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AWARE Ink Newsletter

An Overview of Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy

Just what is Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (or MDFT)? If you’ve been reading INK during the last couple of months you’ve probably read about this therapeutic treatment (primarily available through our new FACT program) but without a lot of explanation.

Well, AWARE is excited to tell you that we’re the first agency in Montana to introduce MDFT to the populations that we serve.

Straight from their website, “MDFT transforms lives through family-centered treatment for youth struggling with mental health and other challenges. It gives parents hope and tangible help and enables youth to create a positive lifestyle. Through MDFT, youth and their family will communicate more effectively, function better day-to-day, and ultimately grow closer and stronger together.”

This therapy is versatile and suitable for children between the ages of 10-26 along with their families. It focuses on connecting individually with the youth, their parents, together as a family, and all-together with their community influences. An MDFT therapist is trained to facilitate changes in each of these areas to create successful outcomes for everyone.

Through MDFT, youth improve self-awareness and enhance their self-worth and confidence. They develop meaningful short-term and long-term life goals. Improvements are made toward coping, problem-solving skills and emotional regulation. They learn to communicate better, find success in school/work, they build positive friendships and participate in healthy social activities. MDFT has also reduced substance use, delinquency and other problem behaviors through improved and stabilized overall mental health.

Parents and families also benefit from MDFT. It builds teamwork, improves parenting skills and rebuilds the bonds between parents and their children. Emotional attachments and feelings of connection improve along with everyday functioning of the family unit. The therapy has also led to enhanced well-being and self-care practices for parents.

Overall, relationships improve between families and their school, court, legal, workplace and other local social systems. Their capacity to access needed resources is developed and built upon.

MDFT has a proven track record of success and is considered a practical science-based intervention. The therapy has undergone more than 30 years of rigorous research and has been implemented in more than 150 public and private settings throughout the U.S. and Europe.

AWARE is proud to be able to offer this approach to youth, parents and community collaborators.

For more information, please contact AWARE Clinical Director Traci Shinabarger ( or AWARE FACT Project Director Dr. Lyn Ankelman, LCPC, CMHP, (

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