Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Thorana S. Nelson


Thorana S. Nelson


Linda Skogrand


Troy E. Beckert


Family participation in residential treatment for disturbed adolescents has increased over time. A general sense of this movement is that this is beneficial. However, there are no common descriptions of family involvement in residential treatment in the literature. In order to be able to better understand which components of family involvement are most beneficial, we need to first understand how residential treatment centers (RTCs) define and describe family involvement. This study compiled data from interviews with nine participants, one each from administration, therapy staff, and direct care staff level of three northern Utah RTCs that claimed family involvement in youth treatment at their centers. Results suggest that families are involved in their children's treatment both generally through letters, phone calls, and visits, and specifically through active participation in family therapy. Descriptions of family involvement are provided through thematic presentation with exemplar quotations from participants along with their perspectives on advantages, disadvantages, restrictions, obstacles, and recommendations for enhanced family involvement in adolescent residential treatment. Participants uniformly agreed that family involvement both in general and in therapy is beneficial and that disadvantages are not sufficient to suggest that family involvement, in most cases, should cease. Implications include recommendations for increased resources to facilitate family involvement.