Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Melinda Haley


Individuals who sell drugs are often mandated by legal forces to substance abuse treatment because of their criminal offenses and the belief they may have a drug problem. Previous researchers have noted this population may be disruptive in the treatment process, but it has not been explored in depth. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to learn the lived experiences of counselors who work with individuals who report a primary problem of selling drugs, not substance abuse, who are mandated to a substance abuse treatment program. Thirteen semi structured interviews were conducted with counselors who have worked with individuals who sell drugs that were mandated to participate in a correctional-based therapeutic community substance abuse treatment program. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed with the assistance of NVivo for meaning and themes. Data were examined through the theoretical lens of the social learning theory (SLT). The results of the study indicated counselors were prepared for their jobs through education and training to have longevity in working in a correctional environment and provided treatment services. The counselors found that individuals who sell drugs had a history substance use, which the individuals minimized. During treatment, counselors sought to challenge individuals who sell drugs to think and explore the effects of their behaviors. Counselors found individuals who sell drugs were able to engage in treatment to avoid negative consequences. The results of this research can encourage positive social change by initiating a discussion about assessments prior to drug treatment, characteristics of drug treatment program participants, and counselor training to improve quality of drug treatment services provided.