Brief Strategic Family Therapy: Twenty-Five Years of Interplay among Theory, Research and Practice in Adolescent Behavior Problems and Drug Abuse

José Szapocznik, Robert A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

193 Scopus citations


This article describes a systematic program of research that focuses on Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) and the adaptations that were developed based on BSFT principles. The culture-specific origins of BSFT are reviewed, as well as its broader applications to the field of family therapy. Research is reviewed demonstrating that BSFT is a promising family-based approach to treating Hispanic youth behavior problems and drug abuse. Treatment innovations are described that address the combination of intergenerational and cultural differences that occur among youths and their Hispanic parents. Programmatic work is described that challenges basic principles of family therapy by expanding BSFT to a One Person modality and a strategic engagement procedure. Both of these novel approaches are intended to add tools to therapists' repertoire in working with difficult-to-engage families. A preview discussion of results is presented from a randomized clinical trial that is an application of an ecosystemic prevention version of BSFT. The implications of the work of the Center for Family Studies are discussed in the context of the broader service system. Ultimately, this article articulates a way of thinking about adolescent problem behavior, its social interactional determinants, and a range of theoretically consistent family-centered strategies that attempt to change social ecological processes that impact adolescent developmental trajectories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2000



  • Brief
  • Family-based
  • Hispanic
  • Research
  • Social interaction
  • Systemic research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this