Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Julie A. Laser, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Martha Parker

Third Advisor

David Blair

Fourth Advisor

Shelley Smith-Acuna


Adolescent, Drug, Family, Substance, Systems, Therapy


Family systems therapy is a way of working with individuals, couples, families, or a group of people that emphasizes relationships and a person's/family's greater "system" as important factors in establishing change and health (Haley, 1976; Minuchin, 1974). Treating adolescent substance abuse with family systems therapy has been demonstrated in the literature as being an effective method of intervention (Coatsworth, Santisteban, McBride, & Szapocznik, 2001; Kumfer & Alvarado, 2003; Leichtling, Gabriel, Lewis & Vander Ley, 2006; Liddle, 2002; Liddle et al., 2001; Rowe & Liddle, 2003), as the various ecological and epidemiological factors associated with adolescent substance abuse can be addressed effectively with family systems work (Cunningham & Henggler, 1999; Kaufman & Kaufman, 1979; Liddle et al., 2001; Szapocznik & Williams, 2000). The dissertation used a sample of 71 families who participated in a family systems therapy intensive outpatient substance abuse program in the greater metro-Denver area from 2006 to mid-2008. The youth, aged 13-17 years old, tended to be highly involved with substance abuse, were not motivated to change, and were not interested in participating in treatment. A three-month follow-up survey was evaluated and demonstrated that both youth and parents/guardians found that that family systems therapy was effective in increasing the family's functioning, decreasing the youth's substance use, increasing the youth's school performance, and decreasing the youth's court involvement.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Darin J. Wallis


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

235 p.


Social work