UW-Madison - Department of Counseling Psychology - People - Faculty Research Teams - Fortalezas Familiares

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Fortalezas Familiares

Project Description

Dr. Carmen Valdez culturally adapted the Keeping Families Strong intervention into Fortalezas Familiares for Latino families; read more about the KFS intervention here. The English translation for Fortalezas Familiares is family strengths, which is what the intervention plans to increase throughout the sessions. This adaptation responds to the documented increasing rates of depression among Latinos, and to the higher proportion of children living in the home than non-Latinos.

Fortalezas Familiares is a 12 session, systemic intervention for Latino families with a mother suffering from depression. The parent group includes the mother with depression and any other caregivers in the family while the youth group includes children ages nine through seventeen. Paralleling one another, both groups are developing awareness, acceptance, coping skills and interpersonal competence, which will culminate in the family meeting at the end of the intervention. The goal of the Fortalezas Familiares is to educate the participants about how depression may be contributing to the problems in their families and provides and understanding of how families can work together to change and improve their well-being. Unique to Fortalezas Familiares, there will be a third group for the children eight-years-old and younger. Based on developmental maturity, they will be learning about basic interpersonal and emotional skills.

In addition to developing a program that is effective and culturally acceptable to families, Fortalezas Familiares aims to increase cultural sensitivity among health and mental health providers. Thus, Dr. Valdez has established community partnerships and brought together an enthusiastic research team of graduate students and consultants from a variety of institutions, including the UW-Madison, Washington University in St. Louis, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard Medical Center. 

Cultural beliefs about coping, parenting, and family roles and support influence the response of family members when a parent is depressed. In Dr. Valdez’ work with under-served populations, such as Latino immigrants and their families, stressors associated with depression include acculturative stress, isolation, and social marginalization. Thus, Fortalezas Familiares takes into account the acculturative stressors, cultural barriers, and resources of Latino families are more likely to be acceptable and effective.


Valdez, C. R., Padilla, B., Moore, S. & Magaña, S. (in press). Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of the Fortalezas Familiares intervention for Latino families facing maternal depression. Family Process.

Valdez, C. R., Abegglen, J., & Hauser, C. (in press). Fortalezas Familiares Program: Building sociocultural and family strengths in Latina women with depression and their families. Family Process.

Valdez, C. R
.,Dvorscek, M., Budge, S., & Esmond, S. (2011). Provider perspectives about Latino patients: Determinants of care and implications for treatment. The Counseling Psychologist, 39, 497-526.

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