An Investigation Of The Effectiveness Of Assertion Training As A Treatment Modality With Drug Addicts

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Purpose. Much attention has been directed toward the increasing problem of drug abuse, yet there has been little success in the treatment of this problem. The purpose of this research was to study the effect of an assertion training treatment program on certain personality characteristics and behaviors of clients in a residential drug treatment program.It was hypothesized that clients participating in assertion training would learn assertive behavior, lower their social anxiety, and improve their feelings about themselves. It was assumed that their improved method of dealing with interpersonal situations would have a positive effect on their ability to deal with the demands of the overall drug treatment program. Therefore, it was further hypothesized that clients participating in assertion training would commit fewer unacceptable behaviors, have a higher retention rate, and have a higher rating by staff on selected functional variables than clients not involved in this training.Procedures. At the beginning of April, 1980, thirty-six clients at a residential drug treatment program in Miami, Florida, agreed to participate in this study. They were pretested using the Assertion Questionnaire and randomly assigned to assertion training groups or to attention-control groups. The subjects, trainers, and staff were not aware of which group was intended for treatment. Subjects participated in eight sessions over a one-month period. Following this treatment period, they completed a posttreatment assessment which included the Assertion Questionnaire, the Social Anxiety Scale, the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, and the Behavioral Assertion Test. The number of incidents (unacceptable behaviors) over a one-month period following treatment were recorded. Once a week during the one-month period following the completion of training, two staff members at the drug center rated all of the subjects on their work performance, relationship with peers, relationship with staff, participation in therapy programs, and general attitude. At the end of the one month period the retention rate for all clients are examined.Findings. Subjects in the assertion training group were more assertive than subjects in the attention-control group as measured by a paper and pencil measure. However, no significant differences were found to exist between the groups on a behavioral measure of assertiveness nor on the other dependent variables being studied.Conclusions. Assertion training is an effective method for drug clients to learn assertiveness at a cognitive level. Based on results obtained in this study, it cannot be said that assertion training is an effective modality for reducing social anxiety or enhancing self-concept.


Psychology, Clinical

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