Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a family-oriented, home-based program that targets chronically violent, substance-abusing juvenile offenders 12 to 17 years old. It uses methods that promote positive social behavior and decrease antisocial behavior, including substance use, to change how youth function in their natural settings (e.g., home, school, and neighborhood). The primary goals of MST are to:
Based on the philosophy that the most effective and ethical route to help youth is through helping their families, MST views parents or guardians as valuable resources, even when they have serious and multiple needs of their own. A “multisystemic” approach, however, views these youths as involved in a network of interconnected systems that encompass individual, family, and extra-familial (e.g., peer, school, and neighborhood) factors and recognizes that it is often necessary to intervene in more than one of these systems. MST addresses these factors in an individualized, comprehensive, and integrated manner.
MST has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for multiple problems of serious and violent juvenile offenders in different settings. It also has proved to be cost-beneficial.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Model program
OJJDP Blueprints Project: Effective program
U.S. Surgeon General’s Reports on Mental Health and Youth Violence: Effective program
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2001): Model program
Annie E. Casey Foundation: Families Count Award
Scott Henggeler, Ph.D.
Family Services Research Center
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina
171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425-0742
Marshall Swenson, M.S.W., M.B.A.
Manager of Program Development
710 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: (843) 856-8226, Ext. 215
Fax: (843) 856-8227
Web site: www.mstservices.com
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Henggeler, S. W.; Mihalic, S. F.; Rone, L.; Thomas, C. R.; and Timmons-Mitchell, J. (1998). Blueprints For Violence Prevention, Book Six: Multisystemic Therapy. Boulder, Colorado: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
Henggeler, S. W.; Schoenwald, S. K.; Borduin, C. M.; Rowland, M. D.; and Cunningham, P. B.. (2009). Multisystemic Treatment of Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Ogden, T., and Hagen, K. A. (2006). “Multisystemic Therapy of Serious Behavior Problems in Youth: Sustainability of Therapy Effectiveness Two Years After Intake.” Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 11(3):142–149.
Ogden, T., and Halliday-Boykins, C. A. (2004). “Multisystemic Treatment of Antisocial Adolescents in Norway: Replication of Clinical Outcomes Outside of the U.S.” Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 9(2):77–83.
Schaeffer, C. M., and Borduin, C. M. (2005). “Long-Term Follow-Up to a Randomized Clinical Trial of Multisystemic Therapy With Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(3):445–453.
Timmons-Mitchell, J.; Bender, M. B.; Kishna, M. A.; and Mitchell, C. C. (2006). “An Independent Effectiveness Trial of Multisystemic Therapy With Juvenile Justice Youth.” Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35(2):227–236.