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The First Session with Substance Abusers: A Step-by-Step Guide

The First Session with Substance Abusers: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nicholas A. Cummings Ph.D., Janet L. Cummings Ph.D.

ISBN: 978-0-787-94933-4 June 2000 Jossey-Bass 288 Pages


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It is during the critical first session with substance abusers that clinicians have the first, and all too often the last, opportunity to break through the wall of denial and create an atmosphere of trust that is so crucial to changing behavior. Written by a father-daughter team of clinical psychologists, The First Session with Substance Abusers outlines a proven plan for conducting an initial session that can uncover substance abuse problems with clients no matter how resistant or manipulative they may be. Applying the methods outlined in this book, psychologists and health professionals can use the first session to assess and evaluate the depth and duration of the substance abuse problem and motivate the client to begin the most appropriate form of treatment.
Foreword, Jeanne Albronda Heaton.


Who Is the Substance Abuser?

Presenting Problems: Different Tugs from Different Drugs.

Identifying the Problem in the First Session.

Modalities of Treatment.

Diagnostic and Treatment Considerations.

Establishing the Therapeutic Alliance.

Further Interviewing Strategies: The Games.

The First Interview with the Enabler.

Countertransference: Denial Is a Two-Way Street.


Suggested Readings.

The Authors.
"Therapists may have failed to detect underlying addictions because they had no compelling model for assessment and treatment. Cummings and Cummings illuminate this previously murky area and provide an easy-to-follow beacon for clinicians of all persuasions. My highest recommAndation." (Jeffrey K. Zeig, director, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation)

"Full of insights and pearls of clinical wisdom. The Cummings' experience spans over five decades-they have seen trAnds come and go, and as a result they have rather solid information as to what truly works. Also, since a substantial number of clients seen in psychotherapy settings have substance abuse problems unknown to the therapist, the effective and modern clinician cannot afford not to have this book nearby." (J. Lawrence Thomas, neuropsychologist, New York University Medical Center, and author of Do You Have Attention Deficit Disorder?)

"The First Session with Substance Abusers is a book built on the authors' combined 50 years of rich clinical experience. The father-daughter team of Drs. Nick and Janet Cummings have written a book full of practical suggestions, anecdotes, stories, and sage perceptions. For all of those working in the field of substance abuse treatment, this book provides a clear point of view and specific ideas about ways to carry out the challenging task of treating substance abuse." (Simon H. Budman, president, Innovative Training Systems, Inc., and assistant professor, Harvard Medical School and staff, Children's Hospital, Boston)

"Drs. Cummings skillfully describe the biopsychosocial ramifications of substance abuse. Anyone who treats substance abusers but is not fully familiar with the facts that this book so eloquently documents is bound to bypass significant assessment-treatment processes-to the detriment of their patients and themselves." (Arnold A. Lazarus, distinguished professor emeritus of psychology, Rutgers University)

"This book is a worthwhile addition to the book shelves of addiction counsellors and health professionals in general." (Addiction Today, September 2001)