Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is an integrated, comprehensive, family-centered treatment for adolescents ages 11 to 18 substance use, delinquency, and related behavioral and emotional problems. MDFT therapists focuses on 4 key areas of the adolescent’s life: the adolescent, parent, family, and community. Therapy sessions are held alone with the youth, alone with the parents, and with youth and parents together. Once youth and parent motivation are enhanced, the therapist will focus on facilitating behavioral and interactional changes. In the final stage, MDFT works to solidify those changes.

For at-risk and early intervention, therapists typically provide 1-2 sessions per week, with sessions lasting between 45 and 90 minutes. More severe cases will require sessions 1- 3 times per week (average of 2) with each session lasting 45-90 minutes. The dose is more intense in the first third of treatment and is gradually reduced to 1 session per week during the last 4-6 weeks. Recommended duration is 3-4 months for at-risk and early intervention youth and families. 5-6 months for youth with a substance abuse and/or conduct disorder diagnosis. MDFT can be conducted in the family home, hospital, community-based agency, residential care, school-setting, or justice setting. MDFT has materials in English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish.

Improve youth emotional regulation, coping, and problem-solving skills; Improve youth expressive and communication skills; Promote youth success in school/work; Reduce youth substance use and problem behaviors; Improve and stabilize youth mental health; Improve parenting skills and practices; Enhance parents individual functioning; Improve family communication and problem-solving skills; Strengthen emotional attachments and feelings of love and connection among family members; Build family member capacity to actively reach out to access and actualize needed resources necessary for stress reduction or daily life needs.