Multisystemic Therapy Information for Families

Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) is a home based intervention that helps families address the multiple causes of serious anti-social behaviour in their young person. We work with young people aged 11 – 16 years who are living at home and experiencing behavioural difficulties such as:

  • Truancy and academic problems
  • Serious disrespect and disobedience
  • Aggressive behaviour (violence, fighting, property destruction)
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Running away
  • Other high risk behaviours e.g. self harm

MST examines all the systems in a young person’s life, such as school, peers, family and community in order to understand where problems are occurring and how best they might be solved. The MST therapist will then help your family to set goals to work towards, for example, helping your child get back into school or reducing aggressive behaviour.

The MST therapist will then come to visit you at home, usually about two or three times a week as part of supporting you to reach the goals you have set. At other times, the therapist might be in contact over the phone and a therapist is available for your family to contact seven days a week.

MST lasts about 3 to 5 months depending on what help is needed and the interventions are typically aimed at providing you as parents the skills and resources you will need to address your child’s behavioural difficulties. The MST Therapist will mainly work with you when deciding what needs to happen and typically they might look at how to:

  • Improve your ability to get your child to follow rules and listen to you
  • Improve your management of disobedience and aggressive behaviour
  • Enhance family relations
  • Increase your child’s association with prosocial peers
  • Improve your child’s school or vocational performance
  • Decrease drug and alcohol use and criminal behaviour

The therapist will also work to engage other people in your child’s environment, such as extended family, teachers, peers and community members and work towards helping your family develop ongoing relationships with these people in order to maintain any changes in the long term. Most of all the therapist is there to meet your goals for your family and empower you to meet those goals so your child can have a better relationships at home, in school and with positive friends.

Below are some of the things which parents and young people involved with MST have had to say:

'Nice to know someone is on the end of the phone, I don't always use it but I feel more confident trying stuff knowing it's there.' (Parent)

'Everybody else has wanted to dip into my past and I've felt blamed.  The difference is I don't feel criticised or blamed with MST.' (Parent)

'We have less to argue about now, everything is calmer now in the house we are not as stressed out and feel more in control.' (Parent)

Young Person on Parent: 'I think my mum was on the verge of giving up, she couldn't really be bothered and we'd just argue and I'd explode but now it's much better...I'd say that my Mum's got more confidence.'

Young Person on themselves: 'You think...look how worried your Dad is. And like, now I am in the house more often, I ring my dad when I'm out...'

For more information please contact:

MST Service Delivery Manager and Supervisor
Dr. Tina Goodson: - 0151 637 6083

MST Therapists
Ela Kawka: – 0151 637 6266
Colette Kell: – 0151 637 6142
Lisa Buckley: – 0151 637 6060

MST Admin Support Worker
Lizzie Jones: – 0151 637 6136