Original Article

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 697-705

First online:

Reliability of Therapist Self-Report on Treatment Targets and Focus in Family-Based Intervention

  • Aaron HogueAffiliated withTreatment Research Division, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University Email author 
  • , Sarah DauberAffiliated withTreatment Research Division, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University
  • , Craig E. HendersonAffiliated withSam Houston State University
  • , Howard A. LiddleAffiliated withCenter for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

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Reliable therapist-report methods appear to be an essential component of quality assurance procedures to support adoption of evidence-based practices in usual care, but studies have found weak correspondence between therapist and observer ratings of treatment techniques. This study examined therapist reliability and accuracy in rating intervention target (i.e., session participants) and focus (i.e., session content) in a manual-guided, family-based preventive intervention implemented with 50 inner-city adolescents at risk for substance use. A total of 106 sessions selected from three phases of treatment were rated via post-session self-report by the participating therapist and also via videotape by nonparticipant coders. Both groups estimated the amount of session time devoted to model-prescribed treatment targets (adolescent, parent, conjoint) and foci (family, school, peer, prosocial, drugs). Therapists demonstrated excellent reliability with coders for treatment targets and moderate to high reliability for treatment foci across the sample and within each phase. Also, therapists did not consistently overestimate their degree of activity with targets or foci. Implications of study findings for fidelity assessment in routine settings are discussed.


Therapist self-report Quality assurance Treatment fidelity Treatment targets Therapy focus Usual care