Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a comprehensive Family Therapy program designed to help teens become more successful in their homes, schools, jobs, friendships, and communities. We do this by meeting with the teen and their family multiple times per week in their home, at school if permitted, or in their community. We will meet with youth and their family at times convenient for them.
MST is effective in helping teens and their families address serious problems in their lives including:
  • Truancy
  • Weapons possession
  • Tobacco / drugs / alcohol on school   property
  • Defiance of school authority
  • Poor peer group
  • Fighting
  • Vandalism
  • At risk of school suspension or expulsion

Treatment with a Family Focus

MST focuses on families as a significant part of the solution. Family members are full collaborators in treatment planning and delivery and are key to long-term change.

Who Can Make Referrals?

  • School Principals
  • School Assistant Principals
  • School Guidance Counselors
  • Parents/Guardians
  • Juvenile Probation Officers
  • Office of Youth & Family Services (OYFS)

Admission Criteria and Referral Behaviors

  • Youth is between ages 12-17
  • Youth resides with a caregiver, not necessarily biological parent
  • Youth’s caregiver is willing to participate in treatment
  • Youth is at risk of out-of-home / school placement or youth is returning from out-of-home / school placement
  • Youth has a history of failed treatment
  • Youth may have a history of drug use / abuse
  • Youth may be involved in delinquent behavior
  • Youth may display oppositional or impulsive behaviors
  • Youth may be non-compliant

Exclusionary Criteria

  • Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia
  • Youth with diagnosis of autism spectrum, level 2 or higher
  • Actively homicidal or suicidal
  • Youth lives independently

Program Characteristics

MST delivers intensive home-based services via therapists certified in MST and supported through weekly supervision and telephone consultation with an MST expert. Therapists carry a small (but demanding) caseload, and length of treatment averages 4 to 6 months.

Within MST, Therapists:

  • Conduct comprehensive functional assessments of youth in the context of their families, peer group, school and neighborhood
  • Seek to understand the “fit” between the youth’s problems and the factors which contribute to them
  • Include school input for goals and solutions
  • Help families better partner with schools / teachers / guidance staff
  • Empower parents to address the needs of the youth (i.e. structure, support) more effectively
  • Focus on helping parents build supportive social networks in their community
  • Emphasize long-term change that families can maintain after their involvement in MST ends

Improvements at School

  • Regular attendance
  • Better home / school communication
  • Improved school behavior
  • Involved in school extra-curricular activities

What Can I Expect from My MST Therapist?

  • Family therapy
  • Marital therapy
  • Individual therapy with parents/caregivers
  • Chemical dependency assessment and treatment with the ecology
  • Evaluation of the youth’s peer network and arranging alternative activities
  • Consultation with schools
  • Coordinating activities with school system, court and / or social service agencies
  • Arranging a psychiatric consultation

MST is a Home-Based Model

  • Therapists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Services are provided in the home, school, neighborhood and community
  • Therapist caseloads are small (4-6 families per therapist)
  • Treatment is intensive, often including multiple contacts with family & other participants every week
  • Therapists work in teams & provide coverage for each other’s caseloads