The Centre for Solution Focused Practice

Working with Substance Misusers

Who is the course for?

This course is practical and skills-based and will be of use to anyone whose job it is to facilitate
change with their clients and to support them and their carers in developing better lifestyles. Among
the professionals who have benefitted from this training have been nurses, YOT workers, Turning
Point and CRI staff, probation officers, arrest referral workers, counsellors, therapists, groupwork
facilitators, psychologists, psychiatrists, carers and volunteers, social workers, residential care
workers and others from the adult social care workforce. Whether the focus is on alcohol, drugs or
dual diagnosis, mental health issues, individual, couple, family or groupwork, solution focus is
adaptable to the context of the work.

What will the course cover?

During the course we will examine in detail all the essential aspects of solution focused practice:
• establishing what clients want to achieve from the work (what they are motivated towards) in
the form of a joint contract
• clarifying their ‘preferred future’ of what they hope to achieve
• exploring the ways that they are already achieving aspects of that future
• using simple scale questions to identify progress made and possible steps forward
• offering reflections on what appear to be the most significant achievements.


For those already familiar with the approach, this will provide an invaluable way to refresh their ideas
and to consider the latest thinking in the field.
In addition to short presentations and practice exercises, there will be demonstrations of the
approach via taped extracts of work with clients.


By the end of the course participants will have:
• developed an understanding of the solution focused approach
• engaged in practice exercises with the aim of building competence
• looked at issues they anticipate in developing their own solution focused practice
• explored skills they already have in their work
• found ways to build confidence to take the work forward in the future.

Trainer - Harvey Ratner

Harvey is a founder member of BRIEF. He is a family psychotherapist (registered with UKCP) and was
previously a social worker. He has had an ongoing association with a substance misuse service for
many years. He also works in a mixed comprehensive school in central London as a
counsellor/coach, and recently has been facilitating group work with youths and with adults in
different settings, including an initiative with teenage gang members.
BRIEF provides training to a wide range of clients and organisations. Since the Brief Therapy Practice
(now part of BRIEF) was set up in 1989, training and consultation have been provided to a range of
agencies and professional groups, including mental health services, drug and alcohol services,
services for older people, family centres, the probation service, child and family psychiatric services,
professionals working in education and others. As a direct result of its training provision, BRIEF is able
to offer a free clinical service to the most disadvantaged clients of the public sector

Working with Substance Misusers

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