Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Developmental Psychology



Major Professor

Frick, Paul

Second Advisor

Laird, Robert

Third Advisor

Marsee, Monica

Fourth Advisor

Weems, Carl

Fifth Advisor

Haines, R.Trent


The current study was an investigation of the effectiveness of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) for improving the mental health, behavioral, and legal outcomes for justice-involved adolescents. A primary focus of the investigation was on whether Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits moderated the effects of treatment and whether therapists tailored the intervention to youths with these traits. The sample was 134 youths (15.34 years) who had been arrested and referred to a community mental health center for treatment by trained FFT therapists. Results indicated modest improvement over the course of treatment in the youths' emotional and behavioral functioning. CU traits were found to moderate treatment effects, wherein CU traits were associated with greater emotional and behavioral dysfunction prior to treatment, as well as greater improvement after treatment. However, CU traits also predicted greater self-reported, but not official reports, of delinquency at follow-up. Furthermore, results indicated some evidence for diverging treatment processes for youth with and without CU traits. Specifically, differences in response to changes in negative parenting varied between youth high and low on CU traits for some measures of emotional and behavioral functioning. Overall, FFT was found to be a promising treatment approach, but significant limitations in its effectiveness were also documented.


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