Voices Lite

2  — Supported by Research Evidence
2  — Supported by Research Evidence

About This Program

Target Population: School- and justice-referred girls ages 12-17

For children/adolescents ages: 12 – 17

Program Overview

Voices Lite: A Program of Self-Discovery and Empowerment for Girls addresses the unique needs of adolescent girls and young women. This is a shorter 12-session version of the full 18-session Voices: A Program of Self-Discovery and Empowerment for Girls. The program includes modules on self, connecting with others, healthy living, and the journey ahead. Topics include bullying, the pressures of social media, gender exploration, and binge drinking. Texting, social media, and online or “in real life” (IRL) friends also included.

The facilitator’s guide includes background information about young women, gender-responsive principles, and the theoretical foundation of the program. It provides information about conducting the twelve group sessions that are the core of the program (the structure and content for each topic and activity), as well as a program overview and lists of materials needed for the sessions. The program materials also can be used to train staff members in working with girls.

The participant’s journal utilizes an established process called Interactive Journaling®. In the context of girls’ lives, structured journaling provides an outlet for creativity, personal expression, exploration, and application of new concepts and skills.

Program Goals

The goals of Voices Lite are:

  • Reduce frequency of substance use
  • Reduce symptoms of depression
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduce posttraumatic stress symptoms
  • Develop healthy interpersonal skills
  • Develop decision making skills

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Voices Lite.

Essential Components

The essential components of Voices Lite: A Program of Self-Discovery and Empowerment for Girls include:

  • As a group intervention, it can have 6-12 girls per group with one facilitator and consists of four modules with specific topic areas for each of the 12 sessions. It can also be used in individual work.
  • Module A - Self (4 sessions):
    • Session 1: Who Am I?
    • Session 2: My Life Story
    • Session 3: Breaking the Silence
    • Session 4: The World Girls Live In
  • Module B - Connecting with Others (5 sessions):
    • Session 5: Communication
    • Session 6: My Family & Mothers and Daughters
    • Session 7: Dating, Sexuality, and Healthy Relationships, Part 1
    • Session 8: Dating, Sexuality, and Healthy Relationships, Part 2
    • Session 9: Abusive Relationships
  • Module C - Healthy Living [Body, Mind and Spirit] (2 sessions):
    • Session 10: Alcohol and Other Drugs
    • Session 11: Spirituality
  • Module D - The Journey Ahead (1 session):
    • Session 12: Crossroads and Packing for My Journey

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Voices Lite directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Female 12–17 years old who may have experienced substance misuse and/or trauma as a result of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical neglect, or exposure to domestic violence

Recommended Intensity:

One or two 60-minute groups per week

Recommended Duration:

12 sessions (6 weeks or 12 weeks depending on frequency of sessions)

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • Justice Setting (Juvenile Detention, Jail, Prison, Courtroom, etc.)
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


Voices Lite includes a homework component:

Girls have a journal to process their group experience and practice skills.


Voices Lite has materials available in languages other than English:

French, Portuguese, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Facilitator’s guide
  • Flip chart
  • Journals
  • Room with chairs in a circle
  • A group facilitator
  • Art supplies for collage work

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Experience with adolescents and group work, or a college graduate

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

Manual Information:

  • Covington. S. (2021). Voices Lite: A program of self-discovery and empowerment for girls. Center for Gender & Justice.

The Voices Lite facilitator guide can be purchased by contacting the program representative (see information at bottom of page).

The standard Voices workbooks that work with the Voices Lite facilitator guide can be purchased by contacting kim@stephaniecovington.com.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training can be provided onsite or virtually. There are also trainings available at various sites in California and other parts of the country. The Covington Books training calendar (which includes Voices Lite training) can be found at https://www.stephaniecovington.com/training/speaking-and-training-schedule/.

Number of days/hours:

Generally, 2 days (8 hours per day) onsite or 4 days (4 hours per day) virtually

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Voices Lite.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Voices Lite as listed below:

Consultation and technical assistance are optional and can be contracted for a specific time period, depending on the needs of the agency. Formal support can be provided for implementation issues, facilitator refresher courses, use of fidelity measures, leadership coaching, and trouble-shooting any challenges regarding implementation. Consultations may include onsite observation, Zoom meetings, email communication, and telephone calls.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Voices Lite as listed below:

The Fidelity Instrument (a checklist with a Likert scale) and Implementation Guidelines can be used in a variety of ways: a self-report checklist; a self-report checklist to compare with a checklist completed by an observer; checklist used with video recordings. Fidelity Instrument and Implementation Guidelines are available for a small additional fee. Please reach out to the program contact listed at the bottom of the page for more information.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are no implementation guides or manuals for Voices Lite.

Implementation Cost

There are no studies of the costs of Voices Lite.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Voices Lite.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Tolou-Shams, M., Dauria, E. F., Folk, J., Shumway, M., Marshall, B. D. L., Rizzo, C. J., Messina, N., Covington, S., Haack, L. M., Chaffee, T., & Brown, L. K. (2021). VOICES: An efficacious trauma-informed, gender-responsive cannabis use intervention for justice and school-referred girls with lifetime substance use history. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 228, Article 108934. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108934

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 113


  • Age — Mean=15.7 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 47 Latinx, 21 Black, 17 Multi-Racial, 14 White, 8 Asian, 2 Middle Eastern/North African, 2 Native American, and 2 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status —  Participants were girls with a history of substance use referred from juvenile justice and school systems.

Location/Institution: Two Northern California counties

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
(To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations) The purpose of the study was to test the efficacy of VOICES [now called Voices Lite: A Program of Self-Discovery and Empowerment for Girls]— a 12-session, weekly trauma-informed, gender-responsive substance use intervention—in reducing substance use and HIV/STI risk behaviors among justice- and school-referred girls. Participants were randomly assigned to the VOICES versus GirlHealth (attention control). Measures utilized include the Adolescent Risk Behavior Assessment (ARBA), the 24-item Brief Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire, the 21-item Brief Marijuana Consequences Scale, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), the National Stressful Events Survey PTSD Short Scale (NSESSS), the National Youth Survey-Self-Reported Delinquency, and urine toxicology screens. Results indicate that girls randomized to VOICES reported significantly less cannabis use over 9-month follow-up relative to the control condition, but there were no between group differences over time in HIV/STI risk behavior. Girls in both conditions reported fewer psychiatric symptoms and delinquent acts over time. Limitations include all data, with the exception of urine toxicology results, were provided via adolescent self-report; only 51% of youth attended more than 9 sessions; and some of the analyses may have been under-powered to detect statistically significant effects.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: 3 and 6 months.

Additional References

Mundo Aflora Institute. (2020). Voices Report 2020. São Paulo, Brazil: Author.

Covington, S. (2005, December/January). The Voices program for girls: Theoretical foundations and program overview. Civic Research Institute, Women, Girls & Criminal Justice, 6(1).

Contact Information

Stephanie S. Covington, PhD
Title: LCSW
Agency/Affiliation: Center for Gender & Justice
Phone: (858) 454-8528

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: December 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: September 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: September 2023