Dr. Steven Halady, Erin DeWolfe, and Jessica Bonczar

Multisystemic Therapy: A Strengths-Based, Collaborative Approach for Working with Negative Adolescent Behaviors

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“[In] the code of the ethics one of the principles reads ‘social workers promote clients socially responsible self-determination, social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs,’ and that, I think, is a wonderful description of the overall goals of MST as well. We work with vulnerable populations; we work with families with adolescents who are the at highest level of risk of placement in foster care or placement in the criminal justice system, and our main goal is to really to help them stabilize their families, to stabilize their lives, and to build stronger and healthier relationships with their kids, with extended family, with schools, with the criminal justice system, and so forth.”

Dr. Steven Halady, Erin DeWolfe, & Jessica Bonczar


Anyone working with the disruptive behaviors of a challenging adolescent understands just how difficult that work can be. When these problematic behaviors are present, successful resolution may require involvement from several of a child’s networks. Multisystemic therapy (MST) is an intensive intervention that works with the adolescent and their family, while also engaging the other important systems in the child’s life. In this episode, Dr. Steven Halady, Erin DeWolfe, and Jessica Bonczar describe what MST is and how its ecological foundation informs and directs its application.

Steven Halady, PhD, LMSW, is an MST therapist with Catholic Charities of Buffalo. Prior to becoming a social worker, he completed a doctorate in philosophy at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, with his research focusing on questions of human identify and diversity and the philosophy of race. In 2013, he left full-time academia and began work on an MSW, which he completed in 2015. A long time educator, Steven has taught at the university level for over a decade. His teaching experience includes courses on the theory and application of ethics and justice, human identity and diversity, philosophy of science, the history of philosophy, and world civilizations. As a part-time instructor with the online MSW program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Steven has taught field seminars and human behavior in the social environment.​

Erin DeWolfe, LCSW, received her master’s in social work from UB in 2004 and went to work immediately as a multisystemic therapist in Niagara Falls. In 2008, she was promoted to supervisor for a new team in Erie County, Juvenile Justice/Substance Abuse- MST. She has remained in this position for the past 8 years. Prior to MST, her concentration in graduate school was with children and youth. Because of her cumulative experience in the field, her special interests have grown to include social policy and reform, community advocacy, educational advocacy, and intense work with adults.

Jessica Bonczar, LMHC, received her master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Canisius College and is presently a candidate for a doctorate in clinical psychology. She has served in her role as Social Worker III at Catholic Charities for three and a half years. Her past experience includes work with a residential program at Baker Victory Services and a therapeutic preschool.

Interviewer: Julie Hasselbeck, MSW

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