Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA’s CAPT Launches SAPST for Native Americans

On April 16-19, SAMHSA’s CAPT delivered a new version of the Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST), adapted for Native American participants. The SAPST is a foundational course for entry-level professionals, covering the latest prevention concepts and skills. The original training, launched in June 2012, comprises a four day, on-site training preceded by a five-hour online component. The new, adapted version maintains the same structure but has been revised to reflect the unique needs of prevention practitioners working in and with tribal communities.

“When it comes to trainings, ‘one size’ never ‘fits all’”, explains Libby Cole, the CAPT project associate overseeing revisions to the training. “But for trainings like the SAPST, which emphasize skills building and application, ‘audience fit’ is particularly important.” To this end, CAPT staff members have worked closely with an advisory team of Native practitioners to make sure that the adapted training reflects Native culture, experiences, and learning styles. For example, the adapted SAPST allows more time for discussion than the original training, and grounds the training content in ‘tribal realities’ such as role of the Tribal Council in guiding prevention decisions and ‘talking circles” as a key approach to collecting and sharing information.

The April training was hosted by the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Lumi, Washington, for staff members funded under Nooksack’s new Strategic Prevention Framework Tribal Incentive Grant, community partners, and representatives from neighboring tribes. Feedback was solicited from both participants and trainers, and will be reviewed in conjunction with feedback from an earlier pilot, hosted by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Bemidji, Michigan, to inform the development of a finalized curriculum. 

“Each time we deliver the training we learn something new,” says Cole. “The exciting part is figuring out how to use what we’ve learned to strengthen the materials, or refine the training design, to create a training that truly meets the needs of the audiences we serve.”

The CAPT will be delivering the SAPST for Native Americans June 11-14 for representatives from the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

For more information, contact Libby Cole at



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