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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Second Advisor

Diana Formoso

Third Advisor

Edward R Simco


12-Step Groups, Clinical Training, Computer-Mediated Training, Psychotherapist Attitudes, Substance Use Disorders


Substance use disorders represent a consistent threat to our health care and financial resources. Although mental health professionals are likely to encounter individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders, they are less likely to receive formal graduate training in the area. Furthermore, 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are popular, evidence-based recovery options, yet little is known about perceptions of such groups among clinical trainees. In addition, quantitative evaluations of substance use training modules have seldom been conducted, including a notable lack of methodologically rigorous approaches.

To fill these gaps in the literature, the current study examined the efficacy of a brief computer-mediated training intervention, or e-training, designed to increase future clinicians' knowledge and intentions to engage in 12-step-related professional activities (e.g., making an appropriate referral to a 12-step group). Secondary outcomes were beliefs and attitudes about 12-step groups. Fifty participants were randomly assigned to receive the e-training, a brief audio/visual presentation reviewing 12-step recovery philosophy but focusing on academic 12-step literature. Fifty-three participants were randomly assigned to read comparison materials, which were comprised of online readings geared toward professionals, made available by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Outcomes were assessed at pretest, posttest (i.e., immediately following exposure to intervention or comparison materials), and 4-week follow-up periods. Results of random effects regression analyses showed that the e-training led to significantly greater increases in 12-step recovery knowledge than comparison readings, and that these gains were maintained through follow-up. An intervention effect on intentions to perform 12-step-related professional activities also emerged by follow-up. Exploratory moderation analyses revealed that the intentions effect was more pronounced for women and for trainees who had never attended a 12-step meeting. Secondarily, the e-training led to significantly greater increases in 12-step-positive beliefs and attitudes, though the beliefs effect attenuated by follow-up. Taken together, these data suggest that future clinicians may benefit from a brief e-training about 12-step recovery. More broadly, the study supports the notion that e-trainings are easily disseminated and may help address current limitations in graduate-level substance use clinical training.

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