Archived Story

County offer counseling program for families

Published 3:36pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County has a new family-counseling program.

The program, known as Functional Family Therapy, is funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health. There are 270 FFT programs worldwide but only one other program in the state.

Elvin Gonzalez, family administrator for the Berrien County Trial Court, told county commissioners Thursday that FFT is an empirically grounded, proven family intervention program for at-risk youths ages 10 to 18. Most of the children in the program currently are between 13 and 15, he said.

The program is only two months under way but the therapists are busy with a caseload of between 10 and 12 families at a time. The two therapists, Heidi Hosbein and Josie DeJong, and FFT supervisor Cherie Lintz are all Riverwood employees.

Gonzalez said the program is different from some others in that the therapists meet with the children and parents together.

“We meet with families a couple times a week to get them to really buy into the program,” DeJong said.

The program is for families throughout the county. Currently the therapists are working with homes in Buchanan, Niles, Benton Harbor and Galien.

Gonzalez said the program is “another arrow in the quiver” for the county, in addition to other programs like multisystemic therapy.

The commissioners said they were happy to hear about the new program and will be updated in a few months with statistics on the number of clients and outcomes.

“Dysfunctional families are a huge problem in the United States,” said Commissioner Marletta Seats. “So this is really good.”

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