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Family Preservation Using Multisystemic Therapy: An Effective Alternative to Incarcerating Serious Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology Volume: 60 Issue: 6 Dated: December 1992 Pages: 953-961
Date Published
December 1992
9 pages

In treating 84 serious juvenile offenders and their multi-problem families, this study compared the effectiveness of multisystemic therapy (MST) delivered through a community mental health center with usual services delivered by a Department of Youth Services.


The juvenile offenders were randomly assigned to treatment conditions. Pre-treatment and post-treatment assessment batteries that evaluated family relations, peer relations, symptomatology, social competence, and self-reported delinquency were completed by the youth and a parent; and archival records were searched at 59 weeks post-referral to obtain data on rearrest and incarceration. Compared with youths who received usual services, youths who received MST had fewer arrests and self-reported offenses and spent an average of 10 fewer weeks incarcerated. In addition, families in the MST condition reported increased family cohesion and decreased youth aggression in peer relations. The relative effectiveness of MST was neither moderated by demographic characteristics nor mediated by psychosocial variables. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: December 1, 1992