Family preservation using multisystemic therapy: an effective alternative to incarcerating serious juvenile offenders

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1992 Dec;60(6):953-61. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.60.6.953.


Multisystemic therapy (MST) delivered through a community mental health center was compared with usual services delivered by a Department of Youth Services in the treatment of 84 serious juvenile offenders and their multiproblem families. Offenders were assigned randomly to treatment conditions. Pretreatment and posttreatment assessment batteries evaluating 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 postreferral to obtain data on rearrest and incarceration. In comparison 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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Juvenile Delinquency / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Prisons*
  • Recurrence