Motivational Enhancement Therapy in African Americans

When it comes to substance abuse treatment, there are a variety of therapy models that a facility can use, each with its own strong points. A good treatment program will be designed to meet the specific needs of each individual patient.

MET Study

A new study looked at the effectiveness of one kind of treatment approach among African Americans. The study was done by the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychology, and it was published in this month’s “Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology”. The study looked at results from the Clinical Trials Network of the NIDA over a period of 4 months, comparing the effectiveness of Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) to counseling as usual.

MET is an approach that focuses on behavioral change to get the patient to really prepare themselves to live a substance-free life. Researcher LaTrice Montgomery said, “The idea of MET is for counselors to help patients build motivation and strengthen commitment to behavior change. One technique that is commonly used in MET to facilitate this process is the use of decisional balance exercises which help patients examine the pros and cons of substance use.” (1) With MET, the therapist’s job is to help the patient find reasons to want to change.

However, the results of this study were not favorable for any therapy model. African American women did stay in treatment longer with MET, but their substance abuse issues continued. MET did not positively impact African American men at all. “I think MET has a lot of value, in terms of being non-confrontational and non-judgmental as well as supporting self-efficacy,” Montgomery said. “We found that the women stayed in MET treatment longer, but they didn’t reduce their substance use. That’s where my research is taking me now.” (1)

More Therapy Model Studies

There are actually very few studies like this one that look at the effectiveness of different therapies, especially among certain groups of people. More studies like this one, and studies that go into greater depth would be beneficial to everyone, as patients could more accurately be connected with programs that really work.

Each treatment facility should look at their own results to determine which therapy models work among their patients. The real key, however, is to tailor the programs to meet the needs of individuals. For example, if it is found that MET is very successful among a certain demographic of people, therapists would use it more often. However, they would still not want to use this approach across the board without looking at each individual’s needs and wants, because some people will require something a little different. When seeking out a treatment facility, patients and family members should be sure they are getting an individualized treatment plan designed for them, for the best chance at success.


(1) Research Examines Approaches to Treating Substance Abuse Among African-Americans
New Approach for Substance Abuse among African-Americans

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