• assessment;
  • child mental health;
  • consumer-driven;
  • family-driven treatment;
  • family therapy;
  • seriously and emotionally disturbed (SED)


Increasingly, policy-makers and consumers alike have been pushing for inclusion of families in the treatment of children with diagnoses of serious and emotionally disturbed (SED). Further, recent trends in service provision highlight the necessity for creation and utilization of evidence-based practices (EBP), as well as the need for consumer- or family-driven treatment. Although family therapy is a popular intervention for this population, existing evidence-based family therapy modalities fail to incorporate family direction in the treatment of children with SED. Moreover, the models studied have involved juvenile offenders, and, to date, little research has been conducted to substantiate their use with the SED population. Family-directed structural therapy (FDST) is an emerging model that unifies evidence-based practice with family-directed care. This model actively involves parents and family members in the change process blending consumer-based principles with a growing empirical base. In FDST, the family is both the fulcrum of power and source of change in the family. A description of this approach and an exemplar are provided to illustrate application of this model with families of children with SED.