Healthy Minds Fairfax

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-F
703-324-7938 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway - Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035
Janet Bessmer, CSA Program Manager
Peter Steinberg, Healthy Minds Fairfax Program Manager

Evidence-Based Treatments and Interventions

The Family First Prevention Services Act aims to keep children safe, strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care whenever it is safe to do so. 

Family First's strategic priority is to advance the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based, trauma informed services that appropriately and effectively improve child safety, ensure permanency, and promote child and family well-being. While many of the services available in our community have positive outcomes, evidence-based programs are distinctly different in that they are based on research studies.

Evidence-based programs have demonstrated positive outcomes, and they provide a framework and structure for service providers in the delivery of their service. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has developed a federal clearinghouse that ranks evidence-based programs. Additional information about the clearinghouse and identified programs can be found on the clearinghouse website.

The Virginia Department of Social Services is working to implement Family First in Virginia and is investing in the community based provider network to implement and grow three programs that have been rated as well-supported in the Prevention Services Clearinghouse.

As these programs come on board in our community, we will be adding program descriptions, resources, referral forms and more to this page to help case managers and members in the community learn more about each program and understand which treatment and intervention can best serve the children, youth and families being served.


These Job Aides may be helpful when determining which evidence-based treatment is right for the child/youth and family with whom you are working.

The below presentation was recorded on Friday, August 14th. While the audience that day was social workers from Fairfax County Public Schools, it provides a general overview of the evidence-based treatments available in the county that are referenced on this page.

Slide deck for August 14, 2020 "'New' Evidence-based Treatments for a Case Manager's Toolkit" presentation

Advances in Behavioral Health Assessment and Clinical Treatment: Updates for the Case Manager’s Toolkit

This training enhances knowledge about Evidence-Based Treatments and helps to facilitate referral processes at the CSA. The training covers: 

  • The options for evidence-based assessment (including measurement-based care) and treatment in Fairfax County;
  • Service planning tips for selecting the most appropriate EBP for families; and
  • Ways to help families understand their treatment options.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive treatment for troubled youth delivered in multiple settings. This program aims to promote pro-social behavior and reduce criminal activity, mental health symptomology, out-of-home placements, and illicit substance use in 12- to 17-year-old youth. The MST program addresses the core causes of delinquent and antisocial conduct by identifying key drivers of the behaviors through an assessment of the youth, his or her family, and school and community. The intervention strategies are personalized to address the identified drivers. The program is delivered for an average of three to five months, and services are available 24/7, which enables timely crisis management and allows families to choose which times will work best for them. Master’s level therapists from licensed MST providers take on only a small caseload at any given time so that they can be available to meet their clients’ needs. 

MST Resources

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a short term prevention program for at-risk youth and their families. FFT aims to address risk and protective factors that impact the adaptive development of 11 to 18 year old youth who have been referred for behavioral or emotional problems. The program is organized in multiple phases and focuses on developing a positive relationship between therapist/program and family, increasing motivation for change, identifying specific needs of the family, supporting individual skill-building of youth and family, and generalizing changes to a broader context. Typically, therapists will meet weekly with families face-to-face for 60 to 90 minutes and by phone for up to 30 minutes, over an average of three to six months. Master’s level therapists provide FFT. They work as a part of a FFT-supervised unit and receive ongoing support from their local unit and FFT training organization. 

FFT Resources


Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents (DBT-A) was developed by Drs. Jill Rathus, Alec Miller, and Marsha Linehan. It is a comprehensive treatment approach for adolescents who are suicidal, engage in non-suicidal self-injury, and other high-risk or problem behaviors. DBT-A focuses on understanding and changing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in order to help clients be more effective in their environments and works towards their personal goals. DBT-A works with adolescents and their families to help reduce problem-behaviors by building coping skills (Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness, and Walking the Middle Path). What makes DBT unique is the balance of acceptance and change strategies, and the comprehensive approach to treatment (individual and family sessions, group skills training, phone coaching, therapist consultation team). DBT-A is considered an evidence-based treatment, which means its effectiveness has been demonstrated by scientific research.

DBT-A Resources

In Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), parents are coached by a trained therapist in behavior-management and relationship skills. PCIT is a program for two to seven-year old children and their parents or caregivers that aims to decrease child behavior problems, increase positive parenting behaviors, and improve the quality of the parent-child relationship. During weekly sessions, therapists coach caregivers in skills such as child-centered play, communication, increasing child compliance, and problem-solving. Therapists use “bug-in-the-ear” technology to provide live coaching to parents or caregivers from behind a one-way mirror (there are some modifications in which live same-room coaching is also used). Parents or caregivers progress through treatment as they master specific competencies, thus there is no fixed length of treatment. Most families are able to achieve mastery of the program content in 12 to 20 one-hour sessions. Master’s level therapists who have received specialized training provide PCIT services to children and caregivers. 

PCIT Overview - Presentation to CSA Case Managers on December 9, 2020

PCIT Presentation slide deck

PCIT Resources


Fairfax Virtual Assistant