Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)

Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is a comprehensive and multi-systemic family-based outpatient or partial hospitalization (day treatment) program for substance-abusing adolescents, adolescents with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders, and those at high risk for continued substance abuse and other problem behaviors such as conduct disorder and delinquency. Working with the individual youth and his or her family, MDFT helps the youth develop more effective coping and problem-solving skills for better decision making and helps the family improve interpersonal functioning as a protective factor against substance abuse and related problems.

Delivered across a flexible series of 12 to 16 weekly or twice weekly 60- to 90-minute sessions, MDFT is a manual-driven intervention with specific assessment and treatment modules that target four areas of social interaction: (1) the youth’s interpersonal functioning with parents and peers, (2) the parents’ parenting practices and level of adult functioning independent of their parenting role, (3) parent-adolescent interactions in therapy sessions, and (4) communication between family members and key social systems (e.g., school, child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice).

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