Where it is appropriate, family involvement has been found to enhance youth engagement in AOD treatment, primary health care and prevention programs (Toumbourou et al, 2007).
Advocates of family involvement acknowledge that it may be difficult or unhelpful if family members are themselves involved in substance use or criminal activities. Also some families may be unavailable or unwilling to participate (Schuetz& Berry, 2009).
Specially designed, culturally sensitive strategies can be effective in achieving high rates of family engagement (Liddle, 2004). There are also times when families request assistance and the young person they care for resists participation. At times and where a service or practitioner has the capacity, working with these families without the involvement of a young person can be very beneficial. Particularly where interventions teach parents skills that enhance their own psychosocial and interpersonal functioning (Copello et al., 2005).
The following therapeutic practice elements are useful to guide both the orientation of families and building appropriate collaborative relationships with them.
F2. Information provision
This element enables practitioners to inform family members of the nature of the services being offered and how they can be involved in a way that best helps the young person they care for. Families might also be linked to services that are specifically designed to meet their needs. Guidance is also provided for practitioners on the type of information families and caregivers require as treatment unfolds.
F3. Collaborating with families and caregivers
Family members and caregivers can be encouraged to participate in an active collaboration with a service to assist the young people that they care for to resolve problems and achieve goals. This element provides practical guidance on how families and caregivers can be engaged in a collaborative relationship.
D3. Building caregiver rapport and motivation
This element is drawn from the adolescent community reinforcement approach (ACRA) and includes family/caregiver focused strategies for education, rapport building, keeping the interaction positive and assessing the need for further support or therapy. ACRA specifies a highly structured method of engaging and involving caregivers, setting out clear and coherent expectations.