What is MST?
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a unique, goal-oriented, comprehensive treatment program designed to serve multi-problem youth in their community. MST is the only family-focused and community-based treatment program that has:
- been the focus of several major research studies, and
- demonstrated clinical- and cost-effectiveness for youth with complex emotional, social, and academic needs.
MST was developed at the Family Services Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, and uses only treatment strategies that are supported by research.
Who should receive MST?
MST is effective in helping youth with chronic, violent delinquent behavior and youth with serious emotional problems, including:
- truancy and academic problems
- serious disrespect and disobedience
- aggressive behavior (fighting and destroying property)
- criminal behavior
- drug and alcohol problems
- running away
What makes MST work?
Research studies of youth who break the law repeatedly and/or abuse illegal substances are clear. The causes of juvenile offending behavior are difficulties in the following areas:
- family relations
- school performance
- peer relations
- neighborhood and community relations
MST interventions focus on key aspects of these areas in each youth’s life. All interventions are designed in full collaboration with family members and key figures in each of the child’s life -- parents or legal guardians, school teachers, guidance counselors, and principals, etc.
What does MST do?
- Completes a functional assessment of youth in the context of their family, school, and community
- Seeks to understand the “fit” between the child’s problems and the factors which contribute to them
- Focuses on helping parents build supportive social networks
- Empowers parents to address the needs of the youth more effectively
- Emphasizes long-term change that families can maintain after the program
How does MST use a “home-based” model?
- Services are provided in the home, school, neighborhood and community
- Caseloads of therapists are small (4-6 families per therapist) and treatment is intensive, often including multiple contacts with family and other participants every week
- Length of treatment averages 3-5 months
- Therapists are fully trained in MST
- Therapists work in teams and provide coverage for each other’s caseloads
- Each team has a supervisor and an expert consultant from Multisystemic Therapy Services, Inc. in Charleston, South Carolina, who consult weekly on all cases.
What can I expect from my MST therapist?
Any combination of the following services could be provided to the youth and his/her family, as needed, within the MST program:
- family therapy
- marital therapy
- individual therapy with youth and parents
- chemical dependency assessment and treatment
- evaluation of the youth’s peer network and arrangement of alternative activities
- consultation with schools
- coordination of activities with school systems, court, and/or other social service agencies