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The Therapeutic Process of Addiction and Mental Health


Historically, the work we do within addictions and mental health tends to focus more on symptoms rather than causation. Clients who seek out our services from these populations present with a significantly higher prevalence of trauma. The real architect of the intervention for our clients who are trauma implicated is the ‘worker.’ Our personal wellness, insight and healthy attachment to our clients truly matter in their process of recovery. As clinical workers, who are wanting to be trauma informed, we must reflect on our component of what we bring to the therapeutic experience. As our clients are triggered and react and re-enact historical trauma within our session, so are we as clinicians. Our history and experiences can be helpful, but also can be harmful to the therapeutic work. Our histories, especially when we are not aware, do enter into the work with our clients. Having insight to our counter-transference reactions is critical to a ‘do no harm’ approach, for the highly vulnerable populations we service.

This one day workshop will explore:

  • ‘Use of self’ was an approach and yet the challenges and even risks for ‘use of self’
  • The historical evolution to the understanding of counter-transference as a concept
  • Overview of transference reactions and its potential risks
  • Overview of Counter-Transference Reactions – Type 1 & 2
  • The benefits of empathy and the messiness of empathy in the clinical work
  • Empathic Strain including withdrawal, repression, enmeshment, disequilibrium and overidentification
  • Power of health clinical attachment
  • Trauma Reenactment Syndrome
  • Overview of strategies for the helping professional to recognize, contain & heal event counter-transferencesThis workshop with include videos, personal reflective exercises, breakout groups and clinical knowledge overview of the above stated topics.This workshop is meant for workers who are authentically interested and willing to become internally vulnerable within themselves to better understanding their clinical ‘blind spots’ which operate consciously and subconsciously during their sessions. The goal of this workshop is to gain insight and learn our counter-transference reactions, and how they operate in the therapeutic approach with clients, and once identified how we challenge ourselves to address these counter-transferences so that we ‘do no harm’ to clients.


In this workshop, you will explore multi-model approaches to structuring and strengthening relapse prevention for clients who are in early recovery. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), as well as Mindfulness and Motivation Interviewing therapies are incorporated into this workshop, demonstrating how you can use these approaches to maximize your client’s abilities to enhance their recovery. You will learn the stages of relapse, determinants to relapse, assessment phase, craving/trigger cycle, abstinence violation effect, managing craving and unwanted emotions mindfully, ways to enhance self efficacy and motivation to change using strength-based approaches.This training is suitable for Mental Health and Medical Professionals, as well as Direct Service Workers.

Learning Objectives

  1. Use CBT with relapse prevention and recovery enhancement
  2. Provide a learning overview of relapse prevention theoretical perspectives
  3. Use and apply clinical CBT approaches with relapse prevention
  4. Apply enhancing motivation for recovery through the use of Motivational Interviewing for relapse prevention and recovery enhancement
  5. Provide a clinically and structured approach for relapse prevention
  6. Developing and Individualized Relapse Prevention Plan


This skills-focused, interactive training invites participants to develop their understanding and practice of Motivational Interviewing (MI). Miller and Rollnick’s empirically supported treatment approach helps clinicians understand the dynamics of motivation and identifies skills and interventions that can be used to help clients access and enhance their own desire for positive change. MI has long been recognized as a foundational approach in supporting people to change substance use behaviour and its value in supporting behaviour change more broadly has also been recognized in recent years. This training will enhance participants’ understanding of the spirit of MI and its importance to effective MI practice. MI micro-skills – also known as OARS (open questioning, affirming, reflecting, summarizing) – will be discussed and practiced and MI-specific interventions will be introduced. Common barriers to change and ways to overcome these, as well as the intersection between MI and The Stages of Change (Prochaska and DiClemente) will also be explored.


Recent research has confirmed what addiction treatment providers already knew to be true: the large majority of people who suffer from addiction issues also have a history of trauma and/or victimization. Experiences of trauma can cause lasting psychological and physiological effects including deficiencies in emotional regulation, problem solving and impulse control. This, in turn, can lead to the use of alcohol, drugs and/or addictive behaviours as a “functional fit” to cope with overwhelming emotions, physical dysregulation and other post-traumatic symptoms. This two-day workshop explores the connection between trauma and addiction with a focus on providing knowledge, tools and resources to effectively serve clients who are dealing with both trauma and addiction issues.

Upon completion of this training participants will be able to:

  • explain the link between trauma and addiction, including the neurobiology, physical and
  • emotional responses of trauma and how they intersect with addictions
  • understand the role of compassion fatigue when providing treatment to individuals with trauma/addictions
  • understand addiction as a survival/coping strategy for traumatic memories and symptoms
  • describe best practices for treating trauma
  • teach clients tools and practical strategies to regulate autonomic arousal and trauma-related
  • emotions and body sensations without resorting to addictive behaviours
  • explain and demonstrate strategies for flashback management
  • trauma treatment models
  • review of seek safety model
  • review of CBT, prolong exposure and cognitive processing models for trauma therapy


This all day session will focus on better understanding the mood-food connection and how it affects mental health. Fad dieting, common beliefs around the Standard American Diet and unhealthy eating habits all impact mental health and client with addictive behaviours. Participants will learn how to help their clients and themselves build on mental wellness through understanding: Food-Mood Link, SAD and Light, cravings and carb killers for mood, food and blues, stress and diet, depressed energy and diet, reining in the out of control appetites and eating smart for mental wellness.


The training will overview the effects and withdrawal symptoms of amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, ethyl alcohol and opioids. Introductions of the assessment tools used to assess for the severity of withdrawal symptom will be discussed. The second part of this workshop will focus on the current opioid crisis which is the most challenging forms of addiction facing the Canadian health care system, and a major contributor to the marked rises in opioid-related morbidity and death that Canada has been seeing in recent years. Current best practices and guidelines used to intervene, treat including harm reduction approaches, and prevention will be a reviewed.

7) Becoming a Mindful Practitioner: The Art of Creating Space and “Being With” Your Clients

The ancient art of mindfulness has been practiced for over 2,500 years to address and/or alleviate human suffering. The basic skills of mindfulness focus on three areas, including focusing attention, open monitoring and compassionate acceptance. As practitioners, our clinical focus is to walk “with” our clients in order for them to experience a means of reducing their human suffering. Becoming a mindful therapist allows us the art of walking “with” our clients experientially, fully present and with enhanced awareness. This workshop will explore how one can move in the direction of becoming a mindful-based practitioner within himself or herself, creating a greater openness in how we sit and be with our clients. The art of mindfulness starts within us first before we can share it with others.

8) Mindfulness for Trauma

Combining mindfulness to strengthen emotional regulation with existing empirical supported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments can improve outcomes through:

  • increasing engagement
  • increasing compliance
  • decreasing the level of ruminations in PTSDSeveral psychotherapeutic interventions incorporating training in mindfulness are clinically relevant to traumatic stress. PTSD treatment could benefit from including mindfulness into the therapeutic process. This would include areas such as the neuroscience of mindfulness, assessment instruments for mindfulness, mechanism of mindfulness and the relation between mindfulness and other techniques. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can improve the therapeutic results and the outcome of PTSD clients. Mindfulness can be used in two ways:
  1. As an emotional regulation support technique for existing empirically supported PTSD treatments.
  2. As a stand-alone treatment (mindfulness based cognitive behavior psychotherapies).

This training will provide you with knowledge and practical skills as to how mindfulness can be an effective treatment modality in the work of PTSD, and how clinicians can integrate the use of mindfulness as another multimodal clinical tool when working with PTSD

9) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Essentials for Frontline Workers

This 2 day training for frontline workers, counsellors and health care providers will provide comprehensive overview of CBT essentials and while also offering practical training to enhance the integration of these CBT into practice. This training will review core components of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

  • What CBT is, Who uses CBT, and what CBT can be used for
  • How to apply CBT when used as a self help therapy
  • Principles of CBT
  • Understanding the CBT triangle
  • Recognising our emotions
  • Identifying thoughts feelings and behaviours
  • Understanding our thoughts feelings and behaviours
  • Negative automatic thoughts
  • Recognising thinking traps
  • Identifying negative cycles
  • Challenging negative patterns of thoughts feelings and behaviours
  • Finding alternatives
  • Changing unhelpful thoughts feelings and behaviours