Overview of Approach

Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C., offers cognitive theory-based, outcome-focused, individual, partner, and group counseling for stress and trauma disorders, substance use concerns – including substance use disorders as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – and for co-occurring mental and physical disorders.

A fundamental premise of cognitive theory-based counseling protocols is that, once people learn cognitive skills, they can take over as their own cognitive therapists. Here’s what that means.

The primary goal of an evidence-informed substance use disorder treatment plan is to assist individuals in living healthy, functional lives, in connection with others, such that substance use does not result in negative consequences for themselves, others, or society. Harm reduction is the standard of care for substance use disorders.

In tandem with medical care, individual treatment plans are grounded in evidence-based and interpersonally-based therapeutic modalities that rigorous research suggests are helpful to individuals with substance use issues. Clients may receive case management services and support in-person, via text messaging, and/or phone.

Therapeutic modalities employed may include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and its varieties, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for trauma, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Also employed may be Motivational Interviewing (MI), contingency management (CM),  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Positive Psychology, mindfulness-informed therapies, strength-based therapy, interpersonal effectiveness coaching, and other supportive methods and practices.

According to Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, November, 2016, Page 4-26, “Unfortunately, despite decades of research, it cannot be concluded that general group counseling is reliably effective in reducing substance use or related problems.”

Instead of offering “general group counseling,” we offer skills-focused groups. We work with specific approaches that research suggests are helpful to people who want to reduce or eliminate their use of substances.

“Awareness skills” is a working title used with clients to describe a set of specific, enumerated skills to foster emotion regulation and, therefore, cognitive functioning. The list of skills is derived from distilling the latest, authoritative research on methods and practices that help most people, most of the time, better than other methods, and better than nothing, with emotion dysregulation and other symptoms of substance use disorders and other addictions, and co-occurring anxiety, depression, thought disorders, personality disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurocognitive disorders, physical pain, and other challenges. Emotion regulation has been proposed as a “transdiagnostic treatment construct” by Sloan et al. Derivation of the skills is an application of “common factors theory.” (See Wikipedia and Yang and Zhang, 2017.) The Awareness Skills Curriculum is a dynamically evolving work in progress.

All sessions are staffed by a licensed professional counselor or a master’s-level professional. Peers are not employed in professional roles in this program.

Links to research highlights on evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders/addiction

Thanks to an interview with Casey Leslie, M.S. on 4/21/20, here’s an overview of my approach.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice

Last updated 10/21/21