The MST-FIT model is designed to address the barriers to a young person returning home, including difficulties in the parent-adolescent relationship, the young person and carer’s ability to manage negative emotions and communicate effectively, and increasing pro-social behaviour and involvement in school/training.
The programme was developed as an adaptation of multisystemic therapy (MST), a US-based intervention which uses principles of cognitive and behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness to help young offenders return home after a period of incarceration. The Family Integrated Transitions (MST-FIT) model uses standard MST principles with additional components to address the specific issues of young people returning home to their family or long-term carers.
The programme comprises two stages. First, the young person enters a 12-week therapeutic programme within a specialist MST-FIT residential home, where they take part in regular skills sessions and work towards an individualised set of goals. During this period, the parent begins work with the MST-FIT therapist within the family home. In the second stage, the young person returns to the family home, and the MST-FIT therapist continues to work with both the young person and the parent for a further four months.
The MST-FIT evaluation was part of a £4.1m Scaling Evidence-based Interventions grant to the National Implementation Service to increase the use of five evidence-based interventions in children’s services: KEEP, RESuLT, STEPS-B, MST-FIT and AdOpt.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that:
- Professionals considered the programme to be much needed.
- Families indicated a positive experience related to their relationship to MST therapists.
- Both professionals and parents felt that the skills taught as part of MST-FIT were transferrable, skills for life, useful to a variety of personal and professional situations, not just for returning to the family home.