Counseling and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of Award


Degree Level


LCSH subject




Proquest Document ID





St. Mary's University

Size or duration

xix, 261 pages

Document Type


First Advisor

Northrup, Jason

Second Advisor

Tubbs, Carolyn

Third Advisor

Wilkens, Nicholas


The purpose of this study is to better understand the perceptions of maternal self-efficacy among mothers in substance abuse recovery. A phenomenological research design using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews captured the lived experiences of mothers attending outpatient drug and alcohol treatment. For this study, the researcher distributed approved flyers to designated outpatient treatment centers to voluntarily recruit mothers for purposeful sampling. Eligibility requirements include women at least eighteen (18) years or older, at least one living child, attended prior rehabilitation services, and display good mental status after assessed by the researcher with the Mini Mental Status Exam. During the interview, the researcher collected demographical data and audio-taped the interview. Once interviews were completed, the researcher transcribed the audio-recorded interviews into a digital format and checked for accuracy. The researcher uploaded the digital transcriptions into a qualitative data analysis software program. Moustakas' (1994) modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method assisted in analyzing the transcriptions and identifying emerging themes. During data analysis, the "essence" evolved suggesting the lived experiences of mothers in outpatient substance abuse treatment: The integration process between good mothering beliefs and practices with sober living. The depicted essence formed from four identified categories: What It Means to Be a Good Mother, Consequences of Addiction on Motherhood, Being a Mother During Recovery, and Risk Factors. Within these categories, 11 themes emerged--Providing a Stable and Safe Environment, Nurturing the Relationship, Being a Good Role Model, Impact of Addiction on Me, Impact of Addiction on My Children, Hitting Rock Bottom, Treatment's Role in Staying Sober, Fixing the Damage, Discovering My Purpose, Types of Trauma, and Life Stressors. Also, an additional 39 integral subthemes were identified. Member-checking with participants and peer debriefing was conducted to validate results. From the confirmed data, a depiction of the essence of the phenomenon is portrayed. This study concludes by discussing limitations, implications to clinical practice for mental health professionals, and recommendations for future research.