CFC is unique in the format and kind of mental health services it provides to children and families. EcoFIT, developed by CFC researchers, is an ecological approach to family intervention and treatment that acknowledges the influences of a child’s immediate environment: peers, siblings, caregivers, teachers, neighborhood. EcoFIT is a fluid principle and not a single theoretical perspective; it defines and guides our efforts to improve our intervention services.
EcoFIT has six unique features:
The intervention services are based on research into child and adolescent mental health problems and early drug use.
- They examine what causes these problems.
- They determine which interventions work to reduce or treat these problems.
The intervention services are family centered.
- They address and support parents of children and adolescents in the change process.
- They focus on supporting parents’ leadership role in their children’s lives.
The intervention services are assessment driven.
- Decisions about how to tailor interventions to individual and family needs are based on careful assessments of the child and family at home.
- Decisions are also based on the child in the context of school.
The intervention services target the social interactions of children with their caregivers, teachers, and peers to work toward long-lasting change.
- Social interaction patterns with families or peers are automatic.
- Social interaction patterns with families or peers are also powerful for maintaining problem behavior and emotional distress.
- The patterns can be changed with support from our intervention services.
Strengthening client motivation to change is a core component.
- We help families overcome discouragement that can arise during the change process.
- Discouragement about change can interfere with the process of improving family dynamics or children’s behavior and adjustment.
The intervention services are based on a health maintenance model.
- A health maintenance model acknowledges individual vulnerabilities and builds on existing strengths.
- Periodic intervention services support children and families through multiple developmental transitions.
What other features are unique to an ecological approach to intervention?
- An ecological approach is a work in progress, not a final solution.
- EcoFIT provides a set of tools for the systematic design and execution of mental health services for children and families.
- EcoFIT provides a road map for innovation of future interventions that are even more effective and efficient.
- The emphasis on model building is the key to progress in applying science to improve child and adolescent mental health.
- Clinicians, families, basic scientists, intervention scientists, and policymakers are partners in setting the research agenda and targeting areas for future study that will increase intervention effectiveness.
- EcoFIT is not a school of therapy, but a systematic approach to innovation and change.