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Abstract: Multisystemic Therapy for Youths With Problem Sexual Behaviors

Although youths who engage in criminal and other problematic sexual behaviors consume much of the resources of the juvenile justice, mental health, and educational systems, few empirically supported interventions exist to treat these youths. Indeed, usual treatment approaches do not have the capacity to address the broad array of risk factors related to sexual offending in youths and do little to promote youths' competencies in real world settings. Multisystemic therapy (MST) is a family-based based treatment model that originally was developed for youths who commit nonsexual crimes and that more recently has been adapted to the treatment of youths who commit sexual crimes and other problem sexual behaviors (MST-PSB). This presentation will describe the empirical, theoretical, and clinical foundations of MST-PSB and will discuss findings from MST-PSB outcome studies and community-based dissemination efforts. The theoretical and clinical foundations of MST-PSB draw upon empirical research regarding the multidetermined nature of youth sexual offending as well as upon social-ecological models of behavior. In three randomized clinical trials, MST-PSB has had positive effects on key factors associated with sexual offending in youths and has demonstrated long-term, cost-beneficial reductions in criminal activity and incarceration. In addition, MST-PSB has been successfully transported (using a comprehensive quality assurance and improvement system) to approximately 40 sites in the United States, England, and the Netherlands. The clinical effectiveness and transportability of MST-PSB have important implications for the optimization of positive outcomes with sexually offending youths and their families and for the reform of current mental health services for these youths.


Charles M. Borduin, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri and Director of the Missouri Delinquency Project. He is the co-developer of multisystemic therapy for serious juvenile offenders (MST) and the developer of MST adaptations for problem sexual behavior youths (MST-PSB) and youths with autism spectrum disorders (MST-ASD). His research has been funded by various federal agencies in the United States, including the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Borduin has published more than 100 journal articles, chapters, and books on the development and validation of MST and other effective mental health services for children and their families. He has also served as a national and international consultant to government and private agencies on the reform of children’s mental health services.