Providing Multisystemic Therapy with Sparse Populations

Posted by Halldór Hauksson, Program Director, MST Iceland

MST's work in Iceland shows that it's possible to provide MST in remote areas

Approximately 500 families have completed Multisystemic Therapy (MST) in Iceland since the first team started in November 2008. MST was brought in as a part of a policy change by the Government Agency for Child Protection, which is a provider for speciailised services like Parent Management Training–Oregon Model (PMTO), MST and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for sexually abused children (Barnahus—Children‘s House). Since 2010, two MST standard teams have worked in Iceland. MST, like all other social services in the country, is free of charge.

MST brought a significant improvement to the Icelandic Child Protection System (CPS) and made it possible to close many of the residential treatment homes.

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST

Investing in Youth by Investing in Multisystemic Therapy

Posted by Lori Moore, MST Services

The C-Rep Behavioral Health Agency makes a difference in Fayetteville, North Carolina

"When we identify our youth by what they do, and label them 'youth offenders,' instead of who they are, we limit them and ourselves to all the possibilities of what they can become. Even if those very young people have made choices to go down the wrong path, don’t they deserve someone to invest in their lives and in their future?" —Tony Haire, PhD.

This story could have turned out a lot differently. It could have ended with Tony Haire in jail. But it didn’t.

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST

MST as a Successful Treatment for Teen Drug Abuse

Posted by Mike Williams & Shani Alexander, Advanced Behavioral Health

Multisystemic Therapy helps teen beat drug abuse 

Grace is a 15-year-old who was referred to Multisystemic Therapy (MST) after her truancy led to a Family With Service Needs (FWSN) petition. An FWSN petition allows the state of Connecticut to address the needs of children younger than 16 who have committed what’s considered unlawful behavior. MST was the program of choice because of its proven effectiveness with teen drug abuse and delinquent youth.


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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, substance abuse

What Makes MST so Effective?

Posted by Jamie Bunch-Sanfilippo

10-year MST veteran shares thoughts on what makes the evidence-based model work

Marta Lear has been a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) supervisor for 10 years. In that time, she witnessed up close the elements that contribute to MST being such a powerful tool in helping chronic juvenile offenders get on the right track to becoming successful, productive adults.

One extremely important factor Lear found was the high level of support and guidance provided to therapists and supervisors by MST, which included the quality of  booster trainings. In other programs, she says, therapists may get adequate training and even follow-up booster sessions. However, they often lack a focus on sustainability of the program, as well as fidelity to the model. MST requires both.MST Supervisor shares advice

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, MST, evidence-based

Sweden Study Shows Implementation of MST Improves Over Time

Posted by Dr. Gregorio Melendez

How important is experience when it comes to Multisystemic Therapy?

Everyone agrees that experience matters. The more time and practice you put into something, the better your performance. But, what if it there was a situation where it was the experience of your colleagues and organization, rather than your own, that mattered more to your future performance? This was the unexpected finding in a recently published study out of Sweden, “The Swedish Implementation of Multisystemic Therapy for Adolescents: Does Treatment Experience Predict Treatment Adherence?” 


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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, Sweden study, MST implementation

Doing What Works: Why I Refer to Multisystemic Therapy (MST).

Posted by Daniel Warner, Ph.D. Founder and president, Community Data Roundtable

Psychologist finds great alternative for youth with Multisystemic Therapy

As a young clinical psychologist, fresh out of graduate school working for a private community mental-health agency, I was referred a 16-year-old white male for an “evaluation and assessment.”  The evaluation and assessment is a common task in the child-serving system. Though it has different names, different funding streams and can be performed at a myriad of points in the process, it is always done for the same basic reason: to receive an expert’s opinion on what next steps should be taken in a child’s care. For the young man before me, it wasn’t quite clear what that step should be. depressedteenmale

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, MST testimonial

Rand study finds juvenile offenders improve outcomes with MST

Posted by Jamie Bunch-Sanfilippo

Study Finds Hispanic Juvenile Offenders in LA County Show Marked Improvements with MST

With Hispanics and Latinos making up more than 48 percent of Los Angeles’ population, it is no surprise that those concerned with the local juvenile-justice system would turn to the Rand Corporation to evaluate how effective Multisystemic Therapy is with minority youth offenders. 

Rand’s study followed 757 juveniles who received Multisystemic Therapy and 380 offenders who did not participate in the program from 2003 to 2010 to compare the outcomes of both groups. Of the MST group, 77 percent were Hispanic as compared to 69 percent in the non-MST group.

The results show MST-treated youth having a lower recidivism rate and doing better in their dealings with the county's probation system. (See below.) MST youth had significantly lower incarceration rates than the other group (11.2 percent, compared with 20.3 percent) and significantly higher rates of completion of community service (8.5 percent versus 2.6 percent).rand_graphic

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, MST outcomes, Rand Study

MST: Keeping Troubled Teens out of Jail and with their Families

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

Crystal had reached the “What more can I do?” stage. Her 17-year-old daughter, Danielle, had been getting in trouble for years. It reached crisis overload when the girl disappeared over a Memorial Day weekend. Crystal was sure she had run away, but hesitated involving the police.

As time passed, the mother felt she had no choice and had a PINS (People In Need of Supervision) warrant issued on her daughter. This meant that if found, Danielle would be returned to New York City, where they lived, and brought before a judge.cher_image 

Getting a warrant wasn’t a decision Crystal took lightly. She knew she ran the risk of losing her child to the juvenile-justice system. Danielle was found safe in Washington, D.C. And then things changed dramatically for mother and daughter. The New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) had a mandate to keep kids out of the system and with their families whenever possible.

So instead of Danielle being carted away, the court recommended Multisystemic Therapy (MST) as her treatment plan. Crystal was “skeptical,” as she later put it. After all, she and Danielle had been seeing individual therapists for two years at great out-of-pocket expense with little evidence her daughter was improving. MST was different, Crystal was told. A therapist would be assigned to the case, she would work with them in their home—and it wouldn’t cost the family anything.

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, Reduce Serious Offending

Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System: MST's Response

Posted by Maureen Kishna

The unrest that started in Ferguson, Mo., after the shooting death in August of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white policeman continued to roil. It was exacerbated by the killing of another young black in St. Louis again at the hands of a white officer. Hundreds from across the country descended on the two cities to protest with shouts of “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot” and placards proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” The incidents are reminders of the imbalance in many of our nation’s communities.

120312-national-arrest-handcuffs-police-school-to-prison.jpg.custom1200x675x20Black youths are two times as likely to be arrested as their white counterparts. ProPublica found that black are at 21 percent higher risk of being killed by police than young whites. Disparities exist at nearly every point of the juvenile justice system according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). They are less likely to be diverted, more likely to be sentenced to secure facilities, and even more likely to be transferred to the adult system. Many communities are working to identify what they can do to correct this inequality.

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, disproportionate minority contact

Getting It Right at Rikers Island

Posted by Jon Steinmetz

Recently, New York City newspapers published articles raising awareness regarding violent incidents at Rikers Island.   

For those not familiar with New York, Rikers Island is the city’s main jail complex, a 413.17-acre island located in the East River between Queens and the Bronx. If you fly into LaGuardia Airport, you will see the razor wire-surrounded island located only a short swim from the runway. Adult and youth offenders reside on this island dedicated exclusively to incarceration. rikers-525x300

While the news articles bring up significant concerns, the incidents of violence are not new. As one might expect, the occupants are not there because they are model citizens. A wide range of law infractions and violations can earn a trip to Rikers. The constitutionality of sending youth offenders there has been questioned, especially considering that "most


 of whom have not yet been convicted of crime, and about half of whom have been diagnosed with a mental illness," according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.  

Once there, safety is not assured. There are rival gangs looking to start a fight. Forty percent of the population has been diagnosed with mental problems. The staff response to violent inmates has resulted in frequent injuries and sometimes death.

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Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, MST, rikers island,, social impact bonds,

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