Ecologically Based Family Therapy for Adolescents Who Have Left Home
This book chapter describes ecologically based family therapy (EBFT) and its application to treating homeless youth. Youth who are experiencing homelessness have frequently experienced high levels of family conflict and a lack of family support. They often experience maltreatment, including verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as emotional neglect and rejection. The problems youth face at home are often motivators for leaving home and a barrier to returning. This means that including the family in intervention efforts can optimize positive outcomes. The chapter discusses components of the EBFT intervention, including session logistics, training, engaging adolescents and primary caregivers, and family therapy techniques. It also details common situations observed among youth who have left home and their families. They include leaving the shelter or home, transitioning back to the home, situations in which caregivers are under investigation for child abuse, and when caregivers refuse to allow the youth to live in the home. Also discussed are implementation considerations.