Cambridgeshire Multisystemic Therapy for Substance Abuse (MST SA) is specialised in addressing severe adolescent substance abuse and uses a contingency management programme with drug testing in collaboration with parents/carers, working together to design goals to achieve the family's desired outcomes.

How this service can help you

MST is a strength-focused, home-based family model that works mainly with parents or carers to support positive change in relation to their child's behaviours. We will discuss the reasons for referral with them and work with them to design a number of goals to work on during the three to five-month-long MST programme.

Our main treatment goals and therapies can help families to:

  • Understand the factors relating to their child's behaviours (and we will support them to devise plans to address these factors)
  • Empower parents to ensure their child attends school
  • Empower parents with skills and resources to independently address difficulties in raising young people
  • Empower young people to cope with family, peer, school, and neighbourhood problems
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce the frequency and severity of referrals to services
  • Increase or improve the family's capacity to develop social networks and to utilise those networks to support parenting

If appropriate, we will work with the young person and their parents to abstain from substance abuse using contingency management protocols and drug testing.

Facilities available

We provide an on call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  We work with families in their own homes.

How do young people access this service?

We accept referrals for children, young people and families living in Cambridgeshire and meeting our criteria.  Referrals are usually received from social workers  and youth offending workers within Cambridgeshire County Council Social Care Services and from child and adolescent mental health professionals. 

We do not accept direct referrals from GPs.

How do I refer to the MST SA Service Cambridgeshire?

Referrals are usually made by social workers, youth offending workers or child and adolescent mental health workers. 

All referrals have to be made through the Cambridgeshire Single Agency Referral Fom (SARF) stating that a referral is made for MST.  The SARF is available on request from the MST Service (see below.

All referrals require background information on all previous interventions and their outcomes.

All referrals from social care, CAMHS and the Youth Offending Service must be sent to the MST Supervisor, copied to the MST Business Support Officer (see below) 10 working days before the allocation referral meeting.

All social care referrals have to be discussed and approved by the Area Social Care Service Manager.    Social care referrals needs to be accompanied by:

  • core assessment
  • child in need and/or child protection plan
  • latest child in need or core group review if available

Youth Offending Service referrals need to be accompanied by ASSET.

Referral information should be followed up with YOIS information (if applicable), recent CAMHS assessments and reports, the report of child protection conference, conference notes and child protection plan as soon as they are available, but should not delay the referral.

A monthly allocation meeting is held on the first Monday of each month, attended by representatives of all agencies (Social Care, CAMH and Youth Offending Service) to discuss referrals and allocate families for an MST suitability assessment.

All decisions regarding acceptance or non-acceptance will be reported back to the referrer.  In the case of non-acceptance, we will make some practical suggestions regarding case management and appropriate resources provided if applicable.

A suitability assessment is arranged as soon as possible after the allocation meeting and if the referral is accepted, MST work starts straight away.

We do not accept referrals for young people:

  • living independently, or for whom a primary care giver cannot be identified, despie extensive efforts to locate all extended family, adult friends and other potential surrogate care givers
  • referred primarily due to concerns related to recent suicidal, homicidal or psychotic behaviours
  • with sexual offences (sex offending in the absence of other delinquent or anti social behaviour)
  • with pervasive developmental delays
  • in care where permanent care is the plan
  • who have yet to access appropriate services targeted at a lower level of need

Criteria for referral

Our main criteria for accepting and prioritising referrals are:

  • Priority age range: 13-17 years old
  • Young person at imminent risk of out of home placement due to criminal offences such as: criminal damage, threatening behaviour, violence against the person and public order offences
  • Young person at risk of entering care/residential school other than through development delays
  • Physical aggression at home, at school or in the community
  • Verbal aggression, verbal threats of harm to others
  • Charge due to substance misuse
  • Severe substance abuse in the context of these problems contributing to:
    • exclusion from school
    • impending Court case
    • behavioural problems
    • subject to, or likely to be subject to a child protection plan
  • Younger siblings who have an older teenage offending siblling who is living in the same house.

Useful information for professionals


Where is it?

For referrals, enquiries and correspondence:

Multisystemic Therapy Services Cambridgeshire, 3 The Meadow, Meadow Lane, St Ives, PE27 4LG.

Please address all correspondence to the Business Support Officer.

We work with families in their own homes.

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Contact the MS SA Service Cambridgeshire

Who provides the service?

The service is provided by Cambridgeshire County Council in partnership with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

The team consists of a supervisor and four MST workers who are recruited from the following professions: social workers, psychology graduates with clinical expereince and trained counsellors.

Who is this service for?

 The MST SA service is for families living in Cambridgeshire with children or young people between the ages of 11 - 17 years old.  Families may have been referred to us as there are concerns the young person is at risk of an out of home placement due to criminal offences or they are at risk to entering care/residential school other than through developmental delays.  Because of substance abuse they may have behavioural problems, be at risk of exclusion from school, have an impending court case or likely be subject to a child protection plan.  We can also help younger brothers and sisters who have an older offending sibling who is living in the same house.


Further information

The page was last updated on 21 July 2016 by andrea.bateman.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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