Family Behavior Therapy - Adolescent

Substance Use Prevention or Treatment Does Not Currently Meet Criteria

Family Behavior Therapy - Adolescent (Adolescent FBT) is a therapeutic treatment intended to accomplish goal performance within the family context. It is designed to treat adolescents with substance abuse and dependence, and associated problems such as conflict, depression, child maltreatment, trauma, noncompliance, or risky sexual behavior. In Adolescent FBT, clients and their parents/guardians complete assessment measures that allow therapists to understand the family and create an intervention plan. Following these assessments, clients are offered 12 to 15 sessions over a four to six month period, with varied numbers of sessions per week based on client needs. Adolescent FBT typically includes an orientation to introduce FBT, a contingency management system (i.e., creating contracts with goals that may be contingently rewarded by parents/guardians), and treatment planning to determine appropriate interventions based on identified needs. These interventions could include support for establishing goal/reward systems, controlling environmental stimuli, improving self-control, strengthening family relationships, and facilitating communication. Adolescent FBT sessions are usually delivered in outpatient clinics. Therapists and supervisors must be state-licensed mental health professionals. Adolescent FBT therapists must participate in 3 sets of multi-day training sessions and on-going telephone training.

Adolescent FBT does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies met eligibility criteria for review.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Mar 2020


The program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information was informed by the following sources: The California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, the program or service developer’s website, the program or service manual, and the studies reviewed.


Program/Service Description Updated: Week of August 24, 2020

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

Adolescent FBT targets adolescents who experience substance abuse and/or dependence. These adolescents may have associated problems related to depression, family dysfunction, trauma, child maltreatment, noncompliance, and risky sexual behavior.


Adolescent FBT is typically offered for between four to six months. Clients usually receive 12 to 15 sessions in total, beginning with one or two sessions in their first week. Following the initial session(s), the number of sessions per week varies based on client needs.

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

Adolescent FBT sessions are usually delivered in outpatient clinics.

Education, Certifications and Training

Therapists and supervisors must be state-licensed mental health professionals. Training begins with a three-day workshop and is followed by two three-day booster trainings. Agencies may participate in 60 to 90 minute weekly telephone training meetings for up to 12 months following the initial training session. Supervisors must complete the full Adolescent FBT training and a half-day supervisor training. To become a certified FBT trainer for an agency, supervisors must additionally implement the second and third FBT Trainer Workshops with certified National Trainers as a secondary trainer with 80% or greater protocol adherence.

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

Donohue, B., & Azrin, N. H. (2012). Treating adolescent substance abuse using Family Behavior Therapy: A step-by-step approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Available languages

Materials for Adolescent FBT are available in English and Spanish.

Other supporting materials

Overview of Intervention Components

Intervention Protocols

Training Information

Contact Information for Developers


Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Family Behavior Therapy - Adolescent
Identified in Search 3
Eligible for Review 0
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 0
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers.

Studies Not Eligible for Review

Study 10564

Azrin, N. H., Donohue, B., Teichner, G. A., Crum, T., Howell, J., & DeCato, L. A. (2001). A controlled evaluation and description of individual-cognitive problem solving and family-behavior therapies in dually-diagnosed conduct-disordered and substance-dependent youth. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 11(1), 1-43.

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 10565

Azrin, N. H., McMahon, P., Donohue, B., Besalel, V., Lapinski, K., Kogan, E., & Galloway, E. (1994). Behavior therapy of drug abuse: A controlled outcome study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 32, 857-866.

Azrin, N., Acierno, R., Kogan, E. S., Donohue, B., Besalel, V., & McMahon, P. T. (1996). Follow-up results of Supportive versus Behavioral Therapy for illicit drug use. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 41-46.

This study is ineligible for review because it is not a study of the program or service under review (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.6).

Study 10566

Ahluwalia, H., Anand, T., & Suman, L. N. (2018). Marital and family therapy. Indian Journal Of Psychiatry, 60(Suppl 4), S501-S505. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_19_18

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).