Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Eric F. Wagner

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Linda Sobell

Third Advisor's Name

Mark Macgowan

Fourth Advisor's Name

Andres Gil

Date of Defense



Increased treatment retention among substance abusing individuals has been associated with reduced drug use, fewer arrests, and decreased unemployment, as well as a reduction in health risk behaviors. This longitudinal study examined the predictors of client retention for alternative to prison substance abuse treatment programs through assessing the roles of motivational factors and the client-worker relationship. The sample was comprised of 141 male felony offenders who were legally mandated to community based long-term residential drug treatment programs.

The primary measures used in the study were the consecutive days a participant remained in treatment, Stages of Change Readiness Model and Treatment Eagerness Scale (SOCRATES), the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI), and The Readiness Ruler. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted for four hypotheses (a) participants who are more motivated to change at the time of entry will remain in treatment longer, (b) participants who have a strong therapeutic alliance will remain in treatment a greater number of consecutive days than participants who have weaker therapeutic alliance, (c) motivation to change, as measured at treatment entry, will be positively related to therapeutic alliance, (d) during the course of treatment variation in motivation to change will be predicted by the therapeutic alliance.

Results support the following conclusions: Among clients in alternative-to prison programs the number of days in treatment is positively related to their motivation to change. The therapeutic alliance is not a predictor of the number of days in treatment. Motivation to change, particularly recognition of a drug problem, is positively related to the therapeutic alliance. Changes in motivation to change in response to treatment are positively related to the therapeutic alliance among clients in an alternative to prison substance abuse treatment programs. These results carry forward prior research and have implications for social work practice, research, and social welfare policy.





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