Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work Student Research Symposium

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Daniel Feagans

Date of Submission

December 2019


Treatment providers in Virginia are required by law to offer counseling or referrals to all clients receiving medication-assisted opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment (American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2016; Medical Society of Virginia, 2018). Prescribing physicians widely regard counseling as a critical component of medication-assisted OUD treatment (Lin, Lofwall, Walsh, & Knudsen, 2019), and clients perceive counseling to be among the most important factors promoting recovery from opioid dependence (Hay, Huhn, Tompkins, & Dunn, 2019). Research investigating the efficacy of counseling as an OUD treatment component, however, has been equivocal to date (Brown, 2018; Dugosh et al., 2016). The current study explored associations between counseling type, counseling attendance rates, and treatment duration among a convenience sample of 71 clients receiving buprenorphine-assisted OUD treatment at a Richmond, Virginia outpatient clinic. Among early phase clients (in treatment for 1 to 11 months) only, counseling type was significantly associated with treatment length (p = .019). Among all clients, counseling attendance rate was significantly associated with treatment length (p = .006). Findings suggest that treatment phase moderates the effects of counseling on retention. While this study corroborates previous research linking counseling to positive OUD treatment outcomes for some clients (Dugosh et al., 2016), results emphasize the need for individualized, client-centered treatment planning with ongoing adjustment according to evolving client needs and treatment goals.

Is Part Of

VCU School of Social Work Student Works