Interventions and programs for juveniles are particularly focused not only on the adolescent, but also their families.¹ The involvement of parents in many of the interventions is based on social-ecological theory, a framework for the prevention of violence.² Some problems that juveniles are faced with include depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and conduct disorder, as well as risk behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts or behaviours, or self-harm.
Effective techniques when working with adolescents and their families include¹:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
- Group work with juveniles
- Parent focused interventions/programs
- Functional Family Therapy
- Brief Strategic Family Therapy
- Multidimensional Family Therapy
- Multi-systemic Therapy
First and foremost, it is extremely important to gauge whether or not the parents should be involved in the youth's treatment or not. Depending on the child's family history, this could have a detrimental affect on their progress.¹ The type of intervention and the mode of delivery is highly dependent on a many factors, like the quality of the relationships within the adolescent's primary support group and the nature of the difficulties they are experiencing.¹
If the family is involved, an approach option is family focused. Family based interventions "hold that the family functioning may cause, maintain or worsen adolescent conduct disorder or risk behaviours such as substance misuse."¹ Family focused interventions that target negative patterns of interaction have been found to be the most effective approaches to adolescent substance abuse, when compared with individual supportive interventions or skills training.
By involving family members, the focus is shifted from the child to the family, which can be particularly therapeutic for youth.
The Social-Ecological Model: A Framework for Prevention
The purpose of this model is to address the broader spectrum of risk and protective factors, but there is an assumption that the parents are the most appropriate and supportive role models, which may not always be the case.¹ The ultimate goal is to stop violence before it begins, and prevention requires understanding the factors that influence violence.² This model considers the complex interaction between the individual, relationship, community, and societal factors.²
There are multiple levels of the model that represent a continuum of activities²:
- Individual: this level identifies biological and personal history that increases the likelihood of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence (age, education, income, substance use, or history of abuse). Specific approaches at this level may include education and life skills training.
- Relationship: the second level examines close relationships that have potential to increase the risk of experiencing violence as a victim or perpetrator. Prevention strategies at this level may include mentoring and peer programs designed to reduce conflict, foster problem solving skills, and promote healthy relationships.
- Community: the third level explores the settings, such as schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, in which social relationships occur and seek to identify the characteristics of these settings that are associated with becoming becoming victims or perpetrators of violence.
- Societal: the fourth level looks at the broad societal factors that help create a slimate in whichviolence is encouraged or inhibited.
Image source: CDC
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Social-Ecological Model: A Framework for Prevention. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/overview/social-ecologicalmodel.html
2. Effective strategies and interventions for adolescents in a child protection context. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/effective_adolescent_strategies.pdf