Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is an established treatment program for youth displaying multiproblem behavior. We examined whether MDFT decreased criminal offending among cannabis abusing adolescents, as compared with individual psychotherapy (IP). In a Western European randomized controlled trial comparing MDFT with IP, a sample of 169 adolescents with a cannabis disorder completed self-reports on criminal offending. Half indicated they had committed one or more criminal offenses in the 90 days before the baseline assessment. Follow-up assessments were at 6 and 12 months after randomization. The proportion of adolescents reporting nondelinquency increased during the study period, most so in the MDFT condition. In addition, MDFT lowered the number of violent offenses more than IP. This difference was not seen for property crimes. In cannabis abusing adolescents, MDFT is an effective treatment to prevent and reduce criminal offending. MDFT outperforms IP for violent crimes.
Thimo M. van der Pol, Craig E. Henderson, Vincent Hendriks, Michael P. Schaub, Henk Rigter
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, May 1, 2018