Multisystemic Therapy | Harborcreek Youth Services
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a family-centered and community-based treatment that teaches and supports parenting techniques that discourage adolescent truancy, disrespect, violence, and substance abuse.
To be eligible for MST services, the adolescent (male or female) must:
- Be 12 to 17 years of age
- Be residing in a family setting with a caregiver, or returning home after any type of placement
- Have a caregiver who is willing to participate
- Have active Medical Assistance coverage
- Be exhibiting chronic, violent, delinquent behavior and/or serious emotional problems.
If the family is receiving outpatient services, partial hospitalization, or wraparound services, the mental health professional working with the adolescent must agree to referral to MST.
Admissions, provision of services, and client referrals are made without regard to race, color, religious creed, disability, ancestry, national origin (including limited English proficiency), age, or sex.
MST Program Procedures
MST delivers intensive home-based services via professional mental health therapists who are fully trained in MST and are supported by weekly supervision and telephone consultation with an MST expert.
Within the MST model, the therapist:
- Conducts comprehensive functional assessments of adolescents in the context of their families, peer group, school, and neighborhood
- Seeks to understand the roots of the adolescents' problems
- Empowers parents to effectively address their children's needs
- Enables families to build supportive social networks in their communities
- Emphasizes long-term change that continues after MST involvement ends
MST differs from conventional therapies in the following ways:
- MST therapists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Services are provided in the home, school, neighborhood, and community
- Treatment is intensive and often includes two or three visits every week with client, family, and others
- The average length of treatment is two to five months
- Services may include family and marital therapy, individual sessions with parents, chemical dependency assessment and treatment, consultations with schools, and psychiatric referrals
MST Program Goals
MST equips parents with the skills and resources needed to independently address the problems that arise while raising teenagers.
In addition, MST helps adolescents meet challenges posed by family, peers, school, and neighborhood. Within the context of support and skill-building, the therapists place developmentally appropriate demands for responsible behavior on the entire family.
For MST to be successful, it is crucial that caregivers commit to meeting with the therapist on a regular basis and to supervising and disciplining their children as directed.
MST Program Outcomes
Over $10 million of rigorous, scientific evaluations of MST have shown:
- Reductions in long-term rates of criminal offending by serious juvenile offenders
- Reductions in out-of-home placements for serious juvenile offenders
- Significant improvements in family functioning
- Decreased mental health problems for serious juvenile offenders
- Cost savings when compared to conventional mental health and juvenile justice services
MST Program Strengths
Because the MST therapist works with clients and families in their homes, he or she can accurately identify factors in the client's family, peer group, school, and neighborhood that contribute to delinquency. In addition, MST therapists build on strengths in the client's environment, and use those strengths to produce positive changes in adolescents and their families.
- "MST was a very good support."
- "I learned how to put behavioral management in place."
- "She knew she had limitations and rules."
- "Wtihout MST it would have been a lot worse; it helped me understand her and her behavior."
- "MST helped me take control of the house."
- "Our therapist has been a GREAT help to our family. We so appreciate all the help and support."
- "We want to thank you guys a lot! You helped us learn how to handle her out-of-control behaviors. The difference from other services that we had in the past is that you taught US, rather than just HER!"
- "The therapist was just great! I would recommend MST to any parent having these problems with their teens' behaviors...it helped with ALL the kids in the home, not just Ray."
Need More Information?
For more information, please contact Norm Stanford, MA, Director of Community Programs, at (814) 440-8742.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is presented in partnership with Adelphoi Village. Our mission is as follows: Using Sanctuary practices and principles, we help youth and families overcome adversity and build positive futures within a safe, Christian environment that respects and promotes individuality and strengthens community.
Harborcreek Youth Services is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and is affiliated with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Erie.