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Interventions in mental health – substance use

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Title: Interventions in mental health – substance use

Edited by: David B Cooper

Publisher: Radcliffe publishing, 2011

Reviewer: Stuart Sorensen, trainer and consultant at

What was it like?

This book is packed with easy-to-understand theoretical principles and a wealth of practical techniques and tools. The list of contributors is impressive to say the least. Their insights, practice-based exercises and case studies are invaluable aids to understanding and, of course, to application “at the coal face” of health and social care.

When I first picked up the book I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. Reading through the contents list it could easily have become just another superficial anthology that didn’t really take the reader far. But I needn’t have worried.

Alongside the many practical tools (and the theory needed to apply them properly) a number of themes run through the chapters, each one complementing the others with surprising regularity given the number of different authors involved. Themes, such as the importance of hope and therapeutic optimism or the need to acknowledge and work within limitations, lend the book an air of realism that shows the ”real world” experience of the contributors.

This is an excellent manual. It’s part of a series of six and I for one will certainly be reading the other five.


What were the highlights? 

It’s difficult to pick out any single chapter, or even two or three chapters of particular interest – there’s so much that is good about this book. But if I had to choose, I’d say that Jo Cooper’s section on therapeutic relationships was especially useful. Anne Garland’s excellent (and thoroughly referenced) overview of the cognitive model and its use in dual diagnosis work was also impressively well written. I was also particularly interested in and educated by Carlo DiClemente’s chapter on the transtheoretical model of change (AKA ”Stages of change” for dinosaurs like me).

Strengths & weaknesses:

There is little to criticise in this book but there are issues of personal preference and of course, some chapters will resonate more with particular readers than others. So in describing my own preferences I’m really saying more about my own tastes than about the work itself.

But for me, Rosenblum’s chapter on “mutual aid” (self-help) groups was a little too “12 step” oriented and I could have done without David Manley’s chapter on cue-reactivity, well-written and well-explained though it clearly was.

Who should read it?

Overall this is an excellent manual that will benefit nurses and others alike in a variety of settings. After all, substances use is a problem for people using a range of different services. These issues aren’t just limited to one particular service (a point that Cooper makes firmly and without apology in chapter one).

And he is right to do so. This manual could go a long way toward addressing the “caught between two services” problem that has dogged people with both mental health and substance-related problems for years.

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