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Multidimensional Family Therapy Reduces Self-Reported Criminality Among Adolescents With a Cannabis Use Disorder

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 62(6):1573-88 Issue: 6 Dated: 2018 Pages: 1573-88
Thimo M. van der Pol; Craig E. Henderson; Vincent Hendriks; Michael P. Schaub; Henk Rigter
Date Published
16 pages

The authors report on a randomized controlled trial, performed in Western Europe, which sought to determine the effectiveness of multidimensional family therapy compared with individual psychotherapy; they discuss their research methodology, outcomes, and policy implications.


Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is an established treatment program for youth displaying multi-problem behavior. The authors examined whether MDFT decreased criminal offending among cannabis abusing adolescents, as compared with individual psychotherapy (IP). In a Western European, randomized controlled trial comparing MDFT with IP, a sample of 169 adolescents with a cannabis disorder completed self-reports on criminal offending. Half of the adolescents indicated they had committed one or more criminal offenses in the 90 days before the baseline assessment. Follow-up assessments were at six and 12 months after randomization. The proportion of adolescents reporting non-delinquency increased during the study period, most so in the MDFT condition. In addition, MDFT lowered the number of violent offenses more than IP. This difference was not seen for property crimes. In cannabis abusing adolescents, MDFT is an effective treatment to prevent and reduce criminal offending. MDFT outperforms IP for violent crimes. Publisher Abstract Provided