Multisystemic Therapy

Multisystemic Therapy Model Information

MST Outcomes

Provider Resources

Implementation Resources


DHS-Related Resources for EBIs

This page features resources related to Special Grant funding, accessing and utilizing M.A. funding (including Frequently Asked Questions, key contacts, and a list of Health Choices Behavioral Health Primary Contractors), and the Juvenile Justice Systems Enhancement Strategy. These resources are Pennsylvania-specific.

  • Starting Services Quickly
    A resource for MST providers and stakeholders who are looking to decrease wait time for at risk youth and families.
  • MST and D & A-Questions and Answers
    Guidelines developed by the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse regarding the use of MST with youth who also present with substance use.
  • Prescribing for MST
    An article published in The Pennsylvania Psychologist (May 2011) that provides an overview of the MST model and the target population. Written for psychologists and psychiatrists conducting BHRS evaluations.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive family and community-based treatment that addresses the multiple determinants of serious antisocial behavior in chronic, violent, or substance abusing male or female juvenile offenders, ages 12 to 17, at high risk of out-of-home placement. The multisystemic approach views individuals as nested within a network of interconnected systems that encompass individual, family, and extra-familial (peer, school, neighborhood) factors. Intervention may be necessary in any one or a combination of these systems. The primary goals of MST programs are to decrease rates of antisocial behavior and other clinical problems, improve functioning (e.g., family relations, school performance), and promote behavior change in the youth’s natural environment. These outcomes are achieved at a cost savings by reducing the use of out-of-home placements such as incarceration, residential treatment, and hospitalization. The ultimate goal of MST is to empower families to build a healthier environment through the mobilization of existing child, family, and community strengths and resources. The typical duration of home-based MST services is approximately 4 months, with multiple therapist-family contacts occurring weekly. MST addresses risk factors in an individualized, comprehensive, and integrated fashion, allowing families to enhance protective factors. Specific treatment techniques used to facilitate these gains are based on empirically supported therapies, including behavioral, cognitive behavioral, and pragmatic family therapies.  Proven outcomes of MST include:

  • reduced long-term rates of criminal offending in serious juvenile offenders,
  • reduced rates of out-of-home placements for serious juvenile offenders,
  • extensive improvements in family functioning,
  • decreased behavior and mental health problems for serious juvenile offenders,
  • favorable outcomes at cost savings in comparison with usual mental health and juvenile justice services,
  • decreased recidivism and arrests.

National Site: Multisystemic Therapy