Recovery and the Therapeutic Alliance Part 5

Recovery and the Therapeutic Alliance Part 5

Self-management is encouraged and facilitated. The processes of self-management are similar, but what works may be very different for each individual. No ‘one size fits all’.
(Davidson, 2008: 1)

In practice, Davidson (2008) suggests that this means that individuals are allowed and supported to define their own goals. The role of practitioners, therefore, is to help clients to identify these goals and achieve them in ways that are meaningful and acceptable to them. This principle bears a strong relation to the ‘goal’ and ‘task’ elements of Bordin’s (1979) three-component theory.

Fundamentally, there should be a move away from solutions defined and imposed by professionals without reference to service user need (Davidson, 2008). Irrespective of the definition of recovery, the principles should be about client choice and empowerment, together with a recognition that “recovery is a fundamentally social process that is lived and experienced outside the walls of specialist treatment services” (Best et al., 2010: 8). Thus, in relation to service delivery “a number of factors are coalescing … which suggest recovery-oriented services and initiatives should be more personalised and offer a better balance between medical and psychosocial interventions” (Paylor et al., 2012: 79).

Self-management is not only about clients taking more responsibility for their own treatment, but also about a change in the dynamics of the relationship between drug (and mental health) workers and their clients. This is the topic of the next post looking at how The helping relationship between clinicians and patients moves away from being expert/patient to being ‘coaches’ or ‘partners’ on a journey of discovery. Clinicians are there to be “on tap, not on top”.


Click on the lightbulb to the left for more information on the Therapeutic Working Alliance Focused Training that Soma deliver.




BEST, D., BULLOCH, T., JONES, V., TUNNAH, C. & SIMPSON, D. D. (2010). Time to Change. Drink and Drug News, 19th July 2010.

DAVIDSON, L. (2008). Recovery - Concepts and Application. Devon Recovery Group. Available:

PAYLOR, I., MEASHAM, F. & ASHER, H. (2012). Social Work and Drug Use. Maidenhead, Open University Press.

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