Medical Family Therapy in Community Health Centers

  • Jennifer Hodgson
  • Angela Lamson
  • Rola Aamar
  • Francisco Limon
Part of the Focused Issues in Family Therapy book series (FIFT)


Community health centers (CHCs) provide affordable, accessible care to patients in urban and rural areas across the nation. Health centers must be located in underserved locales, governed by a community-majority board, provide a core set of primary care services, and offer a sliding fee scale to patients under 200% of the federal poverty level (National Associations of Community Health Centers, 2017a). Based on most recent figures, health centers serve more than 25 million patients (1 out of every 15 Americans), 71% of whom are at the 100% federal poverty level and below and 83% are uninsured or publicly insured (NACHC, 2017a). Health centers employ over 8400 mental health and substance abuse staff and provide access to these services in the most underserved communities in the nation. In 2015, over 8.3 million clinic visits were provided for mental health or substance abuse issues; this represents a 56% growth in behavioral health visits since 2010 (NACHC, 2017b).


Glossary of Important Terms for Care in Community Health Centers

Collaborative care

The process of working with healthcare providers across disciplines to discuss patient’s diagnoses, treatment options, and interventions and to develop a treatment plan.

Cost report

Often used for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, a report that includes information about the provider system (e.g., an FQHC), including utilization of services, charges to patients, and cost of services.


A face-to-face visit between a patient and healthcare provider that must include a treatment intervention and proper documentation.

Encounter rate

A facility-specific rate that is paid to an FQHC to cover the cost of services for each valid encounter.

Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)

A comprehensive healthcare center designed to service underserved populations, typically in areas with limited health resources. FQHCs must offer a sliding fee option to patients without insurance and are eligible for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.

Health behaviors

Practices, habits, and knowledge that can improve a patient’s health.

Health disparities

The differences in health status that socially disadvantaged populations experience. Factors that contribute to health disparities include access to healthcare, socioeconomic status, geographic location, race/ethnicity, and gender.

Population health

Factors contributing to the health of (and the health outcomes of) a group of individuals who share a common illness, environment, or social identity.


A Hispanic/Latino community member who provides basic health education to the population as a trained lay person (not as a professional healthcare worker).

Rural health clinics

Public, profit, or nonprofit clinics located in rural, underserved areas to provide primary care services to rural populations.

Social determinants of health

The social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to an individual’s health status, including marital status, education, socioeconomic status, and immigration (see PRAPARE in Resources for more details).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Hodgson
    • 1
  • Angela Lamson
    • 1
  • Rola Aamar
    • 1
  • Francisco Limon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Green County Health CareSnow HillUSA

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