MST Therapist Gives Refugee Mother Hope and Independence

Posted by Geena Jacobsson

Jun 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Bridging cultures and a language barrier, MST does whatever it takes

Imagine that you are a single mom of a 14-year old boy. He’s an impulsive little guy. He loves to run away from school and into the small grocery store next door where he snaps up candy and snacks while no one is looking. When he is in the school building, he’s seldom in a classroom, preferring areas where kids take their breaks and adult supervision is minimal. After school, he’s out who knows where, with who knows whom, doing who knows what. You’re scared, but what to do?

Now imagine that you’re that mom in a country where you’ve settled as a refuge from indescribable hard times in your homeland. You don’t speak the language. You don’t know the customs. You’re expected to get around on buses and trains, but you’ve never lived in a big city in all your life.

You have no family here. You know no one. Your child is causing lots of trouble, and you’re terrified that his behavior will get you sent away from this safe, if overwhelming, new home. Social services has been in touch, and they’ve sent a lady from Multisystemic Therapy (MST) to your home. You’ve never heard of MST and you’re afraid of what she can do to you, to your family. How much does she know? How can you keep your secrets hidden from her?

Ally or enemy?

She has an interpreter with her, and they tell you that she is there to help you with your son. She tells you that she’ll be coming to your home several times a week. You are terrified. You assure her and the interpreter (a spy from your homeland?) that all is well. You sit very quietly. The less you say the better, right?

But this lady. Something about her. She knows what your son has been doing, and she talks about the school’s responsibility, as well as yours.  She already has the teachers doing things to keep your child from leaving the building. One evening, you and she and the interpreter go out into the neighborhood. She introduces you to people who know your son. She takes you to places where young people like yours hang out. She teaches you which buses to take to get to different places. She offers to go with you another evening, but you decide to try it on your own instead. Independence! You once were a strong, indepedent woman, and you remember that feeling when you step onto the bus without the lady, without an interpreter.

Definitely ally

Slowly you begin to see that this lady and her interpreter are not spies. They really are on your side. They don’t want to take your son away. They don’t want to send you back home. This lady is giving you the keys to your new home. She’s helping you make the contacts you need to keep your son safe in this new place. She’s helping you be the mom you were before you brought your son to this new country. 

Imagine that you are the single mom of a 14-year-old boy. Imagine that you are that mom in a country where you might not speak the language (yet), but where you know people who can help you and you know how to get around and you are not scared. You are strong.

What a wonderful person that MST lady was to see the real you.

Topics: MST Success Stories