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Treating Serious Anti-Social Behavior in Youth: The MST (Multisystemic Therapy) Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
Henggeler, S. W.
This bulletin highlights evaluations of several programs that have implemented the MST (Multisystemic Therapy) approach to the treatment of serious anti-social behavior in adolescents.
MST is a home-based services approach whose goal is to provide an integrative, cost-effective, family-based treatment that results in positive outcomes for adolescents who manifest serious antisocial behavior. MST focuses first on improving psycho-social functioning for youth and their families, so that the need for out-of-home child placements is reduced or eliminated. To achieve this task, MST addresses the known causes of delinquency on an individualized, yet comprehensive basis. MST interventions, therefore, focus on the individual youth and his/her family, peer context, school/vocational performance, and neighborhood/community supports. This report focuses on the evaluations of MST programs in Columbia, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Simpsonville, S.C. Evaluations are also reviewed for federally funded projects under way. The evaluations show that MST has decreased criminal activity and incarceration in studies with violent and chronic juvenile offenders; results are promising in studies of other populations that present complex clinical problems. The success of MST is based on several factors, including its emphasis on addressing the known causes of delinquency; the provision of treatment services where the problems are in home, school, and community settings; and a focus on issues of treatment adherence and program fidelity. 20 references
Date Created: August 13, 2014