Essential Components of IFPS Interventions

Let’s focus this time on some key intervention components:

Flexible Scheduling

IFPS therapists have a flexible schedule, serving only two families at a time, which allows them to give clients as much time as needed, when they need it.

Individually Tailored Services

IFPS programs offer flexible service packages, individually tailored to the needs of each family. Clients may need help with parenting skills, communications skills, managing depression or anger, problem solving, overcoming the effects of past trauma,  drug or alcohol use, or learning other life skills. They may request help in meeting such basic needs as food, clothing or shelter. They may work on building a social support network or relating to school or other social service personnel. Therapists are expected to have a wide array of treatment options and approaches available to them.

In IFPS, the therapist is responsible for addressing all the needs of the family. Providing hard services, such as helping clean an apartment or driving a client to the grocery store, is a powerful way to engage clients. Clients are grateful for the help, and are often the most willing to share information when they are involved in doing concrete tasks with their therapist.

Engagement and Motivation

The IFPS therapist takes responsibility for engaging clients and helping them increase their motivation for change. Engagement strategies include Reflective Listening, Motivational Interviewing, showing respect, acting as a guest in the family’s home, including family members in assessment and goal setting, meeting individually with family members as well as the family as a group, and meeting at times and places convenient to the family.

Assessment and Goal Setting

Workers conduct a client-directed assessment across the family’s life domains, including safety assessment and safety planning, domestic violence assessment, suicide assessment, and crisis planning. Behaviorally specific and measurable goals and outcomes are developed and evaluated with the family.

Behavior Change

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the IFPS intervention is the use of cognitive and behavioral research-based practices. Therapists directly employ these practices with family members, and also teach members how to use these strategies. These practices include:

  • Motivational Interviewing,
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT),
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT),
  • Relapse Prevention, and
  • Harm Reduction Strategies,

Teaching families new skills lies at the heart of the intervention, as this empowers family members and allows them to continue to improve their family functioning after IFPS has ended:

  • The most common skills taught include parenting, communication, assertiveness, bargaining and negotiation, anger management, depression management, time management, and household management.
  • Therapists follow specific protocols for teaching skills including presentation of the skill to be learned, modeling, behavioral rehearsal, corrective feedback, coaching, praise, and encouragement, and generalization/maintenance training.
  • Therapists break new skills into small steps to simplify the change process and help family members experience success.
  • Therapists recognize and take advantage of unplanned opportunities (i.e., “teachable moments”) to use or teach behavior change strategies with family members.
  • Therapists provide written materials to reinforce rationales and discussion regarding skills introduced during sessions, and assign homework and encourage frequent practice of new skills so family members have many opportunities to strengthen and integrate behavior changes.

Posted by Peg Marckworth


2 thoughts on “Essential Components of IFPS Interventions

  1. I am the program director of an IFPS program in NJ, serving on a statewide committee to revise our data collection process. Currently, NJ programs submit demographic data (most of which is provided to us by the state CPS with the referral) as well as the following outcome data (for cases accepted for service) at termination: services provided (up to four), face-to-face and indirect service hours, length of stay, financial assistance provided, and percentage of goal attainment (full, substantial, partial, minimal) per family, as well as the discharge status (preserved, reunified, placed, etc.) and the housing type (home or type of placement) for each at-risk child. We also collect and submit post-termination follow-up data for at-risk children at three, six and 12 months, including any new placement outcomes, housing type and referrals/substantiations of child abuse and neglect.

    Here is the link to the state-wide annual report for fiscal year 2012:

    We are curious about the process in other states, so any information you can share about the data that programs collect and submit would be helpful.

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