Helpful and unhelpful processes in psychological therapy for female substance users: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Jane Louise Halsall, Mick Cooper

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This study explored helpful and unhelpful processes in psychological therapy for women with a diagnosis of substance use disorder (SUD). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women, seven of whom were white; and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged: What words can’t express – finding another language, Identification with my therapist, and Getting towards acceptance. Emerging clinical implications are that therapists should consider strategies for helping clients with SUD “deshame”; and be willing to challenge their resistance and avoidance from an empathic, accepting, and professional standpoint. Creative methods may help clients to identify and express their feelings, while the availability of therapists with their own histories of recovery may support hope and change. © 2020, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The attached document (embargoed until 30/12/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in BRITISH JOURNAL OF GUIDANCE 7 COUNSELLING uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Guidance and Counselling
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • Addiction
  • Substance use disorder
  • Helpful and unhelpful factors
  • gender
  • Qualitative methods

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