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PSY5040 Relapse Prevention

Semester 2, 2020 Online
Short Description: Relapse Prevention
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090701 - Psychology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Rebecca Lane


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCAD or GDCN or GCCO or MCCO or MPPS


Relapse prevention is a recent addition to the suite of responses to behavioural problems, including substance use, eating disorders, and sexual offending, all of which have cognitive and behavioural elements in common. As an intervention model, relapse prevention has emerged as a supplemental tool in recognition of the challenges many individuals face in maintaining treatment gains. Historically, maintenance of treatment gains had been poor, and the notions of lapse and relapse in the substance using client were not well understood. Relapse prevention has since emerged as an aspect of addiction treatment where ‘failure’ has been reconceptualised as an experience from which substance using clients may learn. In addition, any approach to the treatment of substance misuse and other addictions is incomplete without a strategy for assisting clients to maintain treatment gains or abstinence in their post-treatment lives.


This course is divided into three parts. The first part concerns the theoretical basis of relapse prevention, and the evidence base which informs its application in practice. The second part of the course focuses on knowledge of the situational risk factors and cognitive distortions that maintain health compromising behaviours. Students are guided through a number of readings and practical activities to assist development of skills for identification of cognitive distortions. This component also includes a range of strategies for responding to client lapses and relapse, both for short to medium term management, and for longer term maintenance of resilience to relapse risk. As for other courses in the GCAD program, the final module of PSY5040 addresses ethics and cultural factors, both of which are either mandated or recommended aspects of training in the health professions. The knowledge components of the course are provided in a structured 10-module format assessed through a series of online quizzes, while the skills component is assessed via a multi-faceted applied case study task.


On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. describe the evidence base for relapse prevention in substance using populations
  2. describe the foundation theory and principles of relapse prevention
  3. identify a range of different treatment approaches in relapse prevention, and when they are indicated or contraindicated
  4. identify specific treatment components applicable to relapse prevention
  5. distinguish between the related concepts of lapse and relapse and how these are linked to high-risk situations
  6. distinguish common cognitive distortions that maintain addictive behaviours
  7. describe a range of primary intervention strategies for relapse prevention and maintenance
  8. describe ethical and cultural factors in relapse prevention


Description Weighting(%)
1. Overview of relapse prevention and management 10.00
2. Mechanisms of change in relapse prevention 10.00
3. Specific interventions: Lapse versus relapse 10.00
4. High risk situations 10.00
5. Coping with cravings 10.00
6. Identifying, tracking, and challenging thoughts 10.00
7. Global skills in relapse prevention and management 10.00
8. Building interpersonal supports and healthy behaviours 10.00
9. Summary of relapse prevention and management 10.00
10. Ethics and culture in relapse prevention 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Marlatt, GA & Donovan, DM (eds) 2008, Relapse prevention: maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviours, Guilford Press, New York.
Reading and other resources will be supplied via the course home page to address to specific topics relevant to relapse prevention.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Daley, D.C. & Marlatt, G.A. (eds) 2007, Overcoming Your Alcohol Or Drug Problem: Effective Recovery Strategies, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, New York.
Witkiewitz, K. & Marlatt, G. A 2007, Therapist’s Guide To Evidence-Based Relapse Prevention, Elsevier Academic Press, Boston, MA.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 30.00
Directed Study 62.00
Online Tutorials 10.00
Private Study 68.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE STUDY ASSIGNMENT 100 50 08 Oct 2020
ONLINE QUIZ 1 20 10 22 Oct 2020 (see note 1)
ONLINE QUIZ 2 20 10 22 Oct 2020
ONLINE QUIZ 3 20 10 22 Oct 2020
ONLINE QUIZ 4 20 10 22 Oct 2020

  1. On-line quizzes will be released on the course home page and can be completed at any time during the semester. Students may attempt each quiz twice, using all the readings and resources provided, and their recorded marks will be the highest marks achieved for each quiz on the last day of the last teaching week of the semester. See assessment section of the Introductory Book for further details and the grading rationale.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is students' responsibility to participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them (such as Study Book activities and practical work), and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each of the assessment items to be awarded a passing grade in the course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks for the summative assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Course Examiner.

  3. The Course Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the Examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study.

  5. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  6. Students will require access to email and internet access to USQConnect for this course. The onus is on students to ensure internet access is of sufficient speed and quality to accommodate the on-line quizzes.

  7. There is no Residential School for this course.

  8. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Date printed 6 November 2020