Discussing the FOCUS Programme

Research Paper Title

The FOCUS Family Resilience Programme: An Innovative Family Intervention for Trauma and Loss.


This article describes the core principles and components of the FOCUS Program, a brief intervention for families contending with single or multiple trauma or loss events.

It has been administered nationally to thousands of military family members since 2008 and has been implemented in a wide range of civilian community, medical, clinical, and school settings.

Developed by a team from the UCLA and Harvard Medical Schools, the FOCUS Program provides a structured approach for joining with traditional and nontraditional families, crafting shared goals, and then working with parents, children, and the entire family to build communication, make meaning out of traumatic experiences, and practice specific skills that support family resilience.

Through a narrative sharing process, each family member tells his or her story and constructs a timeline that graphically captures the experience and provides a platform for family discussions on points of convergence and divergence.

This narrative sharing process is first done with the parents and then the children and then the family as a whole.

The aim is to build perspective-taking skills and mutual understanding, to reduce distortions and misattributions, and to bridge estrangement between family members.

Previous studies have confirmed that families participating in this brief programme report reductions in distress and symptomatic behaviours for both parents and children and increases in child pro-social behaviours and family resilient processes.


Saltzman, W.R. (2016) The FOCUS Family Resilience Program: An Innovative Family Intervention for Trauma and Loss. Family Process. 2016 Oct 13. doi: 10.1111/famp.12250. [Epub ahead of print].


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