Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The Continuing Education Department Palm Beach Community College offers courses for state licensed mental health professionals and nurses who are in need of continuing education hours required by the State of Florida for relicensure. Many mental health professionals have not received training in the field of chemical dependency and are unable to detect this problem when working with individuals the seek counseling. Palm Beach County has a high rate of substance abuse and frequently these individuals seek help from mental health professionals. Consequently, a chemically dependent person could be engaged in the counseling process and never receive an accurate diagnosis or treatment for this primary illness. At present, the continuing education department at Palm Beach Community College does not offer courses on chemical dependency or related topics. The purpose of this project vas to develop a chemical dependency curriculum program for mental health professionals who lack education and training in this field. Diagnosis and assessment, counseling strategies and community resources were the three areas that were extensively researched in the curriculum development. Research questions concerning local resources, the benefit of the curriculum in the community;, the contents, design and delivery, funding and requirements for relicensure were formulated to provide necessary information in shaping the curriculum. An investigation of local resources was conducted by developing e survey to determine the existence of continuing education courses for mental health professionals. The results revealed there was a definite need for local, cost effective courses on chemical dependency for mental health professionals seeking relicensure. A questionnaire was developed for completion by a panel of experts that was used to determine the content of each course. The questionnaire listed topics that could be offered for each course and each panel member rated each item as very important, somewhat important or not important. The results were converted to raw scores of two, one of zero respectively for statistical conversion. Each item that received a mean score of 1.00 or greater was made a part of the curriculum content. All items in each questionnaire were rated a mean score of 1.00 or greater, therefore, all items were researched and implemented for the content of each course. The topics of chemical dependency and curriculum design were extensively researched with special emphasis on diagnostic techniques, specialized counseling skills and community resources. Journals, periodicals, articles, and textbooks were the sources of information utilized for developing the course content. All three courses were devised on the recommendations of experts in curriculum design. A curriculum evaluation checklist was developed to administer to a panel of experts. Each item on the checklist was rated as unsatisfactory (0), satisfactory (1) or excellent (2). The results of the evaluation demonstrated a satisfactory to excellent evaluation for each item on the checklist. Based on the results, recommendations were made for implementation and further evaluation. It was suggested that prior to implementation the curriculum be further reviewed by a continuing education department course coordinator at PBCC and an instructor to review the course contents and general preparation for course advertising, scheduling and implementation. Due to the limitations of the non-random sample of participants, it was also recommended that a larger non-random sample of mental health professionals be surveyed prior to implementation. After implementation, it was recommended that each course be evaluated by the students, the instructor and an observer from the continuing education department for evaluation of each class for each course (formative evaluation) the first time each course is taught. It was further recommended the course be taught by an instructor qualified as an expert in chemical dependency as outlined in the curriculum contents. Other recommendations were for a yearly revision to include new information and concepts in the field of chemical dependency and a follow-up questionnaire to former students to evaluate the long term benefits from taking the course. All of these data would be compiled for continued improvement of the course.

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