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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


MST for Emerging Adults (MST-EA)
Adaptation of Multisystemic Therapy for Transition-Age Youth

‘Transition-age youth’ refers to young adults ages 16-25 that are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Like many young people, transition-age youth with serious mental health conditions (SMHC) get into trouble with the law; however, unlike the transitory nature of legal problems among other young people, criminal justice involvement tends to be a persistent problem for this group. Specifically, the majority of young adults with SMHC will be arrested by age 25, most with multiple arrests, and most for serious charges. Few treatments have focused on this age group and none have focused on emerging adults with both SMHC and criminal justice involvement. Development of interventions aimed at decreasing offending among these individuals has the potential to contribute substantially to the public good, as their behaviors pose significant risk for the individuals, their families, and society. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is among the strongest evidence-based treatments for reducing juvenile offending but has not been tested with youth older than 17 or with youth who have both justice system involvement and SMHC. The aim of this project is to adapt MST to serve transition-age youth with both SMHC and justice system involvement, using our knowledge of the causes of offending and desistance in adolescents and adults (both with and without SMHC) to determine targets for treatment.

This primary aim of this study is to develop MST-EA, a treatment to help emerging adults with SMHC and justice system involvement to decrease offending and increase their involvement in the normative activities of this age group (e.g., finishing school, beginning rewarding work, moving into their own housing, shifting to more adult-like relationships with their parents and peers). In addition to increasing positive transition-age role functioning, this approach seeks to reduce symptoms of SMHC. Additional study goals include determining the feasibility of this adapted intervention as well as examining factors that contribute to client engagement and the role of significant others in supporting behavior change.

For more information, please contact Maryann Davis (Principal Investigator) by phone at 508-856-8718, or by e-mail at

Principal Investigator
Maryann Davis, Ph.D.

MUSC Principal Investigator
Ashli J. Sheidow, Ph.D.

Michael McCart, Ph.D.
Scott W. Henggeler, Ph.D.

Funding Agencies
National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH)

Connecticut Department of Children and Families

Project Number

Research Partners
Center for Mental Health Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School

North American Family Institute (NAFI)

Start Date - End Date
September 2007 - July 2011



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