Multisystemic Treatment of Serious Juvenile Offenders and Their Families
Scott W. Henggeler and Charles A. Borduin
Multisystemic therapy ( Henggeler & Borduin, 1990) is a family-based therapeutic approach that has been viewed as a highly promising treatment for complex psychosocial problems in children and adolescents (see Culbertson, 1990; Miller & Prinz, 1990). This chapter discusses the application of multi- systemic therapy to the treatment of serious juvenile offenders and their multiproblem families. In our discussion, we address the empirical rationale for the application of this particular therapy as well as the clinical features of multisystemic therapy that make it especially well suited for treating antisocial behavior in adolescents. More specifically, we address the following issues: (1) we show that serious juvenile offenders experience numerous psychosocial difficulties and present significant problems to their communities and that there is a dire need to develop effective interventions for such offenders and their families; (2) we show that there are multiple correlates and causes of delinquency and that the key correlates pertain to characteristics of the social systems (i.e., family, peers, school) in which these offenders are involved; (3) we argue that the identified correlates of delinquency are consistent with a social-ecological model of behavior, which represents the theoretical foundation of multisystemic therapy; (4) we summarize findings from controlled evaluations of multisystemic therapy and argue that the efficacy of multisystemic therapy is largely due to its consideration of the multiple factors associated with delinquency; and (5) we provide a brief description of the clinical features of multisystemic therapy and delineate nine principles for designing multisystemic interventions.