Greg and Sunita

Greg and Sunita

Without the help of Richmond 's MST Service therapist Amanda, 16-year-old Greg would not be discussing options for his future, including doing a chef's course. According to Greg he would probably be in prison.

In Wellington, where Greg lives, the MST service focuses on youth whose behaviours are driven by alcohol and drug addictions. Greg was referred to Richmond's MST by CYFS.

For a young man Greg is very self aware. "I was totally disrespectful at school and home. I was transferred to seven different services before I was referred to Richmond. I was using cannabis every day, and drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes."

Greg started this behaviour at age 11 due, he says, to peer pressure. "All my friends were doing this at school, so I did and I liked it. Everyday I would go to school and think about smoking and drinking.

"At first I did not want MST's help but now I regret even thinking that."

Sunita Nadj, the MST Service Delivery Manager in Wellington, says, "When we engage in MST with the family we start working on assessing referral behaviours such as alcohol and drugs misuse, offending, truancy and verbal and physical aggression."

The major goal of MST is to empower parents with the skills and resources needed to independently address the difficulties that arise in raising teenagers and to empower youth to cope with family, school, and neighbourhood problems.

Within a context of support and skills building, the therapist places developmentally appropriate demands on adolescents and the family for responsible behaviours. Intervention strategies are integrated into a social ecological context and include structural family therapy, cognitive behaviour therapies and strategic family therapy.

When Greg started working with his therapist, Amanda, their first task was to set some short-term goals that he could achieve.

"She set me up with a chart that I filled in. It had some rewards. One of my goals was to try and have fun without drugs and alcohol. Longer term goals were to get back into school and to stop using drugs.

"Amanda would talk to me about how she would help me and talk about what we would do the next day. Even though I have now left the programme, Amanda and Sunita are still helping me."

Sunita says, "We spend a lot of time with the families of our clients and even though he is now out of our service we still want to help him. Our goal is to empower Greg and his family to sustain the positive changes achieved during 20 weeks of MST. We are also encouraging his family to support Greg to get back into some sort of training."

Greg has a desire to stop using drugs and alcohol - he also has some definite goals. "I am trying to get into a course and Sunita is helping me out with that. I would like to be a cook."

With Greg's quiet determination he is bound to reach his goal.