Innovative partnership: Government, NGO, and FFT-LLC. Breaking intergenerational offending cycles through Hybrid Functional Family Therapy

Ms Phyllis Meier1, Mr Michael Williams2

1Oranga Tamariki, Wellington, New Zealand, 2Youth Horizons Trust| Kia Pūawai, Auckland, New Zealand

Three government agencies, Oranga Tamariki, Corrections and Police have formed strategic partnerships with Youth Horizons and the Functional Family Therapy model developers (FFT-LLC) to design, pilot and evaluate a new version of Functional Family Therapy (FFT), with an aim to break the intergenerational cycle of justice involvement for tamariki (youth) and to improve the wellbeing of whānau (family).

The Hybrid Functional Family Therapy (HFFT) service combines three types of FFT models:

  • FFT Standard – targets adolescents age 11-17 with moderate to severe conduct problems and offending.
  • FFT-CW (Child-Welfare) – targets children age 0-17 with emphasis on childhood development and addressing child protection concerns
  • FFT-CIA (Coming Into Adulthood) – targets emerging adults aged 17-24 with developmental needs associated with transitioning to adulthood

HFFT will weave in a FFT specific Māori cultural framework (Whaitake Whakaoranga Whānau), developed by Te Ao Māori knowledge holders at Youth Horizons.

This multi-agency approach, combination of models, and the cultural framework enables therapists to intervene effectively with families’ at multiple entry points within the New Zealand justice system. The approach is whānau centred and allows clinicians to train and develop skills to deliver services across a family unit, with careful regard to the developmental stages of the family members.

The intent is to intervene with adults and youth who are experiencing the justice system to interrupt the pattern of intergenerational offending behaviours.

This presentation will focus on the collaborative approach to service design, the anticipated outcomes behind hybrid FFT and our approach to evaluation.


Phyllis Meier: Phyllis has a long history working in the health care sector (25+ years), thought nursing, service improvement, project management, and service design. She has recently moved into service design within the social sector, and is currently looking at youth justice programmes and services that address the needs of youth moving thought the justice system in New Zealand.

Michael Williams: Prior to joining Youth Horizons | Kia Puāwai in 2008, Michael worked as a Clinical Psychologist for an Auckland District Health Board psychotherapy service. Starting as Youth Horizons’ Clinical Director he played a key role in the implementation and evaluation of evidenced-based interventions such as Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO). In 2013 Michael stepped into a national operations role, followed in 2018 by his appointment to his current role, the Director of Business Development and Implementation. In this capacity he works on the roll-out of new services within an implementation science framework