when in contact with law enforcement, and within the larger community. Additionally, Kim worked with them to identify on-going resources and services that they could utilize within their community – such as academic tutoring for Diego, particularly in math.

Diego and his mom were pleased to feel some relief of the stress and fighting they had previously experienced. Diego’s school was pleased to see him communicating better in the classroom with his teachers and peers, and using his new anger management skills when he became frustrated.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a well-documented, short-term, in-home family intervention service for families with youth who have been categorized as delinquent or pre-delinquent youth. We currently offer FFT in 31 counties throughout Kansas and Missouri. The FFT model has demonstrated outcomes over the last 45 years that reduces juvenile recidivism by 25 to 60 percent while positively impacting the health and well-being of the parents and the siblings of referred youth.

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