AI3 Counsel groups of individuals about their substance use using recognised theoretical models


For this standard you need to counsel groups of individuals about their substance use by planning, preparing and implementing relevant therapeutic group activities using recognised theoretical models. It is intended for those who provide counselling to individuals as part of group activities. Group activities may be substance use specific, such as relapse prevention techniques, or may be general, such as anger management or social skills training. There should be evidence of establishing and managing the counselling process with particular regard to the complexities that emerge when dealing with alcohol and drug related issues in a group setting.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. legal and organisational requirements and policies requirements relevant to the functions being carried out
  2. the limits and boundaries of your duties, responsibilities and power and why it is important to explain these to the individual
  3. the individual’s rights and how these should inform and influence the formation of a relationship between you and the individual
  4. organisational and legal procedures and requirements regarding the recording, storage and passing on of information relating to individuals and work undertaken with them
  5. professional codes of practice
  6. agency codes of practice
  7. definition and boundaries of confidentiality
  8. the principles of active listening
  9. the cycle of change model
  10. all models explaining substance misuse
  11. the principles of motivation
  12. a range of recognised theoretical models
  13. awareness of cross-cultural approaches
  14. why it is important to encourage individuals to express their perspectives, values and feelings
  15. appropriate use of counselling supervision
  16. the essentials of group dynamics
  17. how to put participants at ease
  18. the principles of good feedback in groups
  19. the availability of substance misuse services in the local area
  20. the characteristics of substance misuse services in the local area
  21. knowledge of research, how and where to access it
  22. how to analyse research
  23. the range of different substances and their implications for the provision of services
  24. national substance misuse policies and priorities
  25. the range of substance misuse services offered by your organisation or other organisations
  26. the specific needs of individuals who are substance users, and how to meet these needs
  27. the range of behaviours that can be expected from substance users, and how to deal with these
  28. the risks substance misuse may pose to individuals and how to minimise these risks
  29. the risks substance misuse may pose to others, how to assess and minimise these risks
  30. the substance misuse jargon/terminology, commonly used
  31. the essentials of dual diagnosis
  32. the continuum of substance use from recreational to problematic
  33. the continuum of approaches to working with substance misuse from abstinence to harm reduction
  34. the rights of individuals with whom you come into contact

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. establish the purposes and goals of the therapeutic group activity
  2. involve individuals in the planning process at a level appropriate to their abilities and circumstances
  3. check individuals’ understanding of options and activities that may be used
  4. examine your own attitude towards drugs and alcohol, monitoring the impact that may have on the group
  5. are aware of own limitations, knowledge base and skill level
  6. conduct planning using a consistent theoretical base informed by recognised theoretical models
  7. anticipate any potential constraints or opportunities in the group and incorporate these into the planning
  8. prepare materials that are relevant and appropriate to the individuals in the group
  9. establish criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of activities
  10. arrange the environment in a way that encourages the full participation of all the individuals in the group
  11. discuss expectations and agree objectives with group members
  12. explain the nature of therapeutic group work, including benefits, possible constraints and boundaries
  13. establish a group contract that defines confidentiality, is realistic and agreed by all group members
  14. demonstrate positive regard, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude to all individuals in the group and encourage a shared responsibility in this
  15. use a consistent theoretical base informed by recognised theoretical models
  16. give individuals sufficient information and guidance, at an appropriate level and pace to maximise their involvement
  17. provide a suitable variety of therapeutic group activities to maximise involvement
  18. give and facilitate constructive feedback in a manner, level and pace that enhances individuals’ learning and development in the group
  19. manage disruption in a way that is constructive, inclusive and in keeping with agreed boundaries
  20. monitor your thoughts, feelings and emotional reactions to the group and individuals in the group so that you can correctly attribute them
  21. monitor and review the group processes and activities to ensure they remain of value to all individuals in the group
  22. ensure records of activities, agreements, contracts are accurate, legible, complete, up to date and secure
  23. comply with all relevant legislation, agency codes of practice, guidelines, professional and ethical requirements
  24. encourage and support individuals to give feedback on the therapeutic group activity
  25. review the outcomes of the group activities
  26. modify your plan where feedback indicates that the planned activity is inappropriate
  27. review the effectiveness of learning and development methods and identify alternative approaches where necessary
  28. use feedback to identify when the process is drawing to its conclusion

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to address health and wellbeing needs

This standard has replaced HSC355

AI3 Counsel groups of individuals about their substance use using recognised theoretical models
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk