Multisystemic Therapy (MST) offers sustainable solutions to families struggling to manage young people with serious behavioural problems. Too often, traditional mental health approaches for treating serious adolescent antisocial behaviour and substance use have failed to substantiate their effectiveness to reduce or correct undesirable behaviours. The MST model, developed in response to the lack of scientifically validated, cost-effective treatment options, has proven effective in reducing antisocial behaviour among diverse populations of antisocial youth.
What is MST?
MST is an intensive family and community based treatment that addresses the multiple determinants of serious antisocial behaviour in young offenders. The MST approach views individuals as being nested within a complex network of interconnected systems that encompass individual, family, and extrafamilial (peer, school, neighbourhood) factors. Intervention may be necessary in any one or a combination of these systems. In MST this “ecology” of interconnected systems is viewed as the “client”. MST strives to promote behaviour change in the youth’s natural environment, using existing strengths within each system (e.g., family, peers, school, neighbourhood, informal support network) to facilitate change.
The ultimate goal of MST is to enable parents with the skills and resources needed to independently address the difficulties that arise in raising teenagers and to empower youth to cope with family, peer, school, and neighbourhood problems. MST goals are largely accomplished through the mobilization of informal child, family, and community resources that support the long-term treatment gains.