Processes of Engagement and Change in Multisystemic Therapy for Minority Ethnic Young People

Aisling Bunting

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Multisystemic therapy (MST) has been shown to be an effective family- and community-based treatment for antisocial behaviour problems with young people from minority ethnic backgrounds. A number of studies have examined the processes of change for individuals in MST, however only one study to date has examined the processes of engagement and change for minority ethnic groups in MST, which focused on the caregiver perspective. The current research aimed to address this gap in the existing literature, by exploring the experiences of minority ethnic young people living in London, who had completed, or dropped out of a MST intervention. A qualitative approach was adopted, using grounded theory methodology to explore minority ethnic young peoples’ experiences of MST, and generate a model of the processes of engagement and change. Seven semi-structured interviews were carried out with young people from three London sites. The emergent model consisted of seven interacting theoretical codes. Three of these codes were organised around the process of engagement; making the decision to engage with MST, understanding family culture and considering cultural differences, and four related to the process of change; having a positive relationship with the MST therapist, making relational family changes, empowering the young person and recognising and reflecting on cultural differences. The author makes novel suggestions relating to the mechanisms that are thought to underlie the process of engagement and change for minority ethnic young people in MST, emphasising the reciprocal and circular nature of these processes. Furthermore, the author highlights the importance of considering cultural difference within the family and in the therapeutic relationship throughout a MST intervention, utilising young peoples’ involvement as a resource.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Fox, Simone, Supervisor
  • Adhyaru, Jai, Supervisor, External person
  • Holland, Amaryllis, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • Multisystemic therapy
  • youth offending
  • minority ethnic
  • Grounded Theory

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