Multisystemic Therapy – Prevention

Mental Health Substance Use Prevention or Treatment In-home Parent Skill-Based Does Not Currently Meet Criteria

Multisystemic Therapy – Prevention (MST-PRV) is an adaptation of Multisystemic Therapy (MST) designed for families with youth ages 10–17 who are at risk of abuse or neglect. MST-PRV enhancements are intended to specifically address the needs of children and families referred from the child welfare system. Families referred to MST-PRV may be experiencing youth behavioral challenges such as substance use and caregiver challenges parenting the youth. MST-PRV aims to (1) decrease the risk that youth will become more deeply involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems and (2) prevent abuse or neglect. MST-PRV adds two key team members to the standard MST model: (1) a Family Resource Caseworker, who collaborates with the therapist to help families navigate the public assistance system and meet basic needs and (2) a full-time supervisor who provides support and oversight for the therapist and caseworker.  


During initial sessions, an MST-PRV therapist explains the concept of the MST team and how the therapist and Family Resource Caseworker work together. A therapist and Family Resource Caseworker schedule an initial joint meeting with the family to discuss the assessments that the Family Resource Caseworker will conduct. Most subsequent sessions are held individually with either the therapist, who focuses on clinical goals, or the Family Resource Caseworker, who focuses on casework concerns. 


A comprehensive assessment process ensures that treatment plans are tailored to the needs of each family. The MST-PRV team uses assessment tools to examine desired outcomes and goals, physical safety needs, family basic needs (e.g., food, clothing, and housing), social supports, and youth strengths and difficulties. The Family Resource Caseworker conducts the practical needs assessment and monitors goals weekly using the standard MST analytical process. Therapists then use information from the assessments to determine which interventions and services are appropriate for the family. Interventions may include family therapy to reduce conflict and set up clear boundaries, cognitive behavior strategies aimed at reducing negative perceptions, family communication exercises, assignments to increase quality time spent together, and parental strategies to support the youth’s peer relationships.   

MST-PRV does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies met eligibility criteria for review.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Sep 2022


The program or service description, target population, and program and service delivery and implementation information were informed by the following sources: the program or service manual and the program or service developer’s website. 

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

MST-PRV provides services to families with youth ages 10–17 referred from the child welfare system who are at risk of abuse or neglect. Families referred to MST-PRV may be experiencing youth behavioral challenges and caregiver challenges parenting the youth.  


Program dosage varies based on youth and family needs. A treatment team of two to four therapists is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to provide services. Initial assessments take place over several days. Therapists and Family Resource Caseworkers provide services over a period of 3–5 months. Therapists each have caseloads of four to six families.  

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

MST-PRV can be delivered in the home, school, or community.  

Education, Certifications and Training

Therapists who are part of licensed MST teams and organizations deliver MST-PRV in collaboration with Family Resource Caseworkers. MST therapists typically have master’s degrees in social work, psychology, counseling, or marriage and family therapy. Most supervisors have a master’s or doctoral degree in social work, psychology, counseling, or marriage and family therapy. 

MST therapists, supervisors, and other staff must first complete a 5-day training provided by Ph.D. and master’s level mental-health specialists. The training includes teaching, role-playing, and other exercises designed to develop skills used in the treatment process and to provide opportunities to practice using MST assessment strategies. The training also aims to familiarize therapists with the theory underlying the MST model, the causes of serious behavior problems that MST can address, the strategies MST teams use to build collaborative relationships with stakeholder agencies in the community, and the therapists’ role in continuous quality improvement. Therapists that deliver MST also participate in on-the-job learning, including weekly structured supervision and feedback from an on-site MST supervisor. At least once per month, the MST supervisor also reviews a recording or conducts a field visit to assess the Family Resource Caseworkers’ skills, provide feedback, and identify any needs to target in a development plan. 

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

The MST-Prevention Manual is implemented in conjunction with the Multisystemic Therapy for Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents Manual. 

Brunk, M., & Henggeler, S. (2020). MST-Prevention Manual – Enhancing Multisystemic Therapy® to address needs of child welfare prevention services. MST Services. 

Henggeler, S. W., Schoenwald, S. K., Borduin, C. M., & Rowland, M. D. (2009). Multisystemic therapy for antisocial behavior in children and adolescents (2nd Ed.). The Guilford Press. 

Available languages

MST-PRV materials are available in English. 

Other supporting materials

MST Orientation Training 

For More Information


Phone: (843) 856-8226 


Note: The details on Dosage; Location; Education, Certifications, and Training; Other Supporting Materials; and For More Information sections above are provided to website users for informational purposes only. This information is not exhaustive and may be subject to change.

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Multisystemic Therapy – Prevention
Identified in Search 0
Eligible for Review 0
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 0
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0