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Partners for Family Empowerment (PFE) Program | UPMC - Pittsburgh, PA

Partners for Family Empowerment (PFE) Program

PFE, part of UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, provides outpatient mental health treatment to children and teens with problematic sexual behaviors and their families. The Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) must refer your case to PFE.

We focus on those who have been displaying sexually improper behaviors that are intrusive, hurtful, or age-inappropriate.

The PFE program provides complete assessments and treatments, with the goals to:

  • Stop or reduce the sexual behavior problems.
  • Enhance parent-child communication.
  • Improve child behavior via increased parental involvement, oversight, and behavior management skills.
  • Prevent sexual reoffending by youth with these problems.

Our program uses the evidence-based treatments of:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Alternative for families cognitive behavioral therapy (AF-CBT).
  • Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT).

About PFE: Who We Work With and What We Do

The PFE program team works with the:

  • Allegheny County CYF, who must refer your case to us.
  • Allegheny County Family and Juvenile Courts.
  • Child Advocacy Center (CAC).
  • Victim's advocates, therapists, and other mental health providers.

PFE treats children and youths who:

  • Have engaged in sexual misconduct with family members (intrafamilial victims).
  • Have engaged in sexual misconduct with non-relatives (extrafamilial victims).
  • Display self-focused and exhibitionistic sexual behaviors.

Family Assessment and Diagnosis

The family takes part in a thorough clinical and diagnostic assessment both before and after treatment.

The program's treatment clinician and clinical associate conducts the assessments that include:

  • Interviews with the child.
  • Interviews with the parent(s) or caregivers.
  • Completion of detailed questionnaires.

We also assess symptoms consistent with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), including:

  • Thoughts of suicide or homicide.
  • Abuse history.
  • Behavior problems.
  • Parental discipline, monitoring, and supervision.
  • Peer relationships.
  • Improper sexual behaviors.
  • School progress.
  • Treatment motivation and compliance.

We use all assessment data to:

  • Design tailored treatment plans that we review every 3 months with the family.
  • Track treatment progress and needs.
  • Measure the response to treatments and services of each child and their families.

While your child receives treatment from PFE, a program psychiatrist can meet with them to:

  • Help with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Assess medication needs.
  • Manage current meds.
  • Discuss any other concerns.

How PFE Treats Children and Family Members

PFE takes a family-centered approach to help those affected by child sex abuse that involved a member of the family or household.

Along with our partner agencies, we provide services to support the:

  • Child who engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviors.
  • Victims of sex abuse and their therapists.
  • Caregivers and other family members.

Children and their families feel less trauma when agencies work together and use community resources more efficiently.

A 3-step treatment process

If the child's sexual abuse was against a family member, we offer a 3-step treatment process to help restore the family unit.

This involves family:

  1. Clarification: the process designed for family members to talk about the harm caused and the impact on each person.
  2. Reconnection: the process of deciding under what conditions contact should occur between the victim and child.
  3. Reunification: the formal process where all experts involved with helping the family and family members work out contact details. They work together to the type of contact that might be possible between the victim and the child.

Family reunification is a slow process that you can't rush for the sake of each family member involved. We carefully assess the safety of all family members to decide if it's feasible.

It should only be an option if:

  • The victim, the victim's therapist, and the victim's family are willing to take part in the process.
  • The child is in treatment with PFE and is accepting responsibility for his or her actions.

Please note: Even if a family takes part in the 3-step treatment process, we can't promise reunification.

Children and families referred to the PFE program by the CYF will receive:

  • Evidence-based treatment to promote cognitive behavioral skills and strengths. We also treat primary disorders that have become more common over the past decade. These include ADHD, MDD, ODD/CD, and anxiety.
  • Trauma-informed treatment to address past trauma and current coping methods.
  • Active caregiver involvement and support to help them apply effective strategies to manage the youth's behavior.

Contact Partners for Family Empowerment Program

To learn more about PFE, contact Eunice Torres at torreb@upmc.edu.

Bellefield Towers, 5th Floor
100 N Bellefield Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213