Identity as a moderator of guided -self change treatment outcomes with adolescents

Lynn Hernandez, Florida International University


Despite recent calls to examine the possible moderating effects of developmental variables on treatment outcomes with adolescents, most research has continued to focus on age as a main developmental variable. Building upon the theoretical notion that identity development is a central task of adolescence, this study investigated whether adolescents' response to an alcohol and other drug (AOD) use reduction intervention, Guided-Self Change (GSC), was influenced by their approach to self-defining questions and situations. While past research has established associations between maladaptive identity development and alcohol and other drug use, very little research attention has been given to the potential relationship that may exist between identity variables and AOD treatment response. Given GCS's promotion of self-reflective, self-exploring, and problem-focused coping skills as a way of addressing AOD problems, it was hypothesized that adolescents with positive identity development (i.e., greater identity coherence and adaptive identity processing styles) would respond more positively to GCS's change producing therapeutic techniques than their counterparts. This hypothesis was tested with an ethnically diverse sample of 134 adolescents between the ages of 14-18 years who were randomly assigned to either a GSC intervention or a comparison control group. Results revealed that identity development was significantly associated with AOD use, such that adolescents with diffused/avoidant styles and high levels of distress over identity-related issues used more alcohol at the baseline assessment than those with more positive identity development. Results also indicated that while identity distress or identity coherence did not moderate GSC treatment outcomes, high scores for a diffused/avoidant style did moderate treatment outcomes and thus proved to be a significant predictor of treatment response. These results indicate that identity development influences adolescents' alcohol use and that while use of certain approaches to self-defining questions does not predict treatment outcomes, high use for negative approaches does moderate intervention-related change.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Hernandez, Lynn, "Identity as a moderator of guided -self change treatment outcomes with adolescents" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3279226.