23 August 2021

Multisystemic Therapy in Australia.

Image: enage male sitting outside using his phone. He has dark shorts on, a white t-shirt, sunglasses and a backwards cap.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a family and home-based treatment striving to change how young people function at home, school and within the neighbourhood, promoting positive behaviour and decreasing anti-social behaviour. MST aims to reduce youth offending and re-offending, as well as other types of anti-social behaviour, such as drug abuse. In doing so, it aims to decrease rates of placement in custody and out-of-home foster care placement.

Life Without Barriers is the Australasian Network Partner for Multisystemic Therapy Services across Australia and New Zealand. Below are some success stories and testimonials about the program and the families it has helped.

Hailey makes a change.

Hailey* lashed out when her mother, Tanya, went to prison and was convicted of multiple property and drug offences. Sadly, Hailey stopped attended school for two years and started to use methamphetamines regularly.

When Tanya was released from prison, she was determined to be a better mother so that Hailey and her sister would not follow in her footsteps.

Supported by the MST Clinician, Tanya addressed Hailey’s offending and drug use using incentives and consequences. Tanya and the Clinician also worked to connect Hailey with pro-social peers.

By the end of the program, Hailey had settled back into school, her drug use had reduced, and Tanya and Hailey were much closer.

Elijah’s journey.

Elijah* entered the foster care system at a young age and moved through successive placements in kinship care, foster care, and residential care. At age 13, he moved in with his father whom, at the time, he had no real relationship with.

Elijah’s feelings of rejection were expressed through violent outbursts, leading to assault charges and expulsion from two schools. Elijah also stole from family members and stayed out late without his father’s permission.

The MST Clinician coached his father on de-escalation techniques and helped him create incentives and consequences to re-shape Elijah’s behaviour. His father also worked on improving communication with his son and connecting Elijah with positive peers.

At time of exit from MST, Elijah’s violence had ceased, and he was respecting family rules. Life Without Barriers’ Education Unit is now working towards entry to a flexi-school, using evidence of Elijah’s improved behaviour.

Jayden gets the support he needs.

Jayden* dropped out of high school, slept rough most nights, and was consuming drugs and alcohol daily. He was also convicted of dealing drugs, theft and breaking into cars. Jayden’s parents were separated but both parents were willing to engage with the MST program to get their son back on track.

Jayden’s parents implemented strategies to reduce his cannabis use, including room sweeps, better monitoring of his whereabouts and use of money, and encouraging more time with family. He was also offered incentives to re-engage with education.

By the time of MST exit, Jayden had completed Term 1 at a flexi-school with 80% attendance and had abstained from cannabis for up to week at a time. He had found new pro-social friends who naturally supported and reinforced his non-offending behaviour and his offending had ceased!

Testimonials of Life Without Barriers Multisystemic Therapy

“MST was a positive experience for myself and family. As a parent I learnt more about myself and developmental skills to approach my parenting in a more positive, open manner. I now have a higher understanding of healthy boundaries and that it is okay for my child to not like them, it doesn’t mean our relationship suffers.” Life Without Barriers’ Multisystemic Therapy participant.

“From when I received my first phone call from Karlie just prior to Christmas 2019 to today, myself & my son Adam and our family have been through some extremely challenging experiences, some positive and some negative. It has been with Karlie’s guidance, knowledge, resourcefulness, encouragement, and humour that we have been able to complete the program, in a lot better place than when we began six months ago. Although I had the technical theory and the knowledge of the tools required to hold Adam & myself accountable for his behaviour, I lacked the ability to apply what I do at work every day to my home environment.” Life Without Barriers’ Multisystemic Therapy participant.

“I’m really enjoying it. We were in crisis before we met Ben and although only at week four, there is already a difference. He is a great fit for our family.” Life Without Barriers’ Multisystemic Therapy participant.

*All names changed.

Child, Youth and Family

Our Foster Care, residential care and after care services provide a safe and supportive environment where they can heal and grow.

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