Hurricane Harvey Can't Stop the Work of MST

Posted by Laurie Spivey, MST Expert & David Tristan, MST Supervisor

Sep 7, 2017 9:38:58 AM

MST therapists and supervisors doing whatever it takes

Houston, Texas. The largest city in the southern U.S. Hit last week with a natural disaster of epic proportions. Hurricane Harvey has made an indelible mark on the landscape and on the people of the Space City. It was the lead story on the national news for days. You have probably seen the flooding, heard of the death toll, watched the search-and-rescue efforts with bated breath. If you’re like me, you cried through heartbreaking interviews with families who have lost it all. What you may not know is that there are two Multisystemic Therapy (MST) teams in Houston. This is their story. And it’s not over yet—this blog may require a Part II.

houston hurricane harvey.jpg

It’s difficult to run an MST team. It just is. It has its challenges, though any of us would tell you that the dividends are well worth the effort. Running an MST team in a city ravaged by flooding, where roads are closed, homes underwater and people sleeping in tents on their rooftops, is a completely different situation. The teams in Houston were lucky. The therapists, supervisor and all their families made it through Hurricane Harvey safely. The team’s shared office, in the heart of downtown Houston, did not fare so well. It sustained water damage and remains closed, only one team member experienced significant property damage. A number of MST families are displaced, though most are now accounted for. Despite it all, the teams press on.

MST reached out to its families

As supervisor David Tristan put it, “We could have taken time off and watched . . . but that’s not meant to be, not when your motto is ‘Whatever It Takes.’ We called and sought out our MST families. We took care of our own families and homes. We served at shelters. We provided meals to displaced neighbors. We listened and listened more to their stories of turmoil and survival, cried as the death toll rose, rejoiced with the resilience of the rescuers and cried when our friends and neighbors lost their cars and homes. Personally, I draw on the fortitude I believe only God can provide and look forward knowing that MST can and will be a beacon of light for years to come on the road to recovery.”

And so, they work. Even when they don’t have to. They will meet families where they are. Sessions will be held in shelters, in relatives’ homes and in the coming weeks, probably in FEMA trailers. Therapists will help with whatever is needed. You see, MST will always be a model designed to treat antisocial behaviors and aimed at keeping kids at home. But, when our families need shelter, we will help them find it. When they need food, we will put them in touch with the right resources so that they don’t go hungry. We will help fill out insurance forms, and we will stand in line with our people while they wait for assistance. This is what we do, this is “Whatever it Takes.” Our thoughts remain with Houston, and we hope for the safety and security of any who may be affected by the path of Hurricane Irma, as well. 

*There have been many questions from all over the MST world this week asking for practical ways to assist Houston and the MST teams, specifically. We are working with the program in Houston to determine exact needs and will provide detailed information on our Facebook page about how you can help. Thank you for all the expressions of concern.

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