Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST)

​Click here for full service definition information in the Clinical Coverage Policy.​

Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) is a time-limited team approach designed for youth who have significant behavior problems and frequently engage in willful misconduct and/or illegal activities. The goal of MST is to maintain youth in their home environment by using intensive therapeutic and rehabilitative interventions with the youth and family within the home/school/community. Interventions are also available to address areas of specialized need (e.g., substance abuse, sexual abuse, youth who sexually harm, and domestic violence). Consumers have access to a variety of interventions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by staff who will maintain contact and intervene as one organizational unit. The duration of MST intervention is typically 3 to 5 months. MST also engages and coordinates care with other systems, such as the school, court counselors, and extended family members.

Intended Population 

  • Youth (ages 7-17) who have antisocial, aggressive/violent behaviors and are at risk for out-of-home placement due to a pattern of delinquent behavior; adjudicated youth returning from residential treatment; chronic or violent juvenile offenders; and/or youth with serious emotional disturbances or who are abusing substances and their families.

Recommended Best Practices

Expected Outcomes

  • MST Institute

  • The outcomes include but are not limited to: (a) youth has improved in domains such as adaptive skills, communication, psychosocial functioning, problem solving and behavior; (b) reduction/elimination of willful behavioral misconduct; (c) family has increased capacity to monitor and manage the youth's behavior; and (d) need for out of home placement has been reduced/eliminated.​

Management Approach

  • Authorization guidelines

  • Conduct focused Utilization Review (UR) of MST providers based upon over/under utilization, negative outcomes (e.g., high use of acute care or crisis services), concerning incidents and/or grievances, and other data suggesting a team's practices are an outlier compared to the community standard of care.