Understanding SFH methodology

Submitted by Abdul Seraaj

What is the Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. (SFH) methodology?


It is grounded in the concept of holistic and systematic thinking. The holistic approach to treating clients and families are based on a strength-based, needs-driven approach. The holistic approach involves the individual’s physical, biochemical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual health. This approach is best seen and practiced by our SFH PFTs [foster parents].

I have often witnessed and observed the SFH PFTs implementing the holistic approach to treating our (foster) children and (their biological) families better than anyone. Some of our Seraaj PFTs engage in the practice of holistic treatment innately and from a common sense standpoint. Our PFTs often express interest in their foster children’s physical, mental, behavioral and spiritual healing. They seem to understand that in order for a child to heal, grow and improve, and achieve real progress one must have an entire system change. Some of the PFTs have “motherly wit”, and seem to understand that you have to treat the whole child in order to achieve real progress. We have PFTs who understand the therapeutic value of foster children maintaining healthy, appropriate contact with their biological family members. These same PFTs have taken it upon themselves to facilitate supervised visitations between the child and their biological family members. This is considered therapy from a holistic approach to treatment.

Why should a child be put on medications for depression or acting out when they only want to visit with their family members?

Why should they receive traditional counseling, when they just want to return home and be with family?

If we would listen more than we talk, the children would tell us how to resolve the issues that are causing them to act out or disrupt placements. Strengthening and maintaining family bonds and connections between children and their families must be understood from a clinical standpoint. Therefore, we must learn to appreciate the contributions of our PFTs as it pertains to our ability to achieve positive outcomes with children and families.

SFH methodology is not based on Eurocentric philosophy, or traditional psychotherapy or counseling. SFH methodology is based on what is right with an individual or family rather than what is wrong.

SFH believes that all families and individuals have strengths, and our treatment approach should be based on their identified strengths. This is the reason SFH believes in conducting comprehensive psychosocial assessment on our clients and families. This holistic approach involves allowing the clients and families to teach you how best to work with them in order to reach positive outcomes. This concept is based on the belief that most families and individuals know how to resolve their own problems, if given the right tools and assistance. This also involves unconventional and “outside-of-the-box thinking” as it relates to working with clients and families.

SHF methodology involves making use of existing community resources as a therapeutic tool in order to achieve positive client and family outcomes. For example, we teach clients and families how to have a healthy approach to family-oriented time without having to spend a large amount of money by using free community services and activities. It also involves linking clients and families with community resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, women shelters, halfway treatment houses, inpatient substance abuse treatment centers, free medical clinics, clothes closets, housing authorities, childcare centers, and public transportation. This empowers clients and families to help themselves. It involves mentoring, job coaching, behavioral modeling, demonstrative parenting, tutoring, listening, teaching basic living skills, family support, wrap around services, crisis intervention, and individual and family counseling. However, these are only a few of the existing community resources that a SFH staff member must learn to use while working with clients and families using the Seraaj methodology. Our staff persons must be very patient, willing to help, knowledgeable and accessible. Therefore, the clients’ and families’ homes and communities become the SFH office when practicing the SFH methodology.

The holistic and the systematic approach deals with viewing the child’s entire family as the identified client and focuses on treating the entire family. This approach deals with reframing and redefining therapy.

What is therapy, as it relates to treating families?

Therapy is helping a single mother with four kids fix a water faucet in order to reduce her water bill per month. Therapy also consists of helping this same single mother take the savings from a reduced water bill and get license plates for her car so that she may have transportation to find stable employment.

Therapy is assisting poor families find employment and housing in order to get their kids out of foster care.

Therapy is teaching parents how to appropriately discipline their kids and prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement or criminal child abuse charges.

Therapy is teaching families how to budget and implement money saving techniques to prevent them from being oppressed by debt.

If we are actively practicing the SFH methodology, then we must constantly ask ourselves what is therapy. Furthermore, we must constantly use all of our senses and approach community resources as if we are practicing the SFH methodology in treating clients and families. The SFH methodology has principles and the principles are grounded in a foundation of Continuous Quality Improvement and meritocracy.