PESI live seminar update: Due to concerns with COVID-19, all seminars have moved online. Click here for Online Learning Options.

Seminar Detail

2-Day Intensive Training: Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) Certificate Course for Treating Adolescent Oppositional Behaviors, Conduct Disorders and Substance-Abuse

Monday, March 5, 2018 - Tuesday, March 6, 2018

This event is not currently available for purchase.

For more information: Call (800) 844-8260
Course Description:

The challenges and frustrations of treating teenagers with severe behavioral problems can feel overwhelming. Often, they are reluctant participants in therapy, having been mandated to a treatment program by a parent or caregiver, school, or juvenile justice authorities. When they are active drug users, therapists can become intimidated, disorganized, and unable to do their best work. Moreover, the clinical issues presented by adolescents can be difficult to sort out – co-occurring problems are the norm, and systems issues, parent and family functioning, peer, and social environment influences are in play as well. Addressing these connected issues requires an up-to-date knowledge base, a comprehensive, well-organized but flexible therapeutic approach and clinical expertise.

This intensive skills-based two-day certificate training provides concrete strategies that offers solutions to the formidable difficulties of treating adolescent oppositional behaviors, conduct disorders and substance abuse. You will develop core competencies and transform your skills to achieve better therapeutic outcomes, even with your most challenging clients.

Join Dr. Howard Liddle, the developer of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), as he teaches you how to apply the MDFT framework to create practical case formulations, and how to specify case-specific and individualized treatment goals. Through extensive video illustrations, use of case write-up guidelines, checklists, practical treatment protocols, and interactive discussions, you will take away concrete therapeutic strategies to use immediately with your clients. Leave this course with new actionable knowledge and tools you can use in your very next session!

  1. Differentiate the myths vs. clinically-useful, science-based realties of today’s adolescents.
  2. Connect and describe the relationship of the knowledge-base about adolescents and families to the MDFT treatment principles.
  3. Apply key content from the knowledge-base on adolescent development and problem formation and the MDFT treatment principles to create an MDFT case conceptualization.
  4. Utilize the MDFT case conceptualization to formulate weekly case notes that emphasize goal formulation and individual, family, and systemic interventions.
  5. Analyze and describe the clinical logic of the MDFT core sessions for the 3 stages of treatment.
  6. Design individual and family interventions that derive from the MDFT conceptual framework and change theory.
  7. Design individual and family interventions that increase adolescent and parent(s) treatment engagement and retention.
  8. Analyze and differentiate MDFT intervention intentions, components, implementation, and therapeutic processes using an integrative framework for emotion, thinking, behavior and context.
  9. Design multi-component interventions that begin and extend adolescent, parent, and family change processes within and between sessions.
  10. Design multi-component interventions that enhance the youth’s and parents’ interactions with school and juvenile justice professionals.
  11. Analyze why interventions succeed or fail, and learn how to adjust interventions according to in-session and between-session events.
  12. Create a personal blueprint for therapist development using MDFT materials and other available resources.

A Foundation for Adolescent Treatment: Orientation and Knowledge Base
  • Social ecological theory
  • Vulnerability, risk and protection
  • Determinants of substance use, behavioral disorders, depression and anxiety
  • Clinical referred adolescents: Co-occurring problems are the norm
  • A developmental systems framework: Logic and practicality

  • Developmental tasks in life and in therapy MDFT change theory
    • Determine therapeutic targets
    • Design and tailor interventions to individuals and settings
    • Facilitate therapeutic individual and interactional processes
    • Adjust interventions throughout treatment
Framework: A Top-Down View
  • Relationships and development – First, last, always
  • Referral information and dynamics as keys to current circumstances
  • Meet, greet, listen, evoke stories, assess with a checklist
  • Motivate and engage
  • Understanding, meaning, history, and contexts of behaviors
  • Prioritize per need and access
  • Define targets
  • Design interventions from a systemic functional behavioral analysis
  • Interventions
  • Read results
  • Refine and adapt
  • Link to other priority targets and interventions
Treatment Stages: Organization and Milestones of Therapeutic Progress
  • Stage 1: Build alliances and foundation for change
  • Stage 2: Facilitate individual and family change
  • Stage 3: Solidify change and exit
Intervention Domains: Components and Methods Within Each Stage
  • Adolescent-Focused Interventions
  • Psychoeducational aspects of treatment
  • Life story methods and defining oneself
  • Determine what’s important to the teenager and why
  • Personal development as treatment’s “North Star”
  • Foster a sense of agency
  • Experience and interpret day-to-day events
  • Journaling and personal narratives
  • Emotion regulation, reading and reacting to others
  • Burdens of trauma, victimization, and loss

  • Parent-Focused Interventions
  • Assess stress and burden
  • Psychoeducational aspects of treatment
  • Emotion and motivation focused techniques to address avoidance and blaming of youth
  • Foster teamwork and collaboration
  • Single parents, the influence of grandparents and other adults and multiple households
  • Need and role of parenting practices
  • Parent’s mental health, substance use, medical health

  • Family-Interaction Focused Interventions
  • The unique and critical role of family sessions
  • Enactment as technique and change theory
  • How family sessions target and change parent-youth relationships
  • Family sessions step-by-step

  • Community-Focused Interventions
  • Conflictual relationships with school personnel
  • Compliance with juvenile justice requirements
  • Neighborhood influences
  • Community supports and resources

Implementation Keys

From Case Conceptualization to Intervention Development and Implementation
  • Develop a case conceptualization using MDFT outlines, case vignettes and video
  • Plan a session using the case conceptualization
  • Perform intervention analysis by watching clinical videos
  • Plan next session using the specified analysis
Techniques to Overcome Common Treatment Obstacles
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Parental avoidance and blame of the youth
  • Mandated treatment
  • Overwhelmed caregivers
  • Parents with alcohol, drug, or mental health impairments
  • Treatment transitions (to outpatient or residential treatment)
Special Topics
  • Guidelines for in-home sessions and park-bench therapy
  • Evoke content that matters
  • Focus on and use distress, suffering, crises, anger, resentment, history, remorse and legal issues
  • Drug test results in therapy
  • Link mental health and substance abuse treatment to overall adolescent health
  • Available instruments on parenting, substance use, problem behaviors, family functioning
Therapist Development
  • Create a realistic blueprint
  • The interdependence of personal and professional functioning
  • Prompt supervisor effectiveness
  • Self-supervision: Journaling to build complexity and repertoire
  • Signs of and tips to overcome burnout
  • Communities of clinician development
  • Access information on adolescents, parenting, families and treatment guidelines


Howard Liddle, EdD, ABPP, is an internationally known expert in the family therapy of adolescent substance abuse and delinquency and his published clinical DVDs and writings are used in therapist training programs around the world. He is the developer of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an evidence-based adolescent treatment that is practiced at clinics around the United States and eight European countries. Dr. Liddle is professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. A board-certified psychologist, he is a Diplomate in Family Psychology in the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Founding editor of the Journal of Family Psychology in 1985, Dr. Liddle has over 225 publications. His three-decade therapy research program focuses on the development, testing, implementation and dissemination of family-based treatment for adolescent substance abuse and delinquency. This work has been recognized with awards from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Family Therapy Association, the Hazelden Foundation, and the American Psychological Association. Dr. Liddle is an inspirational clinical teacher and has trained family therapists in how to treat adolescents for over 40 years.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Dr. Howard Liddle is Chairman of the Board of MDFT International, a 5013c not for profit entity that conducts training in and certifies clinicians in MDFT, Multidimensional Family Therapy. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Howard Liddle is a Diplomate in Family Psychology in the American Board of Professional psychology (ABPP).
Credits listed below are for full attendance at the live event only. After attendance has been verified, pre-registered attendees will receive an email from PESI Customer Service with the subject line, “Evaluation and Certificate” within one week. This email will contain a link to complete the seminar evaluation and allow attendees to print, email or download a certificate of completion if in full attendance. For those in partial attendance (arrived late or left early), a letter of attendance is available through that link and an adjusted certificate of completion reflecting partial credit will be issued within 30 days (if your board allows). Please see “live seminar schedule” for full attendance start and end times. NOTE: Boards do not allow credit for breaks or lunch.

If your profession is not listed, please contact your licensing board to determine your continuing education requirements and check for reciprocal approval. For other credit inquiries not specified below, or questions on home study credit availability, please contact or 800-844-8260 before the event.

Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.

The planning committee and staff who controlled the content of this activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. For speaker disclosures, please see speaker bios.

PESI, Inc. offers continuing education programs and products under the brand names PESI, PESI Healthcare, PESI Rehab and Psychotherapy Networker.

Addiction Counselors
This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 12.5 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

This intermediate activity consists of 12.5 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Counselors: CE credit is available. This program has been approved for 12.5 Category I MaMHCA/MMCEP hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 262 CMR. Expires: 1/24/2019. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance.

Marriage & Family Therapists
This activity consists of 760 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity has been certified by NEAFAST on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for LMFT professional continuing education. Full attendance at this activity qualifies for 12.5 contact hours. Certification #: PC-033811.

Social Workers
PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 - January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 12.5 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Other Professions
This activity qualifies for 760 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

Credit Card Required for online registration | Contact us to redeem Gift Certificates