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Multisystemic Therapy (MST), OzChild

Program theory/objectives

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) aims to reduce youth offending and re-offending and other types of anti-social behaviour, such as drug abuse. In doing so, it aims to decrease rates of placement in custody.

Objectives might include implementing curfew, clear boundaries, de-escalation, safety planning, and monitoring.

Target group

12 to 17 years old.

Young people who have possible substance abuse issues, who are at risk of out-of-home placement due to antisocial or delinquent behaviours and/or youth involved with the juvenile justice system.

Program components

MST therapists focus on collaborating with and empowering parents by using identified strengths to develop support systems and remove barriers to improve their capacity to function as effective parents.

MST typically uses a home-based intensive model of service delivery, in which therapists have small caseloads. Workers typically meet with clients two to three times a week, as well provide an on-call phone service for afterhours support. Average length of treatment is up to 60 hours delivered over four months.

The program is individually tailored and the family leads the goal setting. This often includes increasing links between school and home. It also encourages pro-social engagement and interaction (e.g. linking with local sports clubs).

The intervention incorporates empirically tested therapeutics styles and techniques including CBT and family therapy approaches.


In addition to the outcome measurements stipulated by program designers, OzChild additionally collects data from Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and reports to Youth Justice on different domains including prosocial activity.

OzChild will have an evaluation report completed after the end of financial year (2020).


OzChild is delivering MST to support young people who are subject to court-ordered Youth Justice supervision.

Young person must be in a permanent placement with a caregiver (i.e. cannot reside in residential care facility).


Young people are referred through Youth Justice case manager, who refers young person as being a suitable candidate for intensive family case management.



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