June 2021. New release of a fact sheet on MDFT for Diverse Populations describes various publications supporting the use of MDFT for ethnic minorities in the U.S. We include outcomes data for non-White youth and their families in randomized clinical trials and in the community. 

May 2021. A new publication on the results of a randomized controlled trial to reduce problematic gaming in adolescents was published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The article presents results of a study of MDFT versus family therapy as usual (FTAU) to address Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). Results indicate that both approaches work to treat IGD, but MDFT outperformed FTAU.

April 2021. New release of a fact sheet on MDFT for Young Adults describing the effectiveness of MDFT for 284 young adults (ages 18-26) in the United States. Outcome results of the transitional age youth pilot study (TAY) in Florida are also presented.

March 2021. New release of a 2-page fact sheet on 5 Reasons to Implement MDFT describes the model's effectiveness and main reasons to select it for youth and families in community-based and residential settings. 

February 2021. On February 23rd, MDFT International hosted a webinar to inform the community and policy makers about our success implementing MDFT and MDFR in Connecticut. Former youth participants and parents, community agency leaders, and clinicians shared their experiences. Implementation outcomes were also presented. Watch the webinar in its entirety.  

December 2020. Issue #10 of the MDFT Newsletter has been released. This edition includes a 2020 year-end reflection, results from a 2-year pilot study with transitional age youth, news and a case illustration from our European partners (SJI), news about MDFT rating and inclusion in the Title IV-Prevention Services Clearinghouse. We also included the results for over 6,500 youth and their families who participated in MDFT in the U.S. A SAMHSA funding announcement was also included in this edition.

November 2020. MDFT implementation outcomes released. An examination of over 6,500 youth and families who received MDFT in 91 community clinics throughout the United States, reveals exemplary outcomes. For example, on average youth demonstrated over 50% reduction in substance use, 48% reduction in delinquent behaviors, and 30% improvement in school grades. At discharge from treatment, 86% of youth had stable mental health. Read more in this fact sheet.

May 2020. Issue #9 of the MDFT Newsletter has been released. This edition includes results from 5 year data on the positive effects of MDFT for over 6,500 youth and their families. We also included a heartfelt message of gratitude and hope in times of COVID-19. Also, learn about the newest MDFT teams and trainers. 

May 2020. Youth Interventions Foundation, our MDFT partners in Europe, released a special newsletter on COVID-19. This edition include information about training during this crisis, as well as best practices to continue implementing MDFT while quarantined.

April 2020. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, MDFT Interntional has been sharing with its providers numerous messages with procedures and guidelines to follow with staff and particpants/clients. On-site staff trainings have been postponed temporarily, but virtual interactive sessions are being held as needed.

February 2020. MDFT International Director, Dr. Gayle Dakof, gave an overview of MDFT in a webinar hosted by the Lutheran Services in America, one of the largest health care and human services networks in the United States. The webinar was part of a series on the 16 evidence-based programs being reviewed by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse as a mental health, substance abuse, and in-home parent skills based intervention, that could potentially be IV-E funded under the Family First Act. The webinar was aired on February 18, 2020.

December 2019. A new publication with our European colleagues working on the MDFT and Internet Gaming Project can be downloaded here. 

November 2019.
Issue #8 of the MDFT Newsletter has been released. This edition includes an article summarizing the positive outcomes of a randomized clinical trial comparing outcomes between MDFT and residential treatment. Also, learn about the newest teams joining MDFT in South Carolina and various cities in Finland.

September 2019. MDFT has contracted with South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) Children and Family Services (CAF) to train up to 120 therapists who serve youth and families at the State’s Community Mental Health Centers. Training will begin this Fall with 5 mental health centers throughout the state.“SCDMH staff are eager to learn and begin utilizing this evidenced–based practice that will help us engage caregivers as we treat children across our state,” said DMH Deputy Director over Community Mental Health Services Debbie Blalock. “We know from many years of experience that if we do not engage families in the treatment we provide, we are not being as effective as we need to be.” A press release was written to share the news.

June 2019. A new publication on treatment for adolescents presenting Internet gaming disorder (IGD) was published online in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The article presents the rationale to involve parents when treating adolescents presenting IGD. The IGD treatment program discussed is based on the science-supported MDFT approach, which is family-based. Following treatment development work, the MDFT approach was adapted for IGD.

January 2019. MDFT International Director Dr. Gayle Dakof sat down for an interview with Trauma Matters to discuss how MDFT can be used to treat trauma in youth. MDFT protocols work with the youth to address trauma as well as help parents have conversations with their children about their experience.

January 2019. Newport Mental Health in Rhode Island was award a $4 million federal grant to implement evidence based mental health treatment to uninsured and underinsured individuals. Read the article here.

July 2018. 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. MDFT vs. Residential Fact Sheet.

June 2018. 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. 

October 2017. Members of the original International Cannabis Need for Treatment (INCANT) Study, including Henk Rigter, the INCANT PI from The Hague, Netherlands, are collaborating with MDFT International again on a multi-site, cross-national research project to treat Internet Gaming Disorders (IGD). The study’s clinical sites are in Paris, France (Paris Descartes CPSC - Institut de Psychologie, and Dupre Clinic), and Geneva, Switzerland (Phenix Foundation). This photo includes project members who met for an MDFT-IGD treatment development meeting in Geneva, September 24, 25, 26. From left, Nathalie Bastard (Paris), Celine Bonnaire (Paris), Philip Nielsen (Geneva), Cecilia Soria Dupuis (Geneva), Olivier Phan (Paris), Howard Liddle (Miami).

October 2017. A new publication from Dr. Cindy Rowe and MDFT developer Dr. Howard Liddle was published in the newest edition of Cognitive Therapy with Children and Adolescents. The Anatomy of Cognitions in Multidimensional Family Therapy outlines aspects of the MDFT intervention that specifically target cognitions in adolescents. The article is a companion piece to Dr. Liddle's 1994 piece, The Anatomy of Emotions in Family Therapy with Adolescents.

May 2017. Two federal grants from SAMHSA were awarded for MDFT services in Wisconsin and Connecticut. The WI Department of Health Services (DHS) and the CT Department of Children & Families (DCF) will use the money to fund MDFT services for youth with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.

The Wisconsin DHS will use its funds to create the Wisconsin Youth Treatment Initiative, which will focus on transitional aged youth (ages 16-25). The grant provides $760,000 annually for four years starting September 30, 2017, and the Wisconsin Youth Treatment Initiative will collaborate with MDFT International to train four MDFT teams at four clinical centers throughout the state.

Connecticut DCF will use the funds for MDFT services integrated with medication-assisted treatment, the first MDFT program of its kind. They will receive $3.1 million for the program.

Read more about the grant here.

April 2017. On April 29, MDFT Developer Howard Liddle will be the Keynote Speaker at the annual conference of the California Association of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC) in Redlands, CA. His talk is titled “Improving Adolescent Treatment Engagement and Outcomes: Lessons from Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)”. See the CALPCC website for details.

January 2017. Several new developments on MDFT research came out this month.

In the first, a new meta-analytic review suggested that treatment models designed with cultural sensitivity in mind are indeed more effective at reducing substance use among ethnic and racial minorities. The review included several culturally-sensitive treatments, including MDFT. More information on the cultural theme interventions of MDFT can be found here.

Another study examined MDFT's effectiveness in reducing delinquency among youth with cannabis use disorder. The study found that MDFT was effective in reducing delinquency, and had greater gains than a comparison treatment particularly in reducing violent crimes.

Another meta-analysis looked at results from nearly 20 MDFT study publications to determine its effectiveness in addressing multiple problems, including substance abuse, delinquency, mental health symptoms, and family functioning. The analysis found MDFT to be more effective than comparison treatments and that it was most beneficial to adolescents with high severity problems.

January 2017. Impact! Critically acclaimed webinar by Dr. Gayle Dakof, Director of MDFT International. Approximately 400 participants tuned in on Tuesday January 10, 2017 to listen to Gayle’s presentation on MDFT sponsored by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Use Abuse Association (FADAA). The FADAA Director of Distance Learning and Continuing Education called it “a fantastic presentation," saying, “I have never seen so many comments about how much the attendees enjoyed it, and they want more on MDFT!” Missed it live? No worries, click here to listen.

December 2016. MDFT video streaming online - “MDFT Illustrated” (75 minutes). A review in the Journal of Family Therapy recommend the video “to those working in youth offending or substance abuse settings in order to have an insider view of the MDFT approach.” PsycCRITIQUES concluded that the video “captures Liddle’s unique ability to develop relationships with adolescents with substance abuse and their family members and community stakeholders, as well as his ability to instill hope and motivation, facilitate expression and interchange, and develop therapeutic alliances that are known to contribute significantly to successful outcomes.

September 2016. MDFT research has been summarized in many of our publications, but a new article from MDFT developer Howard Liddle offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive summary yet. The article was published in Family Process, the premier journal covering family therapy, which published a Special Issue on empirically-supported family and couple therapies.

August 2016. Dr. Howard Lidde, the developer of MDFT, lead the workshop Adolescent Substance Abuse and Conduct Disorder: 4 Keys to Improved Outcomes in Riverside County, CA. The workshop focused on integrating the MDFT approach into clinical practice, as well as other topics including addressing barriers to treatment and enhancing general clinical skills.

May 2016. MDFT was covered in a major review in the newly-published Oxford Handbook of Adolescent Substance Abuse. The section, which focused on family-based treatments, reviewed the state of the science as well as new challenges in the field.

April 2016. MDFT was included in the first ever French-language compilation of evidence-based family therapies. MDFT Trainers Henk Rigter and Philip Nielsen contributed to a chapter on MDFT in the book's section of adolescent therapies.

March 2016. New findings published in the journal Family Process examined MDFT and sexual health risk. The study compared MDFT to a standard peer group treatment among drug-involved young offenders, and looked at several measures of risk including unprotected sex, total sexual activity, and incidence of HIV/sexually-transmitted infections.

Results showed that MDFT reduced sexual risk more than the alternative treatment, and that its effects were more pronounced among youth with greater intake severity. Click here for the MDFT sexual health protocol.

January 2016. In early 2016, MDFT International, Inc. will be hiring National MDFT Trainers for our East Coast operations. Part-time staff and consultant positions are available. We prefer candidates who are (or were) certified as MDFT therapists, supervisors or trainers. Candidates with extensive family therapy supervision and training experience will also be considered. Salary/Consulting fee will be commensurate with experience. Hands on training to be a National MDFT Trainer will be provided.

If you are interested, please send your resume to Gayle A. Dakof, Ph.D. at

October 2015.The latest issue of the MDFT newsletter was published. This issue covered MDFT's expansion into Estonia, results from an RCT on MDFT in juvenile drug court, findings from a new statistical analysis on MDFT and gender and ethnicity, and a spotlight piece on state-wide MDFT implementation in Connecticut.

August 2015. A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology examined MDFT through the lens of gender and ethnicity. While both MDFT and comparison treatments were found to effectively reduce drug use among Hispanics and females, only MDFT was found to be effective among males, African Americans, and European Americans as well.

The study affirmed MDFT's efficacy among diverse populations. The study the authors also noted that the results are encouraging given that male, African American youth are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system and underrepresented in treatment.

August 2015. MDFT in Iowa launches, which showcases MDFT programs in that state. The site features success stories of MDFT, facts and statistics, and simple, straightforward information about the MDFT program and how it works.

June 2015. The newly published Textbook of Addiction Treatment describes the first independent and international replication of MDFT, the INCANT Study, in a chapter by Dr. Henk Rigter and colleagues. The INCANT study designsample characteristics, and final outcomes are detailed in previous publications, and in the outcomes papers by Rigter (2013) and Shaub (2014). This MDFT study has received considerable attention on the world stage, most recently by the the UK publication Drug & Alcohol Findings and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

April 2015. The APA's award-winning quarterly publication, The Family Psychologist, published a guest column about MDFT by Henk Rigter, Ph.D. Multidimensional Family Therapy on the Wings discusses international implementation of MDFT, specifically the challenges and successes of translating an American treatment to European populations and therapists.

April 2015. A randomized clinical trial on MDFT in juvenile drug court, published online in January by the APA's Journal of Family Psychology, was published in print in their April issue: Dakof, G.A., Henderson, C., Rowe, C.L., Boustani, M., Greenbaum, P.E., Wang, W.,... Liddle H.A. (2015). A randomized clinical trial of family therapy in juvenile drug court. Journal of Family Psychology, 29(2), 232-241. doi: 10.1037/fam0000053

January 2015. The APA's Journal of Family Psychology published a randomized clinical trial on MDFT in juvenile drug court, which found that MDFT significantly reduced substance use and criminal behaviors. While in drug court, youth in MDFT had a 76% reduction in substance use and a 74% reduction in crime. MDFT youth also had better long-term treatment outcomes than those in an alternative treatment. Two years after drug court, adolescents who received MDFT had fewer externalizing symptoms (aggression and delinquency) and fewer felony arrests. 62% of youth in MDFT had no arrests 2 years after enrollment in drug court, and 78% had no felony arrests during this same period. The study suggests that family therapy can help maintain treatment outcomes long after adolescents have left the drug court system.

October 2014. Alexander Street Press has released a new MDFT training video. The DVD shows the clinical work of MDFT developer Howard Liddle. Individual sessions with the adolescent, the youth’s mother, and the school counselor, along with family sessions, illustrate the model's core components over the three stages of treatment. A sample from the video can be found here.

October 2014. The Pro Talk series on featured another article by Dr. Gayle Dakof, How to Earn the Trust of Teens and Initiate Change. This article walks therapists through the process of building rapport with a teen and using respect and understanding to make treatment engaging and productive. It also gives practical examples of dialogue that therapists can use in their sessions with teens.

September 2014. The blog Pro Talk featured an article from MDFT Director Dr. Gayle Dakof: 5 Lessons for Parents of Substance Abusing Teens. Drawing from the framework of MDFT, the article gives parents strategies and suggestions for addressing problematic drug use.

September 2014. A new publication in Family Process described the implementation challenges and solutions in the MDFT Detention to Community controlled trial. The paper specifies the steps and processes contributing to the integration of the MDFT approach in juvenile justice settings. Click here for a video introduction to the article.

June 2014. The Dutch journal Systeemtherapie published a primer on MDFT for therapists in the Netherlands.

May 2014. Henk Rigter’s article on MDFT in The Netherlands appeared in the popular juvenile justice blog Reclaiming Futures.

March 2014. MDFT was well represented in Heidelberg, Germany at the First European Conference on Research in Systemic Family Therapy. Implementation outcomes were presented by Henk Rigter (The Netherlands), Andreas Gantner (Germany), Kees Mos (The Netherlands), and Olivier Phan (France). MDFT developer Howard Liddle presented a Keynote Lecture on implementation issues in the U.S. and Europe.

February 2014.  In another outcome paper on the first independent replication of MDFT, Michael Schaub (Germany), Craig Henderson (USA), Isidore Pelc (Belgium), Olivier Phan (France), Vincent Hendricks (The Netherlands), Cindy Rowe (USA), and Henk Rigter (The Netherlands) published “Multidimensional Family Therapy Decreases the Rate of Externalising Behavioral Disorder Symptoms in Cannabis Abusing Adolescents: Outcomes of the INCANT Trial” in BMC Psychiatry. Both MDFT and individual psychotherapy reduced the rate of externalising and internalising symptoms and improved family functioning among adolescents with a cannabis use disorder. MDFT outperformed individual psychotherapy in decreasing the rate of externalising symptoms. Contrary to common beliefs among therapists in parts of Western Europe, the ‘coerced’ adolescents did at least as well in treatment as the self-referred adolescents. Consistent with the evidence base established in U.S. trials, MDFT shows effectiveness as a treatment for both substance use disorders and externalising symptoms.

November 2013.  Invited by the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Dr. Howard Liddle presented a major address on recent MDFT outcome evidence to the International Scientific Conference on Cannabis and Health in Stockholm.

October 2013. Dr. Gayle Dakof, Executive Training Director at MDFT International, is a Seventeen Magazine expert. See "Does Your Friend Have a Drug Problem?"in the October 2013 issue of Seventeen Magazine.

August 2013. The Society of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association awarded the 2013 Distinguished Contribution to Family Psychology Award to the MDFT developer Howard Liddle at the APA Convention in Honolulu, HI. Dr. Liddle's presentations at the recent APA meeting are posted in the Division 53, Child and Adolescent Psychology website and here on the MDFT website.

July/August 2013.  The Harvard Review of Psychiatry published a review of the MDFT research and clinical model, and an invited discussion of the review by Howard Liddle and Henk Rigter ("How Developmental Research and Contextual Theory Drive Clinical Work with Adolescents with Addiction.")

June 2013.  MDFT is selected by US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for inclusion in its Comparative Effectiveness Research Series Informational Packets Initiative. SAMHSA has launched an effort "to promote the adoption of a patient-centered behavioral health intervention by behavioral and community health providers" by creating informational packets (Intervention Specific Booklets & Factsheets). SAMHSA selected 5 therapeutic approaches, including MDFT, "... that can be implemented with many different populations by providers of mental health and substance abuse services." These materials are designed to help funders and providers make informed decisions about implementing evidence-based treatments. MDFT is the only adolescent treatment represented in this effort.

Booklet (PDF, 964 Kb)
Factsheet (PDF, 574 Kb)
NREPP intervention summary (PDF, 106 Kb)

March 2013.  MDFT is discussed in the recently published book Inside Rehab. MDFT Training Director Dr. Gayle Dakof's comments from her interview with the author are included in the book.

January 2013.  MDFT receives highest evaluation from The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). EMCDDA is a center of excellence that provides independent evaluations of European Union and its member states. In their evaluation of treatment options for cannabis (marihuana) users, EMCDDA rated one treatment as beneficial - MDFT. MDFT was the only evidence-supported family based treatment included in the Best Practice Portal on Treatment Options for Cannabis Users.

December 2012.  The first independent replication of MDFT has been published. A landmark study, funded by the Health Ministries of the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany provides strong support for the transfer and replicability of the MDFT clinical and training program. "Multidimensional Family Therapy lowers the rate of cannabis dependence in adolescents: A randomised controlled trial in Western Europe outpatient settings."