Course Description

Hours: 12

Relapse prevention (RP) is a broad term that refers to a wide range of therapeutic techniques that aid in the prevention of slips, lapses and relapses. The term relapse was initially used in the medical field to refer to those people who re-experience a disease stage (Marlatt and Donovan, 2005). In the addiction field, this term is commonly associated with returning to addictive behaviours/substances after a period of abstinence. Relapse prevention is essentially cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and has three main goals:

  • Prevent a return to addictive behaviours/substances.
  • Prevent a slip or lapse from turning into a relapse.
  • Stop relapse quickly should it occur.

Relapse prevention aims to increase the client’s awareness of high-risk situations and increase coping skills, self-efficacy and control of internal and external triggers that may make the client more vulnerable to relapse. 

Learning Objectives
By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:  

  • Define and describe relapse, the relapse process and a variety of relapse terminology.
  • Summarize theoretical perspectives and explain the contributions each has made to further our understanding of relapse prevention.
  • Identify and describe common high-risk situations that precipitate relapse.
  • Describe a variety of coping strategies that can help manage high-risk situations and urges/cravings. 
  • Explain the role of seemingly irrelevant decisions (SIDS) in the relapse process.
  • Explain how the clinician’s attitude and approach can impact the relapse process in a positive and negative manner.
  • Explain common myths associated with relapse.

Supplementary Resources

  • Structured Relapse Prevention: An Outpatient Counselling Approach (2nd Edition) by Marilyn A. Herie and Lyn Watkin-Merek  
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors, Second Edition: A Clinicians Guide by Sarah Bowen, Neha Chawla, G. Alan Marlatt    
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Problem Gambling, Second Edition Peter Chen, Farah Jindani and Nigel Turner 2021

Note: This workshop was designed for helping professionals or those looking to get into the helping field. For those in recovery, the content and discussions may be triggering.

CACCF: 12 continuing education hours


For more information contact the Faculty of Social Work Professional Development office:

Email: fswprofessionaldevelopment@wlu.ca
Phone: 548-889-4967

Applies Towards the Following Certificates


This workshop is currently not available. The 2023/2024 Faculty of Social Work Professional Development course and workshop dates will be available on July 8, 2024.

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