MDFT Family Recovery (MDFT-FR)

MDFT Family Recovery (known previously as Engaging Moms/Parents Program or EMP/EPP) addresses the complex, multigenerational challenges facing families affected by parental substance use and child welfare system involvement. It is an integrative intervention that focuses on the whole family in a comprehensive way. The approach is based on research suggesting that the best way to improve immediate and long-term outcomes for vulnerable children is to repair and strengthen the whole family. Research indicates that the most effective interventions target the children, their parents, other family members, and family interactions.

MDFT-FR Counselors:

  • Facilitate engagement and retention in substance use and mental health treatment for parents.
  • Provide access to developmental, educational, and medical services for the children.
  • Enhance parent’s involvement in their children’s well-being
  • Promote emotional attachment and bonding between parents and their children.
  • Improve parenting skills including co-parenting and parental teamwork.
  • Reinforce skills and competencies parents learn in substance use or mental health counseling.
  • Repair relationships between the parent(s) and other family members.
  • Increase involvement of other positive family members in the children’s lives.
  • Improve parent and family communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.
  • Do whatever it takes to strengthen the family to care for the children.

Three studies have examined MDFT-FR outcomes, with strong results. Two ongoing randomized clinical trials funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services are currently testing the effectiveness of MDFT-FR in Miami-Dade County and Broward Counties in Florida.



  1. Dakof, G. A., Quille, T. J., Tejeda, M. J., Alberga, L. R., Bandstra, Szapocznik, J. (2003). Enrolling and retaining mothers of substance exposed infants in drug abuse treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(4), 764-772.
  2. Dakof, G. A., Cohen, J. B., & Duarte, E. (2009). Increasing family reunification for substance-abusing mothers and their children: Comparing two drug court interventions in Miami. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 60(4), 11-23.
  3. Dakof, G. A., Cohen, J. B., Henderson, C. E., Duarte, E., Boustani, M., Blackburn, A.,… Hawes, S. (2010). A randomized pilot study of the Engaging Moms Program for family drug court. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 38, 263-274.