Developing the Therapeutic Relationship

Module code: AE1244

Module co-ordinator: Dr Tony Priest 

In this module we will consider the importance of building relationships with substance users. You will study the practical and ethical issues involved in creating a safe and secure counselling environment and explore how counselling may connect with other roles you could have as a drug and alcohol worker. We will consider difference and discrimination and how this impacts on the assessment process. You will explore the principles of transference and countertransference and also look at the impact of ending a therapeutic relationship. You will also be introduced to the principles and practice of manualised treatments (such as BTEI or ITEP) and Solution-Focussed Therapy.

Topics covered

  • The therapeutic alliance and factors that impinge on this: trust and dependency; therapeutic use of silence; exploring process as well as content; transference and countertransference
  • Diversity in the counselling relationship
  • BACP Ethical Framework and ethical issues: therapeutic frame, dual relationships
  • Solution-Focussed Therapy
  • Manualised treatments for substance misusers (e.g. BTEI, ITEP)
  • Social skills training
  • Making productive use of clinical supervision
  • Mindfulness-based approaches to treatment


This module is studied by distance learning.


  • Reflective essay, 1,000 words (25%)
  • Recorded counselling session with commentary, 1,000 words (75%)
  • 80% attendance at Intensive Workshop, assessed as pass or fail