Being Client-Centered in a Person-in-Environment Approach

After a series of phone calls with each other, an out-of-state therapist and I finally connected. She started the conversation saying, “my client has been there in California for more than six months, and you are the first person who contacted me.” I find that very sad, as Insight is the fourth program that the client has attended in the more than six months that she has been in treatment. It should have not surprised me, as I heard a similar account from the spouse. The spouse reported that he has not been involved at all in any of the client’s treatment in the last six months.

What is wrong with the picture? The client is a part of the family. Working with just the client and not involving the family is not quite a recipe for success. Going back to a family that may not have a good understanding of addiction and mental illness or not helping the family resolve issues that may have occurred prior to the client going to treatment, will place the client and the family at a greater chance of being exactly where they were six months ago: relapse and treatment.

Additionally, the therapist who had worked with the client years before coming to California is an integral part of the treatment process and should be part of the transition plan for the client and the family.

As a treatment team at Insight, we work “to resolve ambivalence that prevents clients from realizing personal goals” (National Center for Biotechnology Information, ND, first paragraph). In this client’s case, it was not just about her substance use or mental health issues, it is also about involving key relationships crucial for continuous recovery. 

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (ND). Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from


Melinda G. Drake, LCSW (CA, NY & HI), LISW CP & AP (SC)

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