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Co-Occurring Disorders: Working with Groups and Families

Course Code: CODS 5222
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Co-Occurring Disorders
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Students will explore concepts and theories for working with groups and families who are dealing with issues of co-occurring disorders within their group or family. Students will have an opportunity to develop their skill versatility by application of selected intervention strategies.

Course Content

The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  • Substance abuse and the challenges of dealing with a major mental illness can have a heavy impact on family functioning.
  • Families are an important component of integrated strengths based treatment for persons with co-occurring disorders.
  • Families play an important role in buffering the impact of stress on clients with co-occurring disorders; conversely, the loss of family support is associated with increased potential for persons with co-occurring disorders to become homeless.
  • Best practice intervention promotes the use of groups for the treatment of co-occurring disorders.
  • Groups are a cost effective intervention methodology that offers the advantages of social and educational support for persons dealing with co-occurring disorders.
  • Best practice intervention with individuals, families, and groups are best planned with an understanding of each client’s motivation for change using the stages of change model.
  • Effective counsellors are able to draw on a wide range of communication and counselling skills that are differentially applied depending on the unique needs and cultures of individuals, families and groups.

Methods of Instruction

  • Lecture
  • Group work
  • Student presentations
  • Guest speakers
  • Audio-visual presentation

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Written assignments
  • Group presentations
  • Exams
  • Class activity participation
  • Case study evaluation

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate ability to access evidence based best practice co-occurring disorders research as a guide for working with groups and families
  2. Demonstrate advanced level best practice counselling techniques when working with a co-occurring disorder (e.g., strengths based, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy)
  3. Describe types of groups used in the treatment of co-occurring disorders (e.g., education, persuasion, therapeutic, social skills, assertiveness, relapse prevention)
  4. Identify and describe the principles of self-help groups including 12-step principles
  5. Demonstrate essential skills for designing and running groups
    • Identify group dynamics concepts  (e.g., norms, cohesion, process and task functions, trust)
    • Facilitate group communication and problem solving)
    • Identify and demonstrate skills for overcoming obstacles to group functioning
  6. Identify family dynamics including dysfunctional patterns from a family systems theory perspective including issues of co-dependency
  7. Understand the impact of addiction and mental disorders on families (e.g., stress from attending to legal and other crisis situations,  potential for physical violence, monetary expenses, high level of communicative conflict)
  8. Describe ways to assist families to reduce the impact of co-occurring disorders on family functioning
    • Stress management
    • Reducing blame and addressing the needs of the whole family not just the client
    • Educating family members about co-occurring disorder
      • Eliciting family support for encouraging and supporting adherence to treatment recommendations
      • Promoting family collaboration with the treatment team
      • Teaching communications skills training
      • Teaching family members skills for relapse prevention planning
      • Helping families deal with the stress of a member’s co-occurring disorder
      • Assisting families to understand and manage enabling behaviours.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.