1. What is MDFT?

Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is an evidence-based, intensive outpatient treatment model for high risk, delinquent and drug using adolescents. MDFT works to influence change in four treatment domains: the adolescent, the parents and parenting, the family's interaction and patterns, and the family and youth's interactions with educational, health, and social and legal systems.

2. Will my insurance cover the counseling?

Most insurance companies offer some level of coverage to families seeking MDFT treatment through approved agencies. Call your insurance company to verify your coverage.

3. Can the sessions occur in my home?

Yes! Some sessions may take place in your home. Additional sessions may be held in the therapist's office. If meeting in the office is a concern that may stop you from seeking treatment, your therapist will work with you to find a solution.

4. How much will this cost?

The cost of services will depend on your insurance plan and co-pay. The cost of not seeking help may be greater, especially if your son or daughter's life is off track, putting their safety or future at risk.

5. How frequently will the sessions occur?

This depends on many factors, but typically sessions occur between 1-3 times each week.

6. How long is this program?

MDFT may last between 4-6 months, depending on the level of need, as well as the amount of youth/family engagement.


One MDFT agency reported seeing a 77% reduction in family violence among MDFT families in their first year of operation



In a recent study, MDFT youth showed a 50% improvement in school grades in the semester following completion of the program.



95% of youth in MDFT completed at least three months of treatment. Only 59% of those in a residential program did the same.



More than 90% of youth referred to MDFT complete treatment.



A study of youth ages 12-15 revealed that one year after treatment 93% of those in MDFT were still abstaining from using. Only 55% who received standard substance abuse treatment could say the same.


7. How long is this program?

MDFT may last between 4-6 months, depending on the level of need, as well as the amount of youth/family engagement.

8. Are there supports for this program, such as incentives?

Some families participating in MDFT benefit from additional supports including: travel reimbursement, funds for sober living activities and assistance in meeting educational or employment goals. Your therapist will help you identify your family's needs and assist with any additional supports.

9. What if this program does not work for my child?

MDFT is supported by decades of research reporting its effectiveness. The program's effectiveness has been noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the Office of Justice Programs, and more. MDFT regularly appears in best practice lists and evidence-based practice registries for adolescent drug abuse and delinquency treatment by U.S. and international government funding agencies, private foundations, and independent reviews.

Although MDFT has proven to be more cost-effective than residential treatment and more successful than many traditional outpatient treatments, the reality is that sometimes a higher level of care may be necessary to stabilize a youth's health or mental health if safety concerns are unable to be managed on an outpatient basis.

10. What if the parent does not want to be included in the counseling process?

It is understandable if a parent lacks the energy or motivation to participate in the counseling process. Speak with your youth's therapist to discuss these feelings, and remember that YOU, the parent or loved one, can help save your son or daughter.

11. Why does the parent have to be involved when the child is the one using substances?

This is a family disease. Every member of the family has been impacted by the substance use of the adolescent. The serious nature of substance abuse and the potentially damaging lifelong effects make it imperative that parents be actively involved in both treatment and recovery. Your child didn't get to this point on his own and he won't get better without your help.

There are many influences in your youth's life - family, school, work, peers, legal system, community and the media. Research shows that the family system and parents are the most influential component of a child's development. The family's ability to buffer against negative influences greatly effects how an adolescent develops.

illustration illustration

Bring Your Family Back Together.

Find a MDFT provider near you circle arrow