Treating youth agression and related problems in a social services agency
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Family TIES (training in essential skills) is a multilevel treatment program for helping youth with anger, aggression, and interconnected problems. It is embedded within a social service centre that provides child protective and youth offender services. In this article we summarize the program’s origin and theoretical foundation, and discuss the results of a preliminary investigation. Based on the premise that youth problems emerge largely from family discord, the program involves (a) teaching prosocial and anger management skills to youth, (b) training parents to become supportive coaches for their children, and (c) enacting effective family problem solving within the context of multi-family group sessions. The intention is to replace negative family processes with constructive communication between family members, positive expectations about one another, and shared beliefs in the family’s capacity to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions to problems. As part of an internal investigation of the program, youth-report and parent-report measures of youth behaviour, youth social skills, youth and parent anger, parenting, and family functioning were administered prior to and after delivery of the program. Positive changes were found in principal measures of interest, i.e., reductions in youth aggression, rule breaking, and anger; improved parental monitoring; and fewer family functioning problems. The results provide justification for evaluating Family TIES using an experimental design.