Special Projects

The MDFT model is constantly being tested and refined in new treatment settings among diverse patient populations.

MDFT as an Alternative to Residential Treatment

Results from a ground-breaking randomized clinical trial comparing MDFT to residential treatment were published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in July 2018. MDFT delivered in the home and community matched or surpassed residential treatment on all measures, including substance use, delinquency, and mental health symptoms.

This was the first ever study to rigorously compare an outpatient, community treatment to residential treatment for seriously psychiatrically impaired drug-involved adolescents who were referred for residential treatment.

The results counter conventional wisdom that youth with severe psychiatric and substance use comorbidities can only be adequately treated in a residential setting. Further, the findings demonstrate that MDFT is a highly effective alternative to residential treatment for youth.


Liddle, H. A., Dakof, G. A., Rowe, C. L., Henderson, C., Greenbaum, P., Wang, W., Alberga, L. (2018). Multidimensional Family Therapy as a community-based alternative to residential treatment for adolescents with substance use and co-occurring mental health disordersJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 90, 47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2018.04.011

From left, Nathalie Bastard (Paris), Celine Bonnaire (Paris), Philip Nielsen (Geneva), Cecilia Soria Dupuis (Geneva), Olivier Phan (Paris), Howard Liddle (Miami).

Treating Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD)

European researchers are teaming up with MDFT International for a pilot study on treating IGD. The research team includes several members from the 2007 International Need for Cannabis Treatment (INCANT) Study, including Henk Rigter, the INCANT PI from the Netherlands. The study’s clinical sites are in Paris, France (Paris Descartes CPSC - Institut de Psychologie, and Dupre Clinic), and Geneva, Switzerland (Phenix Foundation). Project members met for an MDFT-IGD treatment development meeting in Geneva on September 24-26, 2017.



Bonnaire, C., & Phan, O. (2017). Relationships between parental attitudes, family functioning and Internet gaming disorder in adolescent attending school. Psychiatry Research, 255 , 104-110. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.05.030

Bonnaire Céline. Thérapie familiale multidimensionnelle: conceptualisation du cas en termes de facteurs de risque et de facteurs protecteurs. Illustration clinique de son utilisation chez les joueurs problématiques de jeux vidéo. Thérapie Familiale, 2016/4 (Vol. 37), p. 387-406.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use

Dr. Gayle Dakof is leading a pilot program of MDFT for opioid use disorders among transition-aged youth (TAY) in Connecticut, USA. The program, known as the ASSERT Treatment Model (ATM), provides youth up to age 21 and their families with six months of MDFT, medication assisted treatment (MAT), and recovery support services for up to 12 months. It is available to families in 121 Connecticut towns and has the capacity to serve as many as 94 youth and families at a time. The hope is this program will provide a “one-stop shop” for youth and their families, eliminating barriers to receiving multiple needed services to combat opioid addiction.

This comprehensive clinical model was developed through collaboration between Dr. Dakof and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. The program is being funded by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and is being delivered in four Connecticut providers: Community Health Resources in Manchester, Connecticut Junior Republic in Waterbury, United Community & Family Services in Norwich, and Wheeler Clinic in Plainville.