Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) is a brief intervention used to treat adolescent drug use that occurs with other problem behaviors. These co-occurring problem behaviors include conduct problems at home and at school, oppositional behavior, delinquency, associating with antisocial peers, aggressive and violent behavior, and risky sexual behavior (Jessor and Jessor 1977; Newcomb and Bentler 1989; Perrino et al. 2000).
BSFT is based on three basic principles. The first is that BSFT is a family systems approach. Family systems means that family members are interdependent: What affects one family member affects other family members. According to family systems theory, the drug-using adolescent is a family member who displays symptoms, including drug use and related co-occurring problem behaviors. These symptoms are indicative, at least in part, of what else is going on in the family system (Szapocznik and Kurtines 1989). Just as important, research shows that families are the strongest and most enduring force in the development of children and adolescents (Szapocznik and Coatsworth 1999). For this reason, family-based interventions have been studied as treatments for drug-abusing adolescents and have been found to be efficacious in treating both the drug abuse and related co-occurring problem behaviors (for reviews, see Liddle and Dakof 1995; Robbins et al. 1998; Ozechowski and Liddle 2000).