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Behaviour Exchange Systems Training PLUS (BEST PLUS)


BEST PLUS is a brief family therapy program designed to help families cope with adolescent substance abuse and other high-risk and disruptive behaviours. Parents often experience considerable distress when they recognise adolescent substance abuse and mental health problems, which can undermine effective responding. The BEST PLUS program aims to reduce parental stress and depression, increase communication and encourage assertive parenting, including the use of appropriate consequences for adolescent misbehaviour.

The core program is an eight-week, professionally led, group intervention. Parents-only attend sessions from weeks one to four, with siblings and the young people experiencing problems invited to attend from the fifth week. The program uses a brief and structured family therapy program to assist families where parents initially recognise adolescent substance abuse or mental health problems

Evaluation Evidence

Evidence supporting this program is limited to a waiting-list controlled trial and findings from pre-post evaluation studies. Positive outcomes included improvements in mental health, parental satisfaction and assertive parenting behaviours for those involved in the intervention (Toumbourou, Blyth, Bamberg, & Forer, 2001). A consortium of agencies are now working together in the Deakin Family Options project, to complete a randomised trial of the BEST Plus program.

Monitoring Recommendations

  • At the planning stage Boards can request advice on monitoring processes, and expected participation rates and participant changes.
  • Boards should negotiate to receive regular progress reports and request to monitor examples of session delivery.
  • Monitoring information should include: attendance and satisfaction with training; services delivered and the number of participants; participant ratings of service quality; and parent and youth reports of changes in risk and protective factors.
  • Where feasible, evaluate pre-post changes in parent perspectives, child behaviour and targeted risk and protective factors.

Conflict of Interest Note

John Toumbourou wrote this report and led the program development


For more options or to arrange an interview contact:

Deakin Family Options
P: 03 9663 6733 (Melbourne) or 03 5227 8415 (Geelong)

(03) 9663 6733
Program details
Target Audience: 
11 - 18 years
Target Risk Factors: 
  • Low neighbourhood attachment
  • Poor family management
  • Poor family discipline
  • Parental attitudes favourable to problem behaviour
  • Family conflict
  • Rebelliousness
Target Protective Factors: 
  • Family attachment
  • Family opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Family rewards for prosocial involvement
Community Indicators: 
  • High number of parents seeking help to cope with their adolescent's alcohol or drug abuse or mental health problems
  • Problems elevating in the high school years