Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

The Process of Group Drug Counseling for Cocaine Dependence

The Center for Psychotherapy Research completed a four-year study designed to improve treatments for cocaine dependence. The goal of this research was to determine the effective elements in group drug counseling for this disorder by investigating what goes on during group drug counseling treatment sessions.  The study used videotapes of sessions collected in the NIDA Collaborative Cocaine Study.

Purpose and Overview

Group drug counseling is the primary treatment modality used in community settings for the treatment of cocaine dependence, as well as alcohol and most other substances of abuse. Despite the prevalence of this modality and data on the efficacy of group approaches to the treatment of substance use disorders, little is known about how the treatment works to achieve positive outcomes. Thus, research is needed on the mechanism of action of group treatments for substance abuse.

Drawing upon research on individual drug counseling and group therapy for non-substance abuse problems, the "Group Drug Counseling for Cocaine Dependence" study examined several theoretically important therapy process variables as predictors of the outcome of group drug counseling for cocaine dependence. Group drug counseling sessions were drawn from an archival tape collection from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Cocaine Collaborative Treatment Study.


  1. Crits-Christoph, P., Johnson, J., Gallop, R., Connolly Gibbons, M.B.,Hamilton, J., & Tu, X. (2011). A generalizability theory analysis of groupprocess ratings in the treatment of cocaine dependence. PsychotherapyResearch, 21, 252-266.
  2. Johnson, J. E., Connolly Gibbons, M. B., & Crits-Christoph, P. (2011).Gender, race, and group behavior in group drug treatment. Drug and AlcoholDependence, 119, e39– e45. 
  3. Crits-Christoph, P., Johnson, J., Connolly Gibbons, M.B., & Gallop, R.(2013). Process predictors of the outcome of group drug counseling. Journalof Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(1), 23-34.

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