As the name implies, family focused therapy (FFT) involves bringing the person’s family into therapy to work on enhancing communication between family members, diminishing conflict, and improving problem-solving skills.
FFT is an outpatient treatment that is used in combination with medication. It’s conducted in twenty-one session spread out over nine months, and the therapy is broken up into specific modules that include: an initial assessment, psychoeducation, communication enhancement, and problem solving.
Studies of FFT have found it to be useful in diminishing rates of relapse and improving rates of adherence to medication regimens. Additionally, families that had been through this therapy were found to have enhanced problem-solving skills and were better able to communicate with one another.
Family focused therapy (FFT), along with IPSRT and CBT, are currently being studied as adjunctive treatment (in addition to medications) in a large multi-center study, the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD) funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. FFT is described in full in the book Bipolar Disorder: A Family-Focused Treatment Approach by David J. Miklowitz and Michael J Goldstein.