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Treatment center use of evidence-based psychosocial addiction treatments

Counselor training in several evidence-based psychosocial addiction treatments in private US substance abuse treatment centers

Todd A. Olmstead, Amanda J. Abraham, Steve Martino, and Paul M. Roman

Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, volume 120, Issues 1–3, 1 January 2012, Pages 149-154




Given that most addiction counselors enter the field unprepared to implement psychosocial evidence-based practices (EBPs), surprisingly little is known about the extent to which substance abuse treatment centers provide their counselors with formal training in these treatments. This study examines the extent of formal training that treatment centers provide their counselors in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), contingency management (CM), and brief strategic family therapy (BSFT).


Face-to-face interviews with 340 directors of a nationally representative sample of privately funded US substance abuse treatment centers.


Although a substantial number of treatment centers provide their counselors with formal training in EBPs that they use with their clients, coverage is far from complete. For example, of those centers that use CBT, 34% do not provide their counselors with any formal training in CBT (either initially or annually), and 61% do not provide training in CBT that includes supervised training cases. Sizable training gaps exist for MI, CM, and BSFT as well.


The large training gaps found in this study give rise to concerns regarding the integrity with which CBT, MI, CM, and BSFT are being delivered by counselors in private US substance abuse treatment centers. Future research should examine the generalizability of our findings to other types of treatment centers (e.g., public) and to the implementation of other EBPs.

> Full text available from ScienceDirect. Click here to access

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