Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1461-1480

Substance Use Disorders

  • Brad DonohueAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada
  • , Kendra TracyAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada
  • , Ashli J. SheidowAffiliated withMedical University of South Carolina


Although adolescent substance abuse has decreased during the past decade, its consequences to family, society and youth who abuse substances are devastatingly problematic. Youth afflicted with this disorder are often highly resistant to treatment and pose unique challenges to therapists, including difficulties achieving diagnostic accuracy, rapport, and development of social support networking. To address these difficulties clinical research involving adolescent substance abuse has become increasingly sophisticated during the past decade, resulting in a growing body of knowledge and skill sets in mental health professionals treating this disorder. Therefore, this chapter begins with a full description of the disorder, including various co-occurring problem behaviors, prevalence and important issues leading to its development and maintenance. We then underscore evidence-based methods that have been found to effectively identify, formally diagnose, and functionally assess substance abuse in adolescents. We also describe factors that often complicate treatment planning, as well as solutions to these problems. Evidence-based treatments for adolescent substance use are reviewed, particularly family- and behavioral-treatments, due to their efficacy. Finally, clinical and administrative competency is extensively reviewed, both in the degree to which mental health professionals progress from novices to experts, as well as the progression that naturally and empirically occurs from the point of intake to treatment termination. Given the emphasis on empirical skill development in this chapter, we review several training models that have demonstrated effectiveness in competency at the novice and expert level.