Guidance from MDFT Intl

Important information from MDFT International in the US.

(The following is some guidance from the MDFT International team)



Here are some tools to discuss with families:

  1. Help youth and parents utilize the simple STOP TECHNIQUE. This is easy to understand and use. Sometimes it can be useful for the teen to have a card to put in his pocket or wallet or to put on his smart phone.

S: Stop. Don’t act immediately

T: Take a deep breath

O: Observe. What am I thinking right now?

P: Pull back. Cool Down. See the bigger picture. Use your mantra.

  1. Recommend the use of meditation and other helpful calming apps. Many are free, at least for the first month (e.g., “Calm,” yoga apps for use at home).
  2. Help youth and parents agree on a family safety plan if things start to get heated. We often do this in MDFT with families who have a hard time managing their emotions.

Therapists might have a conversation with the family about how nobody benefits or feels good when things get out of control, and then offer suggestions for a family safety plan.

Script Suggestions:


“I think I can say that none of you like it when it gets out of control. Right?


I’d like to share with you what we call a ‘family safety plan’ that is simple and has worked for many families.


First, everybody has to agree, which I already know you do, that they don’t want things to get out of control or violent. I know you don’t want it to get to the point of having to call the police or  911 and involve the authorities.


Here is how it works: You all agree that when things are starting to go this way, you will each try to recognize it. When you recognize that things are getting too heated, you may use a special cue or word that everybody has agreed is the family safety word. Hearing this word is a clue to STOP and calm down and go to your designated space. So for example, a family might decide to say, “time out,” or “family safety plan,” or “family,” or “love,” or anything else you like. When you hear this word that is the time for everybody to STOP. It’s also important that here today you all think of a place, a separate place, where each of you can go to cool off. For example, everybody might go to their bedrooms, or somebody might go to their bedroom, another to the living room, etc. What is important is that everybody has a separate place to go and calm down. The other important part of this plan is that you all agree to not talk about the issue until you have all cooled down and can talk about in a calm and healthy way, or perhaps you wait until I (your therapist) can help you have a healthy conversation. In order for this to work, you all have to agree to do the following:


  1. Agree that you don’t want things to get out of control
  2. Agree on a safety word and that this word will trigger you all to STOP, go to your separate places, cool down, and not discuss the topic until everybody is cooled down. For some families this might take hours and for others it could days, perhaps even weeks.
  3. Agree to follow the family safety plan.