Comparing individually based and family-based treatments for internalizing, externalizing, and family symptoms in Latino youth

Daniel Santisteban, Maite P. Mena, Brian E. McCabe, Clara Abalo, Marc Puccinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rigorous randomized trials that test promising culturally centered treatments for Latino youth and families are needed. This study adds to the knowledge base by comparing the efficacy of Culturally Informed and Flexible Family Treatment for Adolescents (CIFFTA) to an Individually Oriented Treatment-As-Usual (ITAU) in its ability to retain Latino youth and families in treatment, reduce internalizing and externalizing child symptoms, and improve family functioning. CIFFTA uses an adaptive/flexible approach to deliver individual therapy, family therapy, and psycho-educational modules tailored to each family's unique clinical and cultural characteristics. Two hundred Latino adolescents 11–14 years of age completed a baseline assessment, were randomly assigned to CIFFTA or ITAU, then were assessed again after 16 weeks of intervention. Results show that CIFFTA had significantly higher retention (83%) than ITAU (71%), OR = 2.05, p =.036. Youth in both conditions showed significant reductions in youth and parent reported externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and there were no differences in change between conditions. Parents in CIFFTA reported significantly greater reductions in family conflict, d = 0.38, p =.025 than in ITAU. In CIFFTA, children of less acculturated Latino parents showed more improvement than the children of more acculturated parents. In ITAU, the reverse was true, children of more acculturated parents reported more improvement. This evidence of CIFFTA’s impact on retention, family conflict, and differential effect depending on cultural values and behaviors, has important implications for the field of Latino psychology and family treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Process
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • culturally sensitive treatment
  • externalizing
  • family conflict
  • internalizing
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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