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Guiding Good Choices

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A family competency training program to enhance parenting behaviors and skills, to enhance effective child management behaviors and parent-child interactions and bonding, to teach children skills to resist peer influence, and to reduce adolescent problem behaviors.

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Depression
  • Illicit Drug Use

Program Type

  • Alcohol Prevention and Treatment
  • Drug Prevention/Treatment
  • Parent Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 2.6-3.1

Program Information Contact

Guiding Good Choices
Channing Bete Company, Inc.
One Community Place
South Deerfield, MA 01373-0200
Phone: (800) 477-4776

Program Developer/Owner

  • J. David Hawkins, Ph.D.
  • University of Washington

Brief Description of the Program

Guiding Good Choices (GGC) is a family competency training program for parents of children in middle school. The program contains five-sessions, with an average session length of 2 hours each week. Children are required to attend one session that teaches peer resistance skills. The other four sessions are solely for parents and include instruction on: (a) identification of risk factors for adolescent substance abuse and a strategy to enhance protective family processes; (b) development of effective parenting practices, particularly regarding substance use issues; (c) family conflict management; and (d) use of family meetings as a vehicle for improving family management and positive child involvement.

See: Full Description


In a study of families of sixth graders enrolled in 33 rural schools in 19 counties in a Midwestern state:

  • Youth in the GGC (Guiding Good Choices) group who had not initiated substance use at the time of the one-year follow-up were more likely to remain in the no-use group through the two-year follow-up than control group adolescents.
  • Youth in the GGC group who had initiated substance use at the one-year follow-up were more likely to have remained in their one-year follow-up substance use status through the two-year follow-up than control group youth.
  • Although substance use rates increased among all groups over the course of the study, transitions to substance use at the two-year follow-up were significantly lower among intervention group adolescents.
  • At the 3.5-year follow-up, the GGC group showed significantly lower alcohol initiation scores than the control group.
  • At the 3.5-year follow-up, new user proportions were lower (marginally significant) among GGC adolescents than among controls for lifetime drunkenness and lifetime use of marijuana.
  • At the 3.5-year follow-up, among those adolescents who had used alcohol and tobacco during the past month and marijuana during the past year, GGC adolescents had a lower frequency of past month drinking than the control group.
  • PDFY adolescents were 37% less likely to have initiated marijuana use over the course of the study than control youth (marginally significant).
  • At the 3.5-year follow-up, GGC adolescents demonstrated a reduction in the growth of adolescent alcohol use from ages 12 - 15 1/2.
  • Across five waves of data, GGC was significantly associated with a slower rate of increase in polysubstance use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) and general delinquency (e.g., theft, vandalism, violence) over time, compared with controls.
  • From wave 1 to wave 5 (6th to 10th grades), GGC participants had significantly lower rates of increasing alcohol use when compared to controls.
  • From 6th through 12th grade, GGC reduced the rate of increase in depressive symptoms, compared with controls.
  • From wave 1 to wave 6 (6th to 12th grades), participants in the GGC group showed slower overall growth in tobacco use relative to controls (as measured by a tobacco composite use index and lifetime cigarette use).

Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • GGC promoted improvements in the quality of parent-child relationships (only 1 of 6 tests, father only), proactive communication between parent and child, and child management skills (Pilot Study: Spoth et al., 1995; Kosterman et al., 1997).
  • GGC increased protective parenting behaviors, parent-child affective quality, and general child management skills (Efficacy Study: Spoth, Redmond, & Shin, 1998).
  • At a 3.5-year follow-up, PDFY adolescents significantly strengthened parental norms against alcohol and other drug use by adolescents over time (Efficacy Study: Park et al, 2000).

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

The program is designed for use with all ethnic groups, but virtually all of the study participants were Caucasian.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Early initiation of drug use*, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards drug use, Substance use*
  • Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers
  • Family: Family conflict/violence, Neglectful parenting, Parent aggravation, Parental attitudes favorable to drug use, Poor family management*
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Clear standards for behavior, Refusal skills, Skills for social interaction
  • Peer: Interaction with prosocial peers
  • Family: Attachment to parents*, Opportunities for prosocial involvement with parents, Rewards for prosocial involvement with parents

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Guiding Good Choices Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Guiding Good Choices Parent Workshop Leaders are certified through a three day training arranged through the distributor of GGC, the Channing Bete Company, and led by a certified Guiding Good Choices Trainer.

Training Certification Process

Guiding Good Choices Parent Workshop Leaders are certified through a three day training arranged through the distributor of GGC, the Channing Bete Company, and led by a certified Guiding Good Choices Trainer. A certified GGC workshop leader who has conducted the GGC workshop series at least once and who has excellent training skills can become a certified Trainer of Workshop Leaders for Guiding Good Choices. To become a certified Trainer of Workshop Leaders for Guiding Good Choices, the prospective trainer must participate in a four day Training of Trainers and be observed conducting a successful workshop leader training session that meets certification criteria. GGC training is arranged directly with Dr. Dorothy Ghylin-Bennett. She is the lead GGC certified trainer and organizes and arranges the TOT and mentoring observations directly with prospective GGC Trainers of Workshop Leaders.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Guiding Good Choices has been evaluated with two major evaluations with random assignment, one with 9 rural midwestern schools and one with 33 rural midwestern schools. The study population for both evaluations of the program included predominantly Caucasian families from rural areas. Intervention-specific parenting skills measures included those addressing parents' communicating clear and specific rules concerning their child's use of substances, rewarding the child for complying with specific rules concerning use of substances, explaining the consequences of breaking rules to their child, helping their child learn how to express and control his or her anger, and finding ways to keep their child involved in family activities and decisions. General child management skills measures included rewarding positive child behavior, child monitoring, and effective discipline. Models and path analyses were also conducted in order to evaluate the additive effects of strong family attachments and peers' prosocial norms on early adolescent alcohol refusal skills, as well as the protective process models that focus on specific adolescent problem behavior and attitudes. Both self-report and observational measures were used for the analyses. Outcomes have been reported through grade 12.

Peer Implementation Sites

Vaughnetta J. Barton, MSW
Communities in Action
School of Social Work
University of Washington
Mail: Box 354900, Seattle, WA 98195-4900
4101 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA

Dawn Marie Baletka
WR Services
for Navasota Independent School District
3501 Kanati Cove
College Station, TX 77845
(979) 777-9940


Guyll, M., Spoth, R. L., Chao, W., Wickrama, K. A. S., & Russell, D. (2004). Family-focused preventive interventions: Evaluating parental risk moderation of substance use trajectories. Journal of Family Psychology, 18(2), 293-301.

Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J.D., Haggerty, K.P., Spoth, R., & Redmond, C. (2001). Preparing for the Drug Free Years: Session-specific effects of a universal parent-training intervention with rural families. Journal of Drug Education, 31, 47-68.

Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J.D., Haggerty, K.P., & Zhu, K. (1997). Effects of a preventive parent-training intervention on observed family interactions: Proximal outcomes from Preparing for the Drug Free Years. Journal of Community Psychology, 25, 337-352.

Mason, W. A., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., Haggerty, K. P., & Spoth, R. L. (2003). Reducing adolescents' growth in substance use and delinquency: Randomized trial effects of a parent-training prevention intervention. Prevention Science, 4(3), 203-212.

Mason, W. A., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., Haggerty, K. P., Spoth, R. L., & Redmond, C. (2007). Influence of a family-focused substance use preventive intervention on growth in adolescent depressive symptoms. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17(3), 541-564.

Mason, W. A., Kosterman, R., Haggerty, K. P., Hawkins, J. D., Redmond, C., Spoth, R. L., & Shin, C. (2009). Gender moderation and social developmental mediation of the effect of a family-focused substance use preventive intervention on young adult alcohol abuse. Addictive Behaviors, 34, 599-605.

Park, J., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., Haggerty, K. P., Duncan, T. E., Duncan, S. C., & Spoth, R. (2000). Effects of the "Preparing for the Drug Free Years" curriculum on growth in alcohol use and risk for alcohol use in early adolescence. Prevention Science, 1, 125-138.

Redmond, C., Spoth, R., Shin, C., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). Modeling long-term parent outcomes of two universal family-focused preventive interventions: One-year follow-up results. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 975-984.

Spoth, R., Clair, S., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2006). Long-term effects of universal preventive interventions on methamphetamine use among adolescents. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 160, 876-882.

Spoth, R., Clair, S., & Trudeau, L. (2014). Universal family-focused intervention with young adolescents: Effects on health-risking sexual behaviors and STDs among young adults. Prevention Science 15(Supplement 1), S47-S58.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., Haggerty, K., & Ward, T. (1995). A controlled parenting skills outcome study examining individual differences and attendance effects. Journal of Marriage and Family, 57, 449-464.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., Hockaday, C., & Yoo, S. (1996). Protective factors and young adolescent tendency to abstain from alcohol use: A model using two waves of intervention study data. American Journal of Community Psychology, 24, 749-771.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (2001). Randomized trial of brief family interventions for general populations: Reductions in adolescent substance use four years following baseline. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 627-642.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., Shin, C., & Azevedo, K. (2004). Brief family intervention effects on adolescent substance initiation: School-level growth curve analyses 6 years following baseline. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3), 535-542.

Spoth, R., Reyes, M. L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (1999). Assessing a public health approach to delay onset and progression of adolescent substance use: Latent transition and log-linear analyses of longitudinal family preventive intervention outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(5),619-630.

Spoth, R., Trudeau, L., Guyll, M., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2009). Universal intervention effects on substance use among young adults mediated by delayed adolescent substance initiation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(4), 620-632.

Spoth, R., Yoo, S., Kahn, J.H., & Redmond, C. (1996). A model of the effects of protective parent and peer factors on early adolescent alcohol refusal skills. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 14, 373-394.