Sciacca, K. 1997. Removing barriers: dual diagnosis and motivationalinterviewing.
12(1): 41-6. Reprinted withpermission from Health Communications, publisher of
), www.counselormagazine.com. All rights reserved.
"Removing Barriers: Dual Diagnosis Treatment and MotivationalInterviewing"
In the past, traditional treatment methods for drug addiction and alcoholism have beencharacteristically intense and confrontational. They are designed to break down a client’s denial,defenses, and/or resistance to his or her addictive disorders, as they are perceived by the provider. Admissions criteria to substance abuse treatment programs usually require abstinencefrom all illicit substances. Potential clients are expected to have some awareness of the problemscaused by substance abuse and be motivated to receive treatment.In contrast, traditional treatment methods for mental illness have been supportive, benignand non-threatening. They are designed to maintain the client's already-fragile defenses. Clientsentering the mental health system are generally not seeking treatment for their substance abuse problems. Frequently clients within the mental health system who actively abuse drugs andalcohol are not formally identified. If they are, they do not admit to such substance use.As some attention began to focus on clients with both substance abuse problems andmental illnesses, it quickly became apparent that new methods and interventions were necessary.Working with dual disorder clients who deny substance abuse, who are unmotivated for substance abuse treatment, and who are unable to tolerate intense confrontation, required a newmodel, a non-confrontational approach to the engagement and treatment of this special population. I first developed such a treatment model in 1984, with the goal of providingnonjudgmental acceptance of all symptoms and experiences related to both mental illness andsubstance disorders.
A brief history
Such treatment interventions and integrated programs -- which truly adapted to the needsof severely mentally ill chemical abusers -- had their genesis in 1984 at a New York stateoutpatient psychiatric facility. In 1985, these integrated treatment programs were implementedacross multiple program sites. Concurrently, treatment and program elements were taughtthrough training seminars in New York as well as nationally.In September 1986, the New York State Commission on Quality of Care (CQC) releasedthe findings of 18 months of research. In their report, they described the detachment anddownward spiral of dually diagnosed consumers, who were bounced among different systemswith "no definitive locus of responsibility." As a result, New York’s governor designated thestate Office of Mental Health as the lead agency responsible for coordinating collective effortsfor this population. The commission visited the dual diagnosis programs developed in 1984, anddeclared the treatment interventions, the training, and integrated programs to be positivesolutions to the dilemma.