A tailored cognitive behavioral program for juvenile justice-referred females at risk of substance use and delinquency: A pilot quasi-experimental trial [2019]

This pilot quasi-experimental trial tested a gender-responsive cognitive behavioral group intervention with 87 court-involved female adolescents (5 juvenile courts) who were at indicated risk for substance use disorder. Participants in the intervention (n = 57) received twice weekly group sessions for 10 weeks (20 sessions) focused on building emotional, thought and behavior regulation skills and generalizing these skills to relationally-based scenarios (GOAL: Girls Only Active Learning). Youth in the control condition (n = 30) received services as usual, which included non-gender-specific aggression management training, individual counseling and no services. The GOAL program was found to be acceptable to youth and parents and feasible to implement within a juvenile court setting using skilled facilitators. Compared to services as usual, the program significantly and meaningfully reduced self-reported delinquent behavior (β = 0.84, p < 0.05) over 6 months, and exhibited trend level effects for reduced substance use (β = 0.40, p = 0.07). The program had mixed or no effects on family conflict and emotion regulation skills. These findings are discussed in light of treatment mechanisms and gender-responsive services.

Sarah C. Walker, Mylien Duong, Christopher Hayes, Lucy Berliner, Leslie D. Leve, David C. Atkins, Jerald R. Herting, Asia S. Bishop, Esteban Valencia
PLOS ONE, November 7, 2019