Motivational Enhancement Therapy & Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MET/CBT 5 or 12 Sessions)

Intervention Basics 

MET/CBT combines the effective use of Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The number 5 or 12 indicates the number of sessions, which include both individual and group sessions for teens and young adults. This method of treatment provides ways in which clients are motivated to change, training tips for building the skills necessary to increase social support, how to engage in non-drug related activities, and avoidance and coping mechanisms to deal with any potential relapse issues. 

MET/CBT is seen as beneficial for adolescents due to its less directive, non-confrontational approach in teaching coping skills. It also incorporates the power of peer influence into group sessions, which has proven successful.

Expectations of Sessions: 
5 or 12 sessions – initial two sessions are 60-minute individual sessions, focused on Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET); the remaining sessions (either 3 or 7 sessions) are typically 75-minute group sessions which incorporate Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 

Recommended Populations

  • Youth ages of 12 - 18 but has also been used up to age 22

It is important to note that MET/CBT 5 or 12 has not been successful with adolescents who:

  • Require inpatient treatments
  • Demonstrate severe conduct disorder
  • Possess poly-substance dependence problems
  • Experience social anxiety and are unable to participate in group sessions
  • Possess an acute psychological disorder that affects their participation in the sessions

Special Considerations for Juvenile Drug Courts 

JDC teams should keep in mind that this intervention will require more supervision while the youth is in drug court, since there may be only five sessions (or twelve) for which teams will get feedback from the treatment provider.
MET/CBT 5 or 12 works best when delivered over a shorter period of time, so it is important for the youth to move through treatment and sessions as scheduled, rather than allowing the treatment to stretch out for long periods of time. Feedback, by case managers, to the treatment provider and the court will be essential in determining the need for additional treatment after the initial five sessions. If additional sessions are not needed, the team will need to devise ways to keep the youth engaged in continuing care or supportive services following MET/CBT 5. 

Engagement Strategies

The first two sessions (focusing on MET) are critical to engaging youth in the process, so JDC teams should structure program and phase componants that will enhance this process. In addition, quickly getting the youth enrolled in treatment and attending these sessions is extremely important. In practice, JDC teams should develop a flowchart (in collaboration with treatment providers) to help this process go smoothly (i.e., take care of transportation issues before they occur).
Although MET/CBT 5 or 12 does not include a family component, during the community-based trials, many treatment providers engaged families in either a family night or a family session since involvement of the family in juvenile drug court has been proven to increase retention and positive outcomes. 
If MET/CBT 5 or 12 is new  to the JDC program and team, there may be some skepticism invovled regardiing the effectiveness of the modality (due to the shortness of the treatment). Members of the team should read the article from the Cannibus Youth Treatment study to familiarize themselves with the outcomes.  The study can be found in Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 27 (2004) 197– 213.

Implementation and Training

Visit SAMHSA's website to research costs and training opportunities. 
For more detailed information regarding research and replications associated with MET/CBT 5 or 12, visit: