Certificate in Addiction Counselling: Level 1

Certificate in Addiction Counselling: Level 1


Event Details

Certificate Program Overview: 

Dates: December 13, 2018, January 7 and 8, February 11, 2019.

Facilitator: Ian Robertson, MSW, RSW

This training is suitable for: Mental Health Professionals: front-line workers (nurses, clergy, social workers, residential workers), counselors and psychotherapists who provide services to vulnerable populations.

In this 3-module certificate program, you must complete all 4 days to obtain the certificate. Please note: the individual modules can be taken separately but you will not receive the certificate.


This certificate program focuses on the basic skills of addiction counselling.  Areas of training at this level focus on understanding the Use of Self and Transference/Counter-Transference "Traps" which can occur and can significantly impact the quality of care from a trauma informed perspective.  This level will also provide a training on Motivational Interviewing with a practice component integrated into this component.  finally, this level will provide a general overview of Pharmacology, as having a basic understanding is critical to understand and will inform your clinical practice. This  is a four days training.

Individual Module Overview:

Module 1 Counter-Transference 'Trap' within the Therapeutic Process of Addictions and Mental Health

Date: December 13, 2018Presenter: Ian Robertson, MSW, RSW


Overview: Historically, the work we do within addictions and mental health tends to focus more on symptoms rather than causation.  Clients who seek out our services from these populations present with a significantly higher prevalence of trauma.  The real architect of the intervention for our clients who are trauma implicated is the 'worker'. Our personal wellness, insight and healthy attachment to our clients truly matter in their process of recovery. As clinical workers, who are wanting to be trauma informed, we must reflect on our component of what we bring to the therapeutic experience. As our clients are triggered and react and re-enact historical trauma within our session, so are we as clinicians. Our history and experiences can be  helpful, but also can be harmful to the therapeutic work. Our histories, especially when we are not aware, do enter into the work with our clients. Having insight to our counter-transference reactions is critical to a 'do no harm' approach, for the highly vulnerable populations we service.

This training will explore:

  • 'Use of self' was an approach and yet the challenges and even risks for 'use of self'
  • The historical evolution to the understanding of counter-transference as a concept 
  • Overview of Transference Reactions and its potential risks
  • Overview of counter-Transference Reactions - Type 1 and 2
  • The benefits of empathy and the messiness of empathy in the clinical work
  • Empathic Strain including withdrawal, repression, enmeshment, disequilibrium and over identification
  • Power of health clinical attachment
  • Trauma Reenactment Syndrome
  • Overview of strategies for the helping professional to recognize, contain and heal event counter-transferences

This workshop will include videos, personal reflective exercises, breakout groups and clinical knowledge overview of the above stated topics.

This training is meant for participants who are authentically interested and willing to become internally vulnerable within themselves to better understanding their clinical 'blind spots' which operate consciously and subconsciously during their sessions.  The goal of this training is to gain insight and learn our counter-transference reactions, and how they operate in the therapeutic approach with clients, and once identified how we challenge ourselves to address these counter-transferences so that we 'do no harm' to clients.


Module 2 - Motivational Interviewing in Addictions Counselling

Date: January 7 and 8, 2019| Presenter: Ian Robertson, MSW, RSW



The advice-giving trap become a barrier to the change process for clients with addictive behaviours.  This skills-focused, interactive training will invite participants to develop their understanding and practice of Motivational Interviewing (MI), a method of enhancing one's motivation to change addictive behaviours, without using the ineffective approaches of the advice-giving trap. Miller and Rollnick's empirically supported treatment approach helps front-line worker understand the dynamics of motivation and identifies skills and interventions that can be used to help clients access and enhance their own desire for positive change.  MI has long been recognized as a foundational approach in supporting people to change substance use behaviour and its value in supporting behaviour change more broadly has also been recognized in recent years.  This training will enhance participants' understanding of the spirit of MI and its importance to effective MI practice.  MI micro-skills, also known as OARS (open questioning, affirming, reflecting, summarizing) will be discussed and practiced and MI-specific interventions will be introduced.  Common barriers to change and ways to overcome these, as well as the intersection between MI and The Stages of Change (Prochaska and DiClemente) will also be explored.


Module 3 General Pharmacology Overview of Substances for Addiction Counsellors: Including a Specific Focus on Best Practice for Treating the Opioid Crisis 

Date: February 11, 2019 | Presenters: Ian Robertson, MSW, RSW


Overview: Having a general pharmacology overview of substances is essential to addictions counselling, as a basic understanding of Pharmacology is critical to treatment options and outcomes and will therefore, further inform your clinical practice.
The training will overview the effects and withdrawal symptoms of amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines,cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, ethyl alcohol and opioids.  Introductions of the assessment tools used to assess for the severity of withdrawal symptom will be discussed.  The second part of this workshop will focus on the current opioid crisis which is the most challenging forms of addiction facing the Canadian health care system, and a major contributor to the marked rises in opioid-related morbidity and death that Canada has been seeing in recent years.  Current best practices and guidelines used to intervene, treat including harm reduction approaches, and prevention will be reviewed.

*Photography is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the content is a model, except where indicated.


  • When

  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 - Monday, February 11, 2019
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Eastern Time

  • Where

  • SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health Learning Institute
    114 Maitland Street
    Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1E1

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