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Multisystemic Treatment of Juvenile Offenders: Effects on Adolescent Behavior and Family Interaction

NCJ Number
Developmental Psychology Volume: 22 Issue: 1 Dated: (January 1986) Pages: 131-141
S W Henggeler; J D Rodlick; C L Hanson; S M Watson; C M Borduin; J R Urey
Date Published
This study examined the efficacy of a multisystemic, family ecological treatment on behavior and family interactions in a sample of 57 delinquents assigned to the family treatment, 23 delinquents assigned to alternative treatments representative of the range of services provided in Memphis (e.g., family and individual counseling, recreational/social programs, vocational training, alternative education), and 44 normal adolescents who served as developmental controls.
Pretreatment and posttreatment assessments were conducted with adolescents and their families. Personality inventories, behavior ratings, and self-report and observational measures of family interactions were included to evaluate changes at several systemic levels. Statistical analyses revealed that the adolescents who received the family-ecological treatment evidenced significant decreases in behavior problems, anxious-withdrawn behaviors, immaturity, and association with delinquent peers. The mother-adolescent and marital relations in these families were significantly warmer, and the adolescent was significantly more involved in family interactions. In contrast, the families who received alternative treatments evidenced no positive change and showed deterioration in their affective relations. The normal families manifested relationship changes that were consistent with those identified by investigators of normal adolescent development. The findings support a multisystemic model of behavior disorders and their treatment. 2 tables and 58 references. (Author abstract modified)