Hanging Out With the Wrong Crowd

Posted by Lori Moore

Your mother was right—Who you hang out with influences what you do

I remember when I was growing up, the youngest of 11 children, my mother would tell me not to hang out with "those kids," the wrong crowd, the ones who would get me in trouble. And of course, I would protest, "No, they won’t. They are my friends." Then, inevitably, they did. Nothing too major, just enough that I knew my friends had a big influence on me. 

It turns out that research shows my mother was right. When looking at the predictors of anti-social behavior, "negative peer association" is the most powerful one, making it a high-risk factor for the teens we work with in Multisystemic Therapy (MST).


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Topics: Troubled Youth

What to Do With an Out-Of-Control Pregnant Teen

Posted by Jill Kleinfelter

Using a family’s strengths is critical to MST success

Some kids have a hard time fitting into the world around them. They have trouble in school. The police know them. They are disconnected from critical family relationships. And their friendships are fleeting, at best. Marissa came into the juvenile-justice system because she was truant from school, pregnant and "running the streets" every night. Her out-of-control behaviors put her at high risk for going into custody.


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Topics: Troubled Youth

How to Deal With an Angry Teen?

Posted by Geena Jacobsson

Multisystemic Therapy turns anger into motivation

Allen did not like school and therefore, refused to go. No one could make him do anything he didn’t want to do. If they tried, he’d yell, throw things and generally scare them into backing down.

Everyone backed down when Allen showed them who was boss. Mom did. Schoolteachers did. Social workers did. His anger was a very powerful weapon, and he used it as often as he felt necessary to keep people from telling him what to do. 


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Topics: Troubled Youth

What to Do with an Out-Of-Control Youth?

Posted by Sophie Karpf

“For years, we had to defend our crazy.” These are the words Susan used to describe the situation with her son, Benjamin. 

For confidentiality, all names have been changed.

By the time Benjamin was 12, his family had nearly reached the end of their rope. With seven members of a blended family living under the same roof, things were understandably chaotic at times. They were only made more strained by Benjamin’s frequent angry outbursts and out-of-control rage.benjamin.jpg

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Topics: Troubled Youth

Multisystemic Therapy Puts End to Young Man's Criminal Behavior

Posted by Geena Jacobsson

Using MST and tech-savvy to stop a 14-year-old’s criminal enterprise

Danny was referred to Multisystemic Therapy (MST) for stealing, truancy and verbal aggression at home. The treatment addressed all these problems. One, in particular, took some creative thinking.

At 14, Danny was quite the entrepreneur. Very clever at buying low and selling high, he had a business going where he sold electronics, clothes and high-end sneakers to his friends, to friends of friends and to people out of town who were nobody’s friends. He used online platforms to pay his customers and to get paid.


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Topics: Troubled Youth

Out-of-Control Teen Gains Control with Multisystemic Therapy

Posted by Paula Magana

How an MST therapist helped an angry youth turn his life around

After physically assaulting his mother, Kyle was put on probation. A community deputy probation officer referred him and his mother to the MST program. Kyle lived with her and his stepfather in an upper-middle class neighborhood. In the beginning of the program, he was adversarial and defiant at home. He disregarded rules, flouted his parents’ directives, challenged their requests, had angry outbursts, was verbally aggressive toward both of them and sometimes physically aggressive toward his mother. Kyle had a history of stealing from his parents and blaming others for his choices. 

Kyle not only behaved like this at home, he broke rules at school. He had a pattern of being disruptive in class, stealing from students and teachers, physically threatening teachers, leaving school and classrooms without permission, and defying teachers’ directives. In fact, prior to his participation in MST, Kyle had 45 disciplinary entries at school. He struggled for a long time with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. 


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Topics: Troubled Youth

What Would the Judge Do with this Troubled Teen?

Posted by Nicole Saunders

Would "K" be better off in placement, or could MST help keep her with her family?

It was a case of “what would it take?” What would be the tipping point that would make a judge decide to send an incorrigible young girl to placement or leave her at home?

Before the judge stood a 14-year-old K who had exhibited many of the behaviors of an out-of-control youth. She couldn’t control her anger. She went missing for long periods of time and had substance-abuse problems. She was aggressive toward her family and disrespected her mother—to the point her mom had had enough and was throwing in the towel. She wanted the judge to remove her daughter from her home.Girl_in_trouble.jpg

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Topics: Troubled Youth

MST Empowers Mom With the Four D's

Posted by Sharon King

Sometimes D’s are the best thing to get

I was at my wit’s end. My 13-year-old son, Brendan, was suspended from school (again), failing all of his classes. I knew he was on a bad path and didn’t know how to get him off it.

Brendan had seen his share of therapists. In fact, he’d been in therapy for more than six years, and nothing worked. Brendan didn’t like to talk, he didn’t open up, and his behavior never changed. If anything, as he got older, it had gotten worse. Now in middle school, he was facing expulsion after the most recent suspension.

His therapist mentioned a program that is targeted at juvenile offenders. I figured if it could work for them, it might work for Brendan. I didn’t want him taken away and placed out of our home. He was definitely headed that way.


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Topics: Troubled Youth

MST-FIT: Breaking the Cycle of Recidivism for Juvenile Offenders

Posted by Laurie Spivey

The revolving door of juvenile offending can be stopped

When juvenile offenders move from incarceration back home and into their communities, it is a crucial period. Unfortunately, that period often results in a revolving door for seven of 10 released youths. They revert to committing crimes and are locked up again. MST-FIT, (Family Integrated Transitions) an adaptation of Multisystemic Therapy, has proven to be an effective way to break this cycle. It is an intensive six-month family and community-based treatment program that strengthens the family’s ability to support their youth and keep them out of trouble.

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Topics: Troubled Youth

How to Deter Juvenile Crime? Community-Based Programs like MST

Posted by Lori Cohen

What stops high-risk juveniles from further crime?

A report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention based on the “Pathways to Desistance” project offered up a serious look at what deters high-risk kids from committing future crimes.

More than 1,300 delinquents from Philadelphia and Phoenix were interviewed seven years after they were convicted. They were asked about the factors—becoming more mature, life changes and whether they were involved again with the criminal-justice system—that led youth who have committed serious offenses to continue or stop offending.deterrence_blog_pic

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Topics: Troubled Youth