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Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)

University of Miami, School of Medical Center
1400 10th Ave. NW, 11th Floor, Mail Stop M-711
Miami, FL 33136
Contact Information
Howard A Liddle

Program Specifications


Prevention, Intervention

Age/Grade Level:

Middle School, High School





Target Settings:

Urban, Suburban

Target Groups:


Other Participation Criteria:



Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is a comprehensive and flexible family-based program for substance-abusing adolescents or those at high risk for substance use and other problem behaviors. MDFT is a multicomponent and multilevel intervention system. There is also a substance abuse prevention version of MDFT for early adolescents. Interventions are solution-focused and strive to obtain immediate and practical impact on the youth's everyday environment. MDFT has been designed, adapted, and tested in a variety of different versions - as a standalone or part of a broader program.

Program Descriptors Include:

Behavior Management/Discipline, Extra Curricular, Family/Parental Involvement, Substance Abuse, Life Skills Training

Program Rating:

Moderate Evidence

Starting Year:


Students Served Per Year:

Last Verified:

March 19th, 2009

Strategies for Locating Students:


Reenrolled Students with Disabilities:


Risk Factors

Program addresses the following:

Individual Factors

  • High-risk peer group
  • High-risk social behavior
  • Low achievement
  • Lack of effort
  • No extracurricular participation
  • Misbehavior

Community Factors

  • Youth social attitudes

Protective Factors

Program promotes the following:


  • Opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement
  • Clear social norms


  • Healthy/conventional beliefs and standards


  • Problem-solving skills


  • High expectations by community, family, school, and self

Program Resources

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is or per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Program Staff Includes:

Counselors, Social Workers

Materials Used:

Supporting/Partner Organizations:

Evaluation Information

Description of Program Impact:
Studies support the effectiveness of the MDFT treatment system among diverse samples of adolescents, including several randomized controlled clinical trials. Studies found that, compared to other types of treatment, MDFT significantly: decreased substance abuse, with gains maintained up to one year post-treatment; decreased delinquent behavior, arrests, and placement on probation; reduced affiliation with delinquent and drug-using peers; decreased disruptive school behavior over comparison youth; increased rate of passing grades over comparison youth. When used for prevention, compared with controls, adolescents who received MDFT exhibited increased bonding to school and decreased association with antisocial peers.

How Evaluation Data Was Collected:
Data collected and analyzed at state or organizational level

Additional Evaluation Information: