Alternatives for Families: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF–CBT; formally Abuse-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is a comprehensive approach to dealing with the effects of child physical abuse, exposure to related abuse, child or family aggression, and hostile family environments by reducing risk factors for future abuse while also helping the affected individual to recover from the effects of past abuse. AF–CBT teaches parents and children intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to enhance self-control, promote positive family relations, and reduce violent behavior.
Traditionally, AF–CBT is meant for children exhibiting behavioral or emotional dysfunction because of exposure to a hostile or physically aggressive family life. It can also be used for children with behavioral disorders such as Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder even without the presence of violent relationships.
Previous versions of AF–CBT conducted the individual therapy session separate from the family sessions. Known as Individual Child and Parent cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT), the sessions for the parent and child were conducted separately—using parallel protocols. The joint Family Therapy (FT) sessions were introduced and included components for improving family functioning and relationships.
Currently, AF–CBT consists of 3 phases of treatment and 18 session components. Phase 1 concentrates on introduction to and engagement in treatment, psychoeducation, feeling identification, and abuse discussion. Phase 2 teaches new ways of thinking, emotional and behavior management, and how to get along with others. Phase 3 prepares the parents and child for program completion by holding a clarification meeting and teaching problem-solving techniques to use in future situations.