The Multisystemic Therapy (MST) treatment model was first introduced in the early 1980s, in Charleston, SC, and has since expanded to 34 states, as well as internationally to eight countries. This MST family-preservation model has proven long-term effectiveness and sustainability for more than 20 years evidenced by scientific research.
MST achieves outcomes at a cost savings in comparison with usual mental health and juvenile justice services, by decreasing incarceration and out of home placement costs. Length of treatment averages three to five months.
MST was first put into practice in Ignacio, CO, in 2000, and was the first MST program in Indian Country.
In 2004, the Peaceful Spirit MST team expanded into Durango and Pagosa Springs, CO.
MST focuses intensive family-based treatment on youth who have shown chronic or violent delinquent behavior . These behaviors include fighting, vandalism, drug and/or alcohol use, criminal activity, running away, serious disobedience and disrespect, chronic truancy/academic problems, and who are at high risk of out-of-home placement or expulsion from school because of these behaviors
MST addresses the multiple factors known to be related to delinquency across the key settings, or systems, within which youth are embedded (e.g., family, peers, school, neighborhood). The MST approach views individuals as being nested within a complex network of interconnected systems that encompass individual, family, and extra familial (peers, school, neighborhood, community) factors. Intervention may be necessary in any one or a combination of these systems, or ecologies*.
MST strives to promote behavior change in the youth’s natural environment, using the strengths of each system to facilitate change.
MST THERAPISTS WILL:
- Often have daily contact with families and school systems, as well as other key players in the youth’s life.
- Help parents develop methods of improving parenting skills.
- Help families develop methods of monitoring their child’s peer network, school attendance, community pro-social involvement, parole or probation responsibilities.
- Help families develop a community based network to help keep their daughter or son in home and in school/work.
- Help families develop crisis management skills and access natural support systems, as well as needed formal supports (i.e., law enforcement, emergency psychiatric services, mental health services).
- Help caregivers to manage future difficulties.
- Work in partnership with school personnel staff, parole or probation officers, case managers and other key providers to carry out mutual goals and interventions that lead to family success.
- Be available to families as a team 24/7.
- Provide therapy—family, couple and child counseling as needed.
NINE PRINCIPLES OF MST
- Identifying the “Fit.”
- Increase Responsibility
- Present-Focused & Action-Oriented
- Target Sequences
- Developmentally Appropriate
- Continuous Effort
- Evaluation & Accountability