Engaging Adolescent Drug Abusers and Their Families in Treatment: A Strategic Structural Systems Approach

Jose Szapocznik, Angel Perez-Vidal, Andrew L. Brickman, Franklin H. Foote, Daniel Santisteban, Olga Hervis, William M. Kurtines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

310 Scopus citations


This article presents evidence for the effectiveness of a strategy for engaging adolescent drug users and their families in therapy. The intervention method is based on strategic, structural, and systems concepts. To overcome resistance, the identified pattern of interactions that interferes with entry into treatment is restructured. Subjects were 108 Hispanic families in which an adolescent was suspected of, or was observed, using drugs. Subjects were randomly assigned to a strategic structural-systems engagement (experimental) condition or to an engagement-as-usual (control) condition. Subjects in the experimental condition were engaged at a rate of 93% compared with subjects in the control condition, who were engaged at a rate of 42%. Seventy-seven percent of subjects in the experimental condition completed treatment compared with 25% of subjects in the control condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-557
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 1988
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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