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Recommended Reading

Intervening in Children’s Lives: An Ecological, Family-Centered Approach to Mental Health Care, by Thomas J. Dishion and Elizabeth A. Stormshak (APA Books, 2007)
Intervening in Children's Lives


Services Agencies

Core to the FCU model is that it can be used as the organizing feature of a family-centered treatment for child and adolescent mental health and drug use problems. The book “Intervening in Children’s Lives” by Dishion and Stormshak (2007) provides a thorough description of how to use the Family Check-Up for mental health and drug abuse treatment.

The most common features of child and adolescent mental health problems and drug use are family conflict and emotional dysregulation in the child and often in the family. Regardless of the nature of the mental health problem, parents may not be the cause, but they are almost always a major part of the solution and treatment. The Family Check-Up approach provides a solid foundation of assessment and diagnosis and tailors interventions to specific needs of the family and child. In the outpatient clinic at the University of Oregon Child and Family Center, all children and families are treated using the Family Check-Up model no matter what the diagnosis, whether it is bipolar disorder, major depression, autism spectrum disorders, disruptive behavior problems, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, drug use and dependence, or schizophrenia.

In the assessment and feedback sessions of the FCU, the family’s strengths and areas of concern are identified so that research-based interventions can be tailored and adapted to meet the family’s specific needs. For example, for a depressed adolescent whose family is undergoing a marital transition, treatment could consist of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for the individual adolescent and an intervention that emphasizes relationship building and positive behavior support for the parents. Ultimately, both the adolescent and parents would engage in an intervention most suited to their specific situation. The FCU model fits well as an organizing service for combining psychopharmacological treatment with services that improve parents’ and caregivers’ skills in managing the mental health problem of the child and adolescent.

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