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MST Treatment Model

Intensive family-focused therapy

Increasing the parenting skills of caregivers and changing the behavior of violent and criminal youth is the foundation of the MST model.girl 2 Unlike other treatment models where the troubled youth sees a therapist at a clinic once a week, MST therapists go to where the youth lives, hangs out and attends school. This is because there is overwhelming evidence that all the components in an adolescent’s life—family, friends, school and neighborhood—contribute to serious anti-social activities.

Often, the MST therapist meets with the family and other people in the youth's life much more than once a week. They are there when needed. And since problems don’t have business hours from 9 to 5, therapists on the team are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Such an intensive service is possible because therapists work with a limited number of families at any given time.

Traveling to the family overcomes the high dropout rates of other treatments, which often occur because of the difficulty caregivers face getting the youth to appointments.

In the home and the community

Out-of-home placements, such as juvenile detention, residential treatment, psychiatric hospitalization and boot camps, have proved largely ineffective in achieving positive and lasting results. It’s common sense why they are unsuccessful. The adolescent returns home to the same conditions that were there before he or she left. And goes back to getting into trouble—doing drugs, stealing, skipping school, staying out late or all night with other out-of-control youths. Added to this mix is that the juvenile offender probably picked up new criminal activities while in out-of-home placement.

To break this cycle, MST interventions work to

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  • increase the caregivers' parenting skills
  • improve family relations
  • involve the youth with friends who do not participate in criminal behavior
  • help him or her get better grades or start to develop a vocation
  • help the adolescent participate in positive activities, such as sports or school clubs
  • create a support network of extended family, neighbors and friends to help the caregivers maintain the changes

Family members collaborate with MST therapists in designing a treatment plan. The plans make sense to the families and build on the strengths in their lives, which makes it more likely the family will be successful with the plans, both during and after treatment.

Numerous studies have proven that the MST approach achieves excellent, long-term results, for instance:

  • reducing re-arrest rates up to 70 percent
  • reducing out-of-home placements up to 64 percent

MST breaks the cycle of criminal behavior by keeping kids at home, in school and out of trouble.

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