Counseling Intentional Addiction Recovery Grounded in Relationships and Social Meaning

  • Matthew GrahamEmail author
  • Chris Bitten


Those suffering from problematic substance use make efforts toward recovery whether or not in a counseling relationship—and those efforts involve important people in their lives. This chapter builds on this motivation and relational context using Contextual Action Theory (CAT) as a multi-dimensional framework to organize and support recovery from addiction in the short, medium and long term.

A key concept in CAT sees most human behaviors as goal-directed actions undertaken within key relationships. Actions are short-term and goal-directed and develop into mid-term projects or longer-term “careers”. The chapter, with case examples, describes how the CAT-informed counselor works with the cognitions and emotions that steer actions; with control processes (the cognitive and behavioral “how” of goal achievement); and with regulation processes (how the counseling is conducted to facilitate emerging insights, deal with resistance, and attend closely to the client’s process, among other regulatory skills). Assessment and communication skills to support recovery actions are examined. Important persons in the client’s life, as well as relational gaps, are explored. While addicted individuals may suffer damaged, lost or fragile relationships, there remain ways to situate goal-directed actions within relationships, including that between client and counselor and new people that enter the client’s life in recovery activities. Working with actions and goals within this rich framework can augment or provide alternatives for the more traditional recovery models.

Exploration of the client’s life and narrative and the plans and goals that emerge can free him or her from limiting self-definitions and uncover lost aspects of self-schema as the latter rapidly evolves in the early stages of recovery. Naming and working with multiple goals and projects increases the opportunity that the client will achieve confidence and competence early in recovery.


Therapeutic Alliance Substance Misuse Addiction Treatment Social Meaning Emotional Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OrionHealthSurreyCanada
  2. 2.VancouverCanada

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