Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is one of 16 evidence-based practices currently being reviewed by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse as a mental health, substance abuse, and in-home parent skills based intervention that could potentially be IV-E funded under the Family First Act.
Date: February 18, 2020
Time: 1–3 p.m. EST
Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is an integrated, comprehensive, family-centered treatment for youth problems and disorders.
There are 7 treatment objectives for the MDFT Model:
- Treatment Engagement and Completion - Treatment dropout remains a challenge for many adolescent treatment programs. MDFT engages young people and their families and motivates them to enter and complete treatment.
- Family Functioning - MDFT enhances family functioning by avoiding fault finding and accessing the natural healing power of families in individual and family sessions at home, in the clinic, community, and at school.
- Substance Abuse - MDFT uses several methods, including adolescent-focused individual sessions and drug testing, to focus on the youth's drug use and dependence. Teen drug abuse treatment is more effective when it is built on strong evidence, is family-oriented, developmentally appropriate, and delivered by qualified healthcare professionals.
- School Performance - Parents and youths are coached about how to reestablish contact with school personnel and have productive meetings at school that focus on de-escalating conflict, action plans, next steps, and getting to positive outcomes in behavior and academic work. MDFT therapists develop an ongoing relationship with schools to troubleshoot problems and readjust interventions as needed.
- Criminal and Delinquent Behavior - MDFT promotes prosocial alternatives to delinquent behavior and works with members of the juvenile justice system to advocate for the teen and coordinate interventions.
- Family Stability - MDFT works to keep adolescents in the home and out of placements by strengthening parent-child relationships and developing new ways of resolving family problems.
- Mental Health Symptoms - MDFT reduces stress, depression, and anxiety by teaching adolescents new skills, and helping them see life in a new perspective with a fresh set of eyes.
MDFT has been researched and implemented:
- In drug abuse and mental health treatment settings including outpatient, in-home, intensive outpatient, day treatment, and residential
- Among adolescents in juvenile justice, drug court, and child welfare settings
- As a culturally-responsive and gender-sensitive approach across cultures and countries
- As an early intervention or preventative approach for young adolescents
- In urban and rural settings
MDFT is designed to serve youth that are/have:
- Between the ages of 9 and 26 (note that the treatment approach adjusts to different developmental and biological ages)
- At least one parent/guardian, or parental figure able to participate in treatment (Note that the parent/guardian can be another family member or adult. They may not always reside together, but the parental figure is a person of significant influence in the youth’s life).
- Not actively suicidal (ideation and plan) requiring immediate stabilization
- Not suffering from a psychotic disorder (unless temporary and due to drug use)
Individual MDFT programs can restrict program eligibility beyond these guidelines. For example, some programs are not able to serve people over the age of 18, and others do not have the capability to serve opiate users. MDFT International, Inc. will work with programs to help them find the best eligibility criteria for their particular circumstances.