ASHLI J.SHEIDOW, PhD
SCOTT W.HENGGELER, PhD
SONJA K.SCHOENWALD, PhD
Family Services Research Center
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina
Multisystemic therapy is a family-based treatment with empirical support for effectively treating chronic behavior problems and serious emotional disturbances in adolescents. The multisystemic therapy treatment model also has research support for treating juvenile sex offending and child maltreatment. Utilizing an ecological conceptualization of youth problems, individualized assessment and treatment planning, and integration of evidence-based techniques, multisystemic therapy addresses risk and protective factors comprehensively, using strong quality-assurance mechanisms. This chapter presents the history and origins of multisystemic therapy, the theoretical and empirical bases of the treatment model, a summary of the clinical treatment model, and a synopsis of research outcomes.
The clinical procedures that have come to define multisystemic therapy (MST) were first used by Scott Henggeler and a cadre of talented doctoral students in clinical psychology at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in the late 1970s. Henggeler had obtained a modest amount of extramural funding to develop a treatment program for juvenile offenders, diverted from the juvenile justice system. The funding was used to pay the stipends of doctoral students who served as therapists, and graduate and undergraduate students were recruited as research assistants. In a quasi-experimental design, the project was conducted for several years, and the findings of the first MST outcome study were published in 1986 (Henggeler et al., 1986).