Multi Systemic Therapy

Emerge Aotearoa's Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) service is a community-based programme that can help whānau with a young person's challenging behaviour.

The behaviour might include truancy, substance abuse, criminal offending, or self-harm. All of these can affect a young person's future and their relationships with whānau, the community and sense of self.

The MST service provides a therapist to work with whānau for five months, several times each week, to provide support in the home, school or community. Outside of the therapist visits, the service ensures someone from the team is available on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Multi Systemic Therapy aims to:

  • improve caregiver or parenting methods

  • improve family/whānau relationships

  • decrease a young person's alcohol or other substance use

  • improve a young person's education, job or training opportunities

  • involve youth in positive activities

  • address offending behaviour and reduce the risk of youth entering the justice system.

How does MST work?

We will do an assessment to gain an understanding of why the challenging behaviours are happening and develop a plan with the young person and their whānau to address them. Our focus is always on long-term change.

We adopt a strengths-based approach to build confidence in whānau to manage behaviour more effectively and our team also work to make sure whānau have good support within their communities. We will also consult with schools, courses, alternative education providers and workplaces. 

Any other agencies involved with the young person or whānau are included in the process so that everyone is working towards the same goals.

We accept self-referrals for Multi-Systemic Therapy in the Central region. Please contact us to make a referral or for more information. Referrals in the South Island are made by Child and Family Mental Health services.

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