Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Older people-Substance use, Older people-Drug testing, Medical screening, Substance abuse-Rehabilitation, Behavioral assessment, Screening techniques, Substance misuse, Older adults, Assessment, Treatment, Alcohol misuse, New York City Metropolitan area


This qualitative study examined how New York State licensed clinicians approach the initial assessment and ongoing treatment of older adults (55+) identified to be struggling with alcohol or substance misuse issues. The research questions specifically asked: Do clinicians assess for alcohol and substance misuse in the older adult patients they serve? What are the mediating factors within this assessment and treatment process? This study was initiated in an exploratory fashion because of the limited amount of research available which investigates the relationship between clinicians' attitudes and approaches to this work with the rapidly growing older adult populations they serve. Given the constricted amount of literature available on this topic, a phenomenological approach was employed. Twelve licensed mental health clinicians, practicing for at least a year in the New York City Metropolitan area, were telephonically interviewed. The demographic characteristics of each are organized in Appendix E, and further expanded upon in the findings and discussion sections of this research report. In line with a phenomenological approach, the thematic analysis of participants' responses was employed. The findings produced a depiction of therapeutic practice aligned with the available research: (1) clinicians often minimize assessment of alcohol and substance misuse practices in ever-growing older adult populations; (2) clinicians report a lacking standardization of preventative protocol for the assessment of alcohol and substance misuse in older adult populations; and (3) the therapeutic methods employed by clinicians in consultation with older adults, are viewed as needing the appropriate modifications in order to better provide comprehensive mental health treatment.




[iii], 42 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 32-34)