Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive in-home therapy for adolescents ages 12 to 17 who are experiencing oppositional behavior. Oppositional behavior is defined as but not limited to truancy, not following rules at home or school, verbal aggression, physical aggression, substance abuse or negative peer influence. Youth do not want to listen to authority or follow rules and is displaying behavior that has or could result in police and/or court involvement.
What does treatment look like?
MST treatment is a home-based therapy. The youth’s behaviors and drivers to the behaviors are targeted in treatment with a family systems approach. Parents are involved in each therapy session. In this setting, the parents are gaining insights into the specific problems their child and the family is experiencing. The therapist is providing tools and strategies to diffuse future issues and transform the youth’s life. Plans are developed to be successful in decreasing the oppositional behaviors.
Throughout the course of therapy the youth is transitioning to more positive behaviors and making better choices. The youth are also being moved towards being involved in positive activities with positive peers.
An MST therapist is on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The MST therapist has a smaller caseload, which allows for the flexibility to help families when a crisis arises. Research showed that meeting at least two times a week was most effective in decreasing oppositional behaviors. Therapists will meet with families as often as necessary but are meeting at least two times a
week. The therapist’s flexible schedule allows counseling sessions to be scheduled at convenient times for the family. Therapy typically lasts three to five months. The MST therapist’s job is to help the family build long-term sustainability.
The end goal of MST therapy is for the client to not be arrested and to remain in the home and community and to decrease behaviors that get them in trouble.