Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Eric Deemer


There has been limited research in the area of treatment effectiveness for college students who abuse substances (e.g., alcohol, marijuana). There is no published research to date that addresses the effectiveness of college students' substance abuse counseling groups utilizing therapeutic reactance as a covariate. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of motivational interviewing and cognitive therapy techniques with a university counseling center substance abuse group and the extent to which group members' levels of reactance influence the treatment outcome. There were 35 college students approximately 18-25 years of age in six groups with an average of approximately six members. Outcome scores were measured by the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-3 (SASSI-3) Face-Valid Alcohol (FVA) and Symptoms (SYM) subscales. Therapeutic Reactance Scale (TRS) scores were entered as a covariate. It was hypothesized that the motivational interviewing group would lead to a reduction in substance misuse as evidenced by significant differences between pre- and post-test scores on the FVA and SYM subscales on the SASSI-3. The motivational interviewing group was expected to have a significant reduction in the FVA and SYM scores on the SASSI-3 as compared to the post-test cognitive therapy group FVA and SYM scores, respectively. When controlling for reactance, individuals were expected to have a significant reduction in pre- and post-test SASSI-3 FVA and SYM subscale scores. Results indicated a nonsignificant multivariate effect for the motivational interviewing and cognitive therapy groups. Contrary to expectation, substance abuse scores increased in five of the six intervention groups. Implications for substance abuse intervention and measurement of substance abuse symptoms are discussed.