The Center for Family Based Training is one of three state approved training centers offering training and consultation in Eco-Systemic Structural Family Therapy (ESFT), the clinical model that informs the Pennsylvania FBMHS program. All therapists and supervisors who work in FBMHS must obtain 273 hours of training in the model over a three-year period and have samples of their clinical work critically reviewed in order to be eligible for certification. The training is designed to foster systematic, skilled application of the model across a wide range of child and adolescent problems, developmental stages, family styles, and cultural backgrounds.
Pennsylvania’s Family Based Mental Health Services program (FBMHS), first launched in 1988, is a 32-week intensive, team-delivered, collaborative treatment service that is provided in the home and community. The program addresses the needs of children (up to age 21) who have serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their multi-stressed families. All counties in the state currently have at least one, and sometimes several, FBMHS providers.
The goals of the FBMHS program include: 1) reducing the referred child’s symptoms and safety concerns, 2) reducing the risk of psychiatric hospitalization or out-of-home placement, and 3) improving the child’s capacity to handle the normal demands of home, school, and the peer community. A unique feature of the FBMHS program is that families are viewed as capable of being the solution to children’s problems; not just an element of the crisis that so often envelops these children and their families. The training offered through the Center for Family Based Training builds the clinical skills critical for helping therapists to intervene effectively in the family, addressing parenting practices, intra-familial relationships, and family-community relationships.
The Center for Family Based Training currently hosts five regional training sites in Pennsylvania where different contracted programs meet for ongoing training. These sites include Norristown, Lebanon, Mt. Gretna, and Harrisburg/Susquehanna and Altoona. We provide a dual curriculum at these sites – one directed at supervisors (30 hours per year) and one directed at front-line therapists (85 hours per year).
Supervision training is comprised of small group supervision-of-supervision, individual consultation, and access to online webinars that provide conceptual foundations. About 75% of therapists’ training involves case presentations, where videotaped treatment sessions are reviewed and discussed by faculty in collaboration with their FBMHS colleagues. We believe that this work is best learned through supported practice and feedback involving real clinical situations encountered on a daily basis. Therapists’ training also includes a conceptual component delivered through live workshops and on-demand online courses.