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MST outcomes data remains strong in 2015

5th December 2016

With 2016 drawing to a close, the Multisystemic Therapy (MST) 2015 outcome data is in. And the numbers look good. 

As an evidence based programme that works to keep at-risk young people out of trouble, at home and in school, achieving our goals is bigger than the MST organisation. Meeting our goals means helping children and families across the world live healthier, more productive lives.


This year, the data covers 12,915 cases that had an opportunity for a full course of treatment during 2015. When looking at these numbers, it is vital to realise that adolescents typically referred to MST have a very troubled history, often one that includes aggression, truancy, drinking alcohol and using drugs. Parents often feel without hope, since nothing they have tried previously worked. This same hopelessness makes many parents and caregivers wary when the MST therapist shows up at the doorstep. Would this be the same old, same old? 

How do you measure success? One way is by looking at how many cases actually completed a full course of treatment. Just why is this significant? It means the family and other involved parties such as parole officers, judges and school administrators feel the treatment is worth doing and the young person can be trusted in the community and home. That percentage turned out to be an impressive 87.8, with an average length of treatment at almost 130 days.

Obviously, getting a young person through the programme is not the only performance barometer. Add to that; does the young person stay out of trouble? At the time of discharge from the programme, 90.5 percent of MST graduates were still living at home. The percentage for those who were either in school or working came in at 85.6. And no further arrests was even better at 86.4 percent.

At home and no arrests were at eight-year highs, with the school and working outcome only slightly lower than 2014.

It’s not good enough for therapies to be effective in research settings, then fail to meet the needs of the family and community when practiced in real life. The MST model has been shown to work, but it can only work effectively when therapists adhere to it. Research backs that up—following the model results in long-term positive outcomes. It’s up to the MST Institute to assess whether therapists are delivering treatment at the same level of quality that was provided in the research studies. Families provide therapist adherence evaluations monthly. These are conveyed to supervisors and consultants so adjustments can be made immediately. 

Scores run from 0.00 to 1.00 with 0.61 being the lowest for reaching the desired outcomes. In 2015, MST therapists scored an average of .76. This is a testament to the way MST trains and supports its teams making it possible for them to consistently deliver a treatment that works for troubled youth.

These eye-opening and satisfying outcomes show MST truly helps families keep their children at home, in school and out of trouble. Read the full report here.