Episode 201 - Dr. Steven Halady, Erin DeWolfe, and Jessica Bonczar: Multisystemic Therapy: A Strengths-Based, Collaborative Approach for Working with Negative Adolescent Behaviors

Monday, October 10, 2016, 7:57:48 AM

Image of Dr. Steven Halady, Erin DeWolfe, and 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.

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Average Rating: 4.7 stars (7 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  extremely informative!, Sunday, February 14, 2021

By Sarah Hollingsworth :

This podcast provided a wealth of information in a very coherent and cohesive manner. All of the interviewees explained MST in a way which the listener did not require any background or experience in MST to understand the concepts presented. The interview ran very smoothly, and all the important questions were not only asked, but answered. After listening to this podcast, I feel like I have quite a sound understanding of MST, which I did not feel I had before. I was extremely impressed by the professionalism of the interviewees and the wealth of knowledge they were able to share about MST in such a brief period of time. I am also very intrigued by the success of MST and the structure of how it is run. Before listening to this podcast, I did not realize that MST was a short but highly intensive intervention, provided to clients and families within their own environment. I think this is truly what sets MST apart from other modalities of therapy, and also speaks to the very high success rate which MST boasts about. I believe these high success rates can be in large part attributed to the amount of communication that MST provides within all ecological systems of the client/family. By using this approach, all treatment team members, family members, school personnel, probation officers, etc. are all on the same page, and are all aware of the goals in which the client/family is working towards, so that each member of the client's system can play an integral role in helping the client/family not only reach their goals within 3-5 weeks, but more importantly be able to then take what they have learned through MST, and apply it within their own environments on their own—hopefully is a sustainable way.
I am very pleased I had the opportunity to listen to this podcast and for the thorough information in which it provided.
Thank you!

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Average Rating: 5stars  innovative approach, leaving me thinking, Tuesday, February 04, 2020

By M Selbst :

MST is an ecological, short term, solutions focused practice designed to support families of at-risk youth. MST is a highly structured, evidence-based practice grounded in an ecological framework. I think most social workers would at least pay lip service to a person-in-environment approach to working with clients, but it seems very modalities actually work with the whole system. Within MST, clinicians use a structured analytic process to case analysis (case conceptualization, assessment, planning) to empower families to enact meaningful change. The work is intensive and personalized, with each family receiving 60 to 90 minute sessions 2 to 3 times per week; the work is done entirely in the field, with at least one session per week happening in the home. MST also engages community stakeholders and hopes to help teach, practice, and support families with new relationship-building skills that are generalizable to other areas of their lives. MST is in line with principles of Trauma-Informed Care, particularly in the areas of Trust and Empowerment. The clinician serves as more of a coach who “walks alongside” families to figure out approaches that work for them. This is a short-term intervention, and after 3-5 months, the family is left with a sustainability plan, which contributes to the success of the intervention. MST touts its high success rates, but I did wonder about attrition rate. What happens to families that terminate services early? Are clients every terminated by the agency for failure to adhere to the prescribed structure? I wondered if, like the corporate charter movement, such an intense and demanding intervention might skim the most motivated and capable clients from the top. Despite these concerns, this was a fascinating look at a modality of treatment I had never heard of and is worth a listen for anyone who works with youth and families.

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Average Rating: 5stars  very informative, Monday, February 05, 2018

By Ziv Noam :

As someone who has worked with children and adolescents who had behavior problems in the past, I found this podcast on MST to be very informative. Multysystemic therapy gets the parents involved with the intervention of the individual as well as the social worker, which I believe can be very beneficial as the child gets more support and it can be helpful to determine where the behavior is coming from and how to prevent future violent behaviors. I like how the family itself is more in the lead in MST because it gives the parents a more active role in the improvement of their child.

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Average Rating: 3stars  sw521- boser , Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By Lilly S :

As an individual with an array of systems in my life I understand how they can have great impacts, and be quite influential in one’s life. I appreciate Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and its incorporation of not just an adolescent and their family, but also the other systems in their lives such as school and their community. One aspect of MST which I found to be extremely important is its push to empower parents to help their children lead meaningful and healthy lives. This involves parental involvement throughout the process. This is important because when professionals take a step back parents are the ones who will need to continue to implement behavioral intervenes and make necessary contacts.

In my opinion MST is so beneficial to adolescents because of how easily influenced they are by those around them. I think that it is important to note that as Dr. Halady explains, although MST is an evidence based model, it is not a “cookie cutter” practice and has a lot of versatility between clients. For example the implementation of intervenes and the adaptations made to the interventions to best fit a client’s situations.

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Average Rating: 5stars  mst review, Sunday, February 12, 2017

By BriannaR :

This was a very informative podcast about Multisystemic therapy. I thought it was great to have a collaborative group talk about MST because it really shows the effectiveness and different aspects MST takes on. While I personally do not utilize MST at my current job I can still relate to the in environment aspects and focus. I work with individuals that have developmental disabilities in their home and out in the community which has become an asset to me and my job performance. It shows you that person in their rawest form. This then helps to form the therapeutic relationship as mentioned in the podcast, maybe even a little faster than in a clinical setting. I believe meeting the person where they are at in their environment helps you as the social worker to be more present and it seems to be the experience of MST from what I heard from this podcast.
I really liked the focus on safety, trustworthiness, flexibility, and empowerment throughout this model. These are all really important aspects of successful social work. It seems that Catholic Charities does a really good job at instilling this in their workers and clients. The amount of supervision and collaborative efforts behind MST is also commendable. I think it is great that there is follow up care to ensure the families are doing well and the support is there as needed. While this may be hard for some individuals and their families to recognize, only spending that short period of time and giving them the skills they need can sometimes be more effective. As mentioned, it really empowers the client and that is one of the best things about social work.
Overall, this podcast has opened my eyes to the important of meeting the person where they are at, the importance of incorporating the clients networks, and collaboration.

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Average Rating: 5stars  mst- strengths and benefits for families , Thursday, February 09, 2017

By HeidiEpt :

This review certainly illuminated the strengths and benefits of MST. As someone who has worked with adolescents, particularly in the school setting, I can appreciate the person in environment focus that MST takes. So often I have witnessed parents, educators, or even guidance counselors who are ignoring the effect that the many systems can have on an adolescent, especially considering their stage of development and therefore exacerbating the issues. It is encouraging that MST promotes flexibility, safety, collaboration, but mostly helps to place control back into the hands of the adolescent and their families. If implemented correctly MST seems to allow the worker the opportunity to be creative and individualized in the way they offer treatment and help.As a social work student I am pleased to hear that MST is well planned to help ensure success and plan for barriers. This is reassuring to a worker who is less experienced but feels passionately about working with this population.
The agency culture at Catholic Charities that was described in this podcast must also be noted. It is encouraging to hear that this agency promotes such self care and support of their workers in what is sure to be a challenging and exhausting position. The idea of applying systems level approach to self and organization is genius and can really help to identify ways in which other levels of the system are challenging or promoting success for the worker. Finally with supportive supervision and teamwork, it seems that the worker is not punished for mistakes or setbacks but encouraged to share these struggles with team members and supervisors in a way that allows reflection and re-approach.
Finally, I continue to wonder after this podcast what tips a MST worker might have for working with families (parents) or even systems (schools) that are reluctant or resistant to participating in this intervention.

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Average Rating: 5stars  multisystemic therapy, Saturday, February 04, 2017

By GL Ced :

This podcast was very informative and gave me so much insight into how MST works. It was inspiring to see that MST promotes a flexible, “whatever it takes” approach; workers were encouraged to meet families where they were at while meeting their own personal needs for self-care. I gained a thorough understanding of what contributes to the effectiveness of MST; workers have access to in depth supervision that allows them to collaboratively examine the different system impact a client. Further, I was inspired by how solution focused ideas were described in the podcast. Rather than trying to find who is to blame for the problems an adolescent is facing, MST works to engage with and support all persons in the adolescent's life, such as teachers, parents, and probation officers. This prompted me to consider how a worker might become distracted by looking for what is causing the problem, rather than working to solve the problem through engagement. I enjoyed how the speakers tied in principles of trauma-informed care; this included the client’s self-determination, involvement of the community, and the safety of the workers. To me, it was apparent that MST is very oriented in the principles of trauma-informed care; I felt that this contributed to the success workers observed in their practice.

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