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Helping a Family Start Afresh

For the longest time, Addie felt helpless as she watched her daughter begin to make poor decisions. Her daughter, 15, engaged in cutting, drugs and promiscuity. No matter how hard she tried, she could not prevent her daughter from making undesirable choices and that left her and her husband, Jason, feeling as if they had failed as parents. Just when it had seemed that all was lost, her daughter's counselor suggested Catholic Charities' Multisystemic Therapy (MST) program.

MST is an intensive, family-focused intervention, serving families of youths ages 12-17 who are at risk of formal Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) action or being placed outside of their home.

Jason was not very receptive to the idea of a stranger coming into his home and telling them what they were doing wrong, so he was surprised when their therapist instead "helped [them] to find out what was going wrong and ways to fix it," according to Addie.

Meg, their therapist, first asked them to set ground rules, including rewards and consequences. Children need consistency, and establishing these parameters serves as a strong foundation for good behavior to build upon.

Addie and Jason learned that the lack of communication between them was also an issue. Addie said, "Meg encouraged us to communicate better and to work as a team. Having set expectations, rewards and consequences not only helped the kids but also helped Jason. He has become a huge support for me and now takes a more active role in parenting."

She added, "I truly believe that MST has made a big difference in my family's life. I feel confident that if we stick to what Meg taught us, through MST, we will be able to handle problems as they arise. My husband and I feel that MST is a wonderful program and we are grateful for all that it has done to improve our family and strengthen us as a team."