Youth engaging in substance abusing behaviors face many challenges in their lives, including a decreased ability to succeed with academic demands in school, correlated mental health risk, and destructive behavioral expression (Kliewer, et al., 2016). Schools and communities are aware of how drug abuse impacts students yet, for a variety of reasons (e.g., lack of resources, political pressures, limited training), many of the programs put in place in schools to address youth substance abuse do not accurately reflect evidence-based practices and are ineffective in addressing the problem (Winters, et al., 2014). Many school-based interventions are also reactive, punitive and limited in scope. If we are to be best prepared to help the youth impacted by these problems, we need to “put egos on the shelf” and be open to an overhaul of how interventions are designed and implemented in schools and school psychologists are primed to be the change agents spearheading this type of initiative (Plotts & Lasser, 2013). Luckily there are a number of opportunities for positive change and intervention points that can help us effectively address substance abuse related challenges in the schools and we shall explore “What Can We Do?” in this workshop.
Effective behavior change programs for youth, including substance abuse prevention and intervention programs, share commonalities such as clear presentation of information, fostering motivation to change, offering skills training and practice, and promotion of self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy (Flannery, et al., 2014). School psychologists, and other school-based clinicians, are uniquely trained and positioned to engage in effective behavior change interventions and also have potential to be the leaders in development of substance abuse intervention in schools that actually works (Reed, et al, 2015). Unfortunately, outside of a small group of professionals specifically trained in substance abuse interventions, most school-based clinicians such as school psychologists have not had enough (if any) training in this area (Ilgen, et al, 2011). Skill development of effective substance abuse interventions is crucial for school psychologists to be better armed to fight the behavioral, mental health and academic impairments linked to student drug usage (Plotts & Lasser, 2013). In this session we will specifically look at ways to foster skill development for school psychologists engaged in substance abuse education and intervention efforts. We will also examine recent research findings related to adolescent substance abuse, school-based interventions and lasting behavior change (Boendermaker, et al., 2015; Schinke, et al., 2016). Intervention concepts and practices that foster self-efficacy and actual change practices, and can be employed in participants’ schools in a practical manner, will be introduced and discussed as well.
1. Identify up-to-date data on adolescent substance abuse and know how to apply this knowledge in a practical fashion in systemic interventions and collaborative consultations.
2. Explore new areas of dual diagnosis and mental health interventions designed for school settings to develop social and life skills.
3. Consider and implement ways to help colleagues adopt a proactive stance towards substance abuse intervention in schools that fosters self-esteem, self-efficacy and lasting behavior change.
4. Develop at least one practical application for trial in one’s own school with a focus on prevention and responsive services for youth with substance concerns.
Program Code: ASAS
3 CE Credits
Dan Jacobs, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist on the core faculty in the School Psychology Department at William James College and has a private therapy and consulting practice, Jacobs Psychological and Consulting Services, based in Andover, MA where he helps youth and adults address mental health and dual diagnosis concerns. He trains and consults nationally around behavioral change opportunities in schools and programs. He is formerly the Director of the Partial Hospital Programs at Salem Hospital in Salem, MA and has worked for many years to address challenges brought on by behavioral, mental health, and substance abuse concerns.