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Couple Therapy in Substance Use and Gambling Disorders: Promoting Health System Change

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Couple and family relationships are central in processes of substance use and gambling disorders, yet they remain inadequately researched and marginally addressed in services found in the health system. Multiple barriers exist that favour a focus on the individual due to organization structure and discourse, shortage of couple therapy training, and values and philosophy of addiction services. This article describes a successful strategic initiative to foster a partnership for researchers and health system decision-makers to promote a health system change. We identify impactful factors in a two-day integrated knowledge translation workshop bringing together practitioners, researchers, decision-makers and couples seeking services for gambling and substance use disorders. The initiative shifted awareness of decision-makers, built a network of collaborative relationships and created a consensus for action among stakeholders. This early integrated knowledge translation strategy opened up research partnership on a couple therapy randomized trial in the health system, training for counselors, and research opportunities for graduate students.

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This project was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Partnerships for Health Services Improvement Planning Grant.

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Correspondence to Bonnie K. Lee.

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Bonnie Lee is the developer of Congruence Couple Therapy, an integrated systems model for substance abuse and gambling treatment. Robert Gilbert and Rebecca Knighton have no conflict of interest to declare.

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Lee, B.K., Gilbert, R. & Knighton, R. Couple Therapy in Substance Use and Gambling Disorders: Promoting Health System Change. Contemp Fam Ther 42, 228–239 (2020).

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