Group Intervention Techniques for People with Dual Disorders

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Despite a growing literature describing the difficulties in treating people with dual disorders, few reports have focused on treatment techniques. This report describes group intervention techniques used in New Hampshire’s specialized services for dually diagnosed clients. These groups provide specific substance abuse treatments within the mental health center. Persuasion groups are open, flexible groups that provide a nonjudgmental, psychoeducational approach to helping clients to develop an awareness of the adverse effects of substance use on their lives. Active treatment groups provide a more focused, behavioral, abstinence-oriented intervention to clients who choose them. These groups provide training in social skills, which facilitates participation in self-help programs, as well as training in other skills related to anxiety management, assertiveness, and avoidance of drug and alcohol use. Both types of groups have leaders from both mental health and substance abuse backgrounds who are part of the team that provides case management services to clients with dual disorders, creating an integrated treatment approach. Specific group leadership techniques, group structure, and appropriate use of self-help programs and integration of their techniques are discussed and illustrated. Pilot data suggesting some association between group attendance and recovery from alcohol use disorders are presented.

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