How MST Achieves Long Lasting Results

Posted by Laurie Spivey, MST Services

The nine principles of MST ensure that the treatment gains continue

Since becoming involved with Multisystemic Therapy (MST) 13 years ago, I have probably been asked 1,000 times what MST is or what I do. It can be a complicated question to answer only because MST does so many things. We solve problems. We keep at-risk kids at home. We empower good people to be great parents. We make communities safer. We save taxpayer dollars. We champion juvenile-justice reform...honestly, I could go on. 

I am proud of my work and the collective work of MST teams across the globe. While there may have been a few parties or family gatherings at which it would have been nice to provide a shorter answer like “I teach third grade,” I’m glad I do what I do. But perhaps the part that makes me most proud is our treatment generalization.

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Topics: MST nine principles

Following MST's Nine Principles Leads to Successful Outcomes

Posted by Patrick Duffy and Marshall Swenson, MST Services

An MST case study looks closely at principles 3 and 9  

Kids are pulled every which way, even those from stable, supportive families. They don’t know who they are, what they want to be, how they should act. If you throw into that mix parents who are struggling to parent, friends who are negative influences, schools not able or too overwhelmed to cope with “problem” students, you have a child who might need help getting out or staying out of the juvenile-justice system.

Sixteen-year-old James is a case in point. Here was a kid on probation for numerous arrests ranging from theft, substance abuse and being aggressive. He came home whenever he chose. What’s more, the boy hung out with other teens who got in trouble with the law.


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Topics: MST nine principles

Police Officer Turned MST Supervisor Reflects on Similarities

Posted by Mark Shokair, MST Supervisor

Former police officer goes from making arrests to preventing them

At first glance, there is little similarity between the field of law enforcement and the world of mental health. Although law-enforcement personnel regularly encounter mentally ill individuals, their objectives differ from those of mental-health care providers. Despite these differences, there are similarities when one takes the time to look a little deeper.

Prior to moving to Los Angeles and becoming an MST supervisor, I was a police officer in a major city with the major objective of protecting life and property. From the systemic perspective, law enforcement is in place to ensure order in our society and laws are followed. They are, in essence, the initial step that society put into place to impose consequences, followed by the courts and the correctional system. 


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Topics: MST nine principles, analytic process

Finding the Right MST FIT for Mum and Son

Posted by Emma Lowe, MST Therapist

Finding the Right FIT for Mum and Son With Multisystemic Therapy

MST clinicians often get asked how we effect change in families who are mandated to services or families who have not had success in other services. The answer is pretty straightforward, in MST, we maintain a constant focus on engagement and alignment, we meet people where they are and leverage their strengths for change.

This case began deceptively well. The family had bought into meeting with the therapist and changing the son’s behavior. Then a barrier was hit. The mother wasn’t buying MST’s focus on working with and treating the entire family.


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Topics: MST nine principles, MST outcomes

How Multisystemic Therapy Empowers Families: A Therapist's View

Posted by Sarah Johansson, MST-SA Supervisor

MST provides parents with the tools to build strong families

When I think about the kids I meet and the families who invite me into their homes, I think about despair that no one should have to experience. These parents at some point lost the power, not only to their child who is acting up, but to the system. If you have ever held the hand of someone who is fighting back the tears as the judge is preparing to announce the decision he or she has made about the child's future, you know what despair I'm talking about.

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Topics: MST nine principles

Finding the Fit: How MST Breaks Down Barriers to Treating Families

Posted by Alessandra Longo

Identifying an individual solution for each family

"I don't know what to do with her anymore." Ms. Martinez and I sat knee to knee on her black vinyl couch. "Maybe she would be better off living somewhere else. A place where she has lots of rules."

Ms. Martinez's words may have seemed callous but sending her daughter away appeared to be the only viable option to keep her safe. I placed my clipboard on the seat next to me and looked at her face. "I know how overwhelming this all seems right now. We know Gabriela is using drugs, not going to school and may be involved in a gang. Sending her away might make some problems go away temporarily but what will happen when she comes home to the same environment? I think we have a better chance of helping Gabriela by looking at all the pieces of the puzzle." Finding_the_fit_image

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Topics: MST nine principles, Finding the Fit

Engaging Families is the Bedrock of MST

Posted by Alessandra Longo

knocked on a family’s door. The mother answered, simultaneously shoving the dog aside with her foot and pushing a stack of papers into my hands. Her hair looked rumpled and she wore the same blue t-shirt from the day before.  

Bronx_Cityscape010“Miss  Longo, the system is broken!” she shouted up at me. I looked at the papers and noted her welfare case had been closed again. The family’s entitlements would be suspended until she endured another full day battle just to begin the process of reapplication. I could feel her looking at me expectantly. My eyes met hers and I raised one side of my mouth in shared disappointment. “Frustrating,” I said. “I wish you didn’t have to go through the whole process again.”

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, MST nine principles

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