Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Geneva Gray


The cost of the misuse of drugs is significant. The impact is felt across multiple systems across America and is covered mostly by federal, state, and local governments. Women comprise a significant portion of the persons using illicit drugs. Treatment is an effective way of reducing substance misuse. However, research into the efficacy of treatment for women lag that of men. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that women receiving substance abuse treatment from a man had shorter stays in treatment and poorer outcomes than those who had a female counselor while in treatment. Phenomenological and relational-cultural theory (RCT) was used both as the design and conceptual lens to examine the experiences of 6 women, 18 and older, who had completed substance abuse treatment with a male as a primary counselor. Collection of data occurred through semistructured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Thematic analysis yielded five main ideas: (1) rapport-building skills, (2) genuineness, (3) empathy; (4) flexibility; and (5) acceptance. In addition to this, the women were questioned to whether they were offered a choice of a man or woman for a counselor. The result is that participants indicated that having a man as a counselor gave them an opportunity to interact with a positive role model, however, they suggested that women be offered a choice in the gender of counselor and accommodated whenever possible. The findings of this study will be made available to stakeholders of substance abuse treatment programs and in public health journals to serve as a basis for further research. The implication for social change is that the information contributes to sustaining women in treatment and improving treatment outcomes.