According to a University of Missouri professor who pioneered an evidence-based treatment called Multisystemic Therapy (MST), the treatment continues to have positive effects on former juvenile offenders more than 20 years after treatment.

MST differs from individual therapy in that it involves the juvenile offender’s entire family as well as the community. It is used as a way to prevent serious mental health problems in children and adolescents.

Charles Borduin, who developed MST, followed up with clinical trial participants who had completed treatment on average 22 years earlier. Among his findings:

Violent felonies: Since completing treatment, 4.3 percent of juveniles treated with MST were arrested for a violent felony, compared to 15.5 percent of individual therapy participants.

  • All felonies: Overall, 34.8 percent of MST participants committed a felony, compared to 54.8 percent of individual therapy participants.
  • Misdemeanors: MST participants committed five times fewer misdemeanors than individual therapy participants.
  • Family problems: Individual therapy participants were involved in family-related civil suits two times more often than MST participants.

“This research shows that Multisystemic Therapy has long-lasting effects,” said Borduin. “Nearly 22 years after treatment, juvenile offenders treated with MST still see positive effects. This treatment has protected many potential victims, and I hope this research helps to encourage further use of the method.”

Source: Missouri University

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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