Multisystemic Therapy

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Program Goals/Target Population

The overriding goal of Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is to keep adolescents who have exhibited serious clinical problems (e.g., drug use, violence, severe criminal behavior) at home, in school, and out of trouble. Through intense involvement and contact with the family, MST aims to uncover and assess the functional origins of adolescent behavioral problems. It works to alter the youth’s ecology in a manner that promotes prosocial conduct while decreasing problem and delinquent behavior.

MST targets youths between the ages of 12 and 17 who present with serious antisocial and problem behavior and with serious criminal offenses. The MST intervention is used on these adolescents in the beginning of their criminal career by treating them within the environment that forms the basis of their problem behavior instead of in custody, removed from their natural ecology.

Program Components

MST typically uses a home-based model of service delivery to reduce barriers that keep families from accessing services. Therapists have small caseloads of four to six families; work as a team; are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and provide services at times convenient to the family. The average treatment occurs over approximately 4 months, although there is no definite length of service, with multiple therapist–family contacts occurring each week. MST therapists concentrate on empowering parents and improving their effectiveness by identifying strengths and developing natural support systems (e.g., extended family, neighbors, friends, church members) and removing barriers (e.g., parental substance abuse, high stress, poor relationships between partners). In the family–therapist collaboration, the family takes the lead in setting treatment goals and the therapist helps them to accomplish their goals.

Key Personnel

Therapists with special MST training deal with a relatively small number of cases, due to the intensive nature of the intervention. Sessions at the home of the adolescent may occur every day or once a week, depending on the needs of the family and the stage in the program.

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11616 Southfork Ave, Suite 402 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816