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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

Multisystemic therapy (MST)

Multisystemic therapy (MST) image

Multisystemic therapy (MST) is an intensive family and community-based intervention that targets the multiple causes of antisocial behavior in young people who, without intervention, could be at risk of being placed into local authority care or at risk of custody or secure care.

What is MST?

MST adopts a social-ecological approach to understanding problematic behaviours in young people. Viewing the individual as being surrounded by a network of interconnected systems that include the young person themselves, their family as well as their peer group, school and wider neighbourhood.

In MST, parents and caregivers are viewed as the main instigators of change in the young person. Therefore, the ultimate goal of MST is to empower the family to take responsibility for making and maintaining positive changes in the young person’s behaviour.

Access a leaflet on Multisystemic Therapy (MST) [PDF]

MST in Scotland

There are currently four MST teams in Scotland across two sites (Edinburgh City Council and Fife Council). NHS Education for Scotland (NES) have come together in partnership with MST UK and Ireland (MST UK and I) now employ a full time MST Consultant and Programme Lead for Scotland.

The aim of this post in addition to providing consultation and quality assurance to the current MST teams is to offer centralised support for NHS Boards, Local Authority partnerships and service providers in Scotland that wish to improve outcomes for young people who are looked after at home and reduce the numbers of young people who become looked after and accommodated.

The Scottish Consultant links directly into the UK Network Partnership which offers the advantage of integration into Scottish policy and national planning whilst also being part of the MST quality assurance system within the UK Network Partnership.

Research and evaluation

MST has an evidence base that spans over 30 years and includes numerous Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) completed both within the US and across Europe. The majority of studies show positive and sustainable outcomes for MST compared to management as usual.

Following a rigorous assessment and evaluation process, standard MST, MST for Child Abuse & Neglect (CAN) and MST for Problem Sexual Behaviour (PSB) were all found to improve outcomes for children and young people, and have therefore been included in The Early Intervention Foundation’s Guidebook - an online resource for those who wish to find out more about how to commission and deliver effective Early intervention.

*MST has been adapted for different populations and includes MST for Child Abuse & Neglect (MST-CAN) and MST for Family Integrated Transitions (MST-FIT). Please visit the Multisystemic Therapy (UK and Ireland) website for more information.

Find out more about MST research in the UK.

Finding from across the UK

Research and audit data from the MST teams based across the UK shows that it is possible to replicate the positive results. 

MST training

MST UK and I is dedicated to helping agencies implement MST with full integrity to the treatment model. All therapists and supervisors working in a licenced MST team are required to attend a five-day MST orientation training course. Supervisors also attend an additional two-day supervisor orientation training course.

Because of the complexity of this treatment protocol, training is not offered to individuals without their membership in a licensed MST treatment programme.

For further information about MST training, please contact:

Developing an MST programme

The MST UK and I team will guide you through the stages of the MST site development process which covers the following areas:

  • needs analysis of local population
  • funding and sustainability
  • MST model fidelity requirements
  • stakeholder collaboration and support
  • recruitment and training
  • ongoing quality assurance

For more information about the setup process

Related documents

Access a leaflet on Multisystemic Therapy (MST) [PDF]

External links


Contact us

For more information about MST in Scotland please contact us at or visit:

Last updated: 27/09/2020

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