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Commitment to Fidelity

Fidelity to the MST model is key to success

Thirty years of study have proven that MST works in keeping chronic and violent youths at home, in school and out of trouble. For MST interventions to achieve the best results, its therapeutic principals and processes must be followed.

Putting MST into practice is much like a doctor performing exactly and precisely the steps of a bypass surgery, from prep to patient recovery.  

Similarly, MST involves steps that must be followed with fidelity if the positive outcomes shown in studies and rigorous tests over three decades are to be achieved.

MST Services’ quality-assurance system provides multiple layers of clinical and program support and ongoing feedback to ensure that providers faithfully implement MST.

Short cuts just don’t work. They deteriorate the success rate. For example, caseloads must be kept low so that teams and supervisors can devote all the time necessary to each youth and family. Adding more cases dilutes that time, and everyone loses. Ongoing training is also a critical component to staying true to the model. And only youths who are in the MST target population—hard-core offenders—should be included in treatment.

In randomized trials of MST, greater therapist adherence predicted reductions in:

  • youth arrests
  • days incarcerated
  • soft drug use
  • aggression

And improvements in:

  • family functioning
  • parenting practices

These findings held up across 45 sites in the MST Transportability Study. That study also showed links between consultant adherence, supervisor adherence, therapist adherence, and youth outcomes.

There is solid evidence that MST is highly effective—if it is followed with fidelity.

Download a detailed version of MST's quality assurance program