A Letter to Families Beginning MST

Posted by An MST parent in the UK

A mother counsels others on the benefits of MST

By the time a family enters Multisystemic Therapy (MST), the downhill journey into despair has been going on for a long time. They feel alone and without hope. A mother in the U.K. certainly felt like that.

Her son was violent and threatening. So much so that the mother was relieved when he wasn’t home, even though she didn’t know where he was, who he was with or what kind of trouble he was getting into. Her stomach churned when she heard his key in the door. This was not the way to live. And to top it off, she labelled herself a failure. “I had nothing left to give. I was often tearful and overwhelmed,” she recalled.

Then MST arrived. After completing the program, the mother wrote a letter for families who are embarking on the road in search of real, lasting help for their child through MST. 

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Topics: family stories,

A UK Carer Describes How MST Works

Posted by Kashmir Goddard, MST Therapist

In her own words. One mum shares her story of her MST treatment

Her relationship with her 14-year-old son had broken down. She argued with her own parents because they had different parenting styles, and she felt like she could no longer go to them for needed support. Most of all Mum was scared. It seemed as if it was too late to turn things around, no matter what she did. Mum was convinced that she had lost her son. She was convinced rules, consequences and rewards would only make things worse. 

What was she to do?

one uk carers journey through mst.jpg

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Topics: family stories,

Celebrating Moms on Mother's Day

Posted by Laurie Spivey, MST Services

A mom, a daughter, an MST therapist, Jennifer Cottingham-Lane juggles it all, and does it well

It’s before dawn in Houston, Texas and MST Therapist Jennifer Cottingham-Lane is up packing lunches for her children and preparing for another long day. Jennifer doesn’t even get one day a week to sleep in. Most nights, she goes to bed with her phone’s volume turned way up, just in case one of her MST families needs her. A single mom with two children of her own and a former college athlete, Jennifer coaches 8-10 year olds in track. Her kids run track and play baseball and somehow she manages to fit it all in, even though it means seeing her MST families on the weekends, early in the morning, or in the evenings. Jennifer is a master juggler. She has to be.

mothers day mst jennifer cottingham lane.jpg Jennifer and her daughter, whom she coaches

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Topics: family stories,

This Story Has A Sad Ending

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

So if you don’t like sad, don’t read it.

We live in a lovely neighborhood in a residential community outside Boston.

It’s quintessential New England. Cul-de-sac, walking distance to school, the library and shops. Full of big backyards with swing sets and slides. I raised my two kids here. They are now in their 20s.


not a happy ending.jpg

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Topics: family stories,

Multisystemic Therapy as an Alternative to Placement

Posted by Jennifer Vinces-Cua, MST Expert

A determined grandmother does whatever it takes to help her grandson succeed

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) therapists and supervisors engage all families and do whatever it takes to build a trusting relationship. They know how important it is to connect to families and their needs in a direct and efficient way from day one. This connection was made with a 68-year-old grandmother who referred to herself as "Guerrera,"—Spanish for warrior. 

Guerrera’s story is one of courage and strength. She fought against odds to regain her grandson from the grips of the local street gang. Sadly, the presence of criminal activity was not foreign to her. She was exposed to it when living in her native country of Colombia years before moving to New York City.

grandma opens door to mst.jpg

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Topics: family stories,

Giving Thanks to MST Families

Posted by Alessandra Longo

On Thanksgiving, Alessandra Longo takes a moment to reflect on her work

When I think about the things for which I’m thankful, one thing that immediately comes to mind is how thankful I am for the fulfilling work that I love. 

What follows exemplifies why I find my work with MST families so rewarding.

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Topics: family stories,

Giving Thanks to her MST Therapist

Posted by A caregiver from New York

Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday when turkey abounds and families get together to enjoy each other’s company. Oh yes, and to give thanks for all they have. One woman is grateful to her MST therapist for making it possible to enjoy the company of her 16-year-old sister, who had been in and out of trouble and court, and was heading toward placement.

We were in court again because C had messed up. Another arrest. And that wasn’t all she was doing. She wasn’t going to school at all. Some days, I’d drop her off, and she’d sneak out the back door as soon as I left. She would run away for weeks at a time, staying at her boyfriend’s house all hours of the day and night. She was smoking marijuana and doing God knows what else. When she was home, she was disrespectful, and we argued. She was stealing from me, stealing from stores, and hanging out with friends that I didn’t approve of—the type of friends who ended up on the news because of the stuff they were involved in. I had to deal with all of this because I took in my sister when no one else was left to take care of her. Not to mention I had four of my own children to take care of, the youngest barely four months old that day in court. Thanksgiving.jpeg

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Topics: MST, family stories,, success stories,

Multisystemic Therapy Helps Troubled Youth Turn Life Around

Posted by Diane Bieliski, MST Therapist, Adelphoi Village

MST mends family, paving road to duccess

“It’s not going to work. Nothing has worked in the past.”

All too familiar words heard when an MST therapist takes on a case. Father Matthew and stepmother Linda had their doubts when their 17-year-old son, Michael, was referred to the MST program at Adelphoi Village. Michael was aggressive at home and struggled with academics and school attendance. The family tried a series of formal support programs over the years. Nothing worked. The boy’s parents were sure he wouldn’t change and that he would probably “fire” the MST therapist just as he had so many others before.Diane_B_success_story_blog_pic

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Topics: MST outcomes, family stories,, success stories,

Multisystemic Therapy Helps Troubled Youth with Family Therapy

Posted by Julianna Ohler

Troubled Youth Goes From Hating to Loving School

(For the sake of confidentiality, the client is called “Joe” in the story.) 

Many times, the behaviors and circumstances surrounding cases referred to Multisystemic Therapy (MST) seem insurmountable. In Joe’s case, years of school refusal (since kindergarten), academic struggles and defiance made it seem as though finding the solution was akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, the family, referral source and school had pinned their hopes on MST since it is designed to work with such intensive behavior. Despite the challenging task ahead of Catherine Cook, the MST therapist, she helped the family retrieve the missing needle that positively contributed to the family’s success of getting a 16-year-old boy back to a school and what’s more, a school where he has thrived academically and enjoyed attending.


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Topics: family stories,, success stories,

MST Treatment Unites Systems to Save Child

Posted by Janice Wolfinger, MST Clinical Supervisor

MST therapist works with all systems surrounding child to keep him at home, in school and out of trouble.

Andrew was living with his grandmother and had lost touch with his absent parents. He fought verbally and physically with his older sister, and his grandmother did not know how to intervene. She was seeking placement for him outside the home in order to get him help for his behaviors. At school, Andrew was disruptive in classes, fought with peers and threatened teachers, resulting in the school taking steps toward a long-term suspension from school. He was on a diversion contact with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), and the Court Counselor (CC) was planning to take Andrew to court to increase the level of supervision because of his aggressive behaviors. In other words, Andrew was on the brink of being placed outside the home, and things needed to change quickly. grandmother_two

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Topics: building families, analytic process, family stories,, success stories,

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