Group therapy for latency-age children of alcoholics: A treatment outcome study

Shirl Ann Davis-Susser, Pace University


The present study evaluated the effectiveness of an eight-week prevention-oriented group treatment program for children of alcoholics (COAs) between the ages of 6 and 11. There were 30 children in the treatment group and 10 in the comparison group. Personality and behavioral data were collected at pre-test and post-test via three self-report scales and one parent rating scale. The Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS), the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI), and the Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale (N-SLCS) were used to assess the children's experience of anxiety, depression and locus of control. Parents completed the Revised Behavior Problem Checklist (RBPC) as well as a COA Behavior Scale. Demographic data were collected on each child. Behavioral observations were recorded on each child in each session in an effort to identify the "active ingredients" related to "good outcome" on each of the outcome variables. Both parent and child feedback on program effectiveness was elicited at post-test for those children in the treatment group. Analyses of covariance using pre-test scores as covariates were used to compare the treatment and comparison groups on each variable. No statistically significant between group differences were found. Evaluation of the behavioral observations and the parental feedback, however, did provide some support for use of COA groups. Analyses of the behavioral observations did identify "active ingredients" related to "good outcome" on the RCMAS, the CDI, and the N-SLCS. That is, children who identified with the "COA experience" evidenced greater reduction in anxiety and depression. Children who perceived the drinking as the parent's issue evidenced increased internalization in locus of control. Participation was seen by the parents as having fostered the children's verbal expressiveness and improved parent-child communication. Regression analyses were conducted in an effort to identify extra-group factors predictive of change on the outcome variables. Findings indicated that exposure to parental relapse was predictive of higher scores on the RCMAS and the CDI. Scores on the RBPC indicated that contact with an actively alcoholic parent correlated with behavioral problems whereas established parental sobriety was predictive of reduced behavioral problems. Implications of the study as it relates to school-community psychology were discussed. Recommendations for further research were proposed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Davis-Susser, Shirl Ann, "Group therapy for latency-age children of alcoholics: A treatment outcome study" (1990). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9104105.



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