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Relapse Prevention


What is Relapse Prevention Therapy?


Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is a cognitive-behavioral substance abuse treatment designed to address the problem of relapse while trying to abstain from an addictive behavior like alcohol consumption and drug use as well as other behavioral addictions such as compulsive gambling, shopping, sexual behavior, etc. RPT can be delivered by Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, License Mental Health Counselors or Chemical Dependency Professionals in substance abuse treatment. RPT is also helpful for court referred clients or clients under the jurisdiction of a Drug Court and can be delivered by Probation and Parole Officers to offenders under criminal justice supervision. Relapse Prevention Therapy is listed on NREPP, the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and by NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) as an effective substance abuse treatment. 

In the most general sense, Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is a cognitive-behavioral self-control program designed to teach individuals who are trying to maintain changes in their behavior how to anticipate and cope with the problem of relapse. Relapse refers to a breakdown or failure in a person's attempt to maintain change in any set of behaviors. Like other cognitive-behavioral therapies, RPT combines behavioral and cognitive interventions in an overall approach that emphasizes self-management and rejects labeling clients with traits like "alcoholic" or "drug addict”.

RPT intervention strategies can be grouped into three categories: 1) coping skills training, 2) cognitive therapy, and 3) lifestyle modification. Coping skills training strategies include both behavioral and cognitive techniques. Cognitive therapy procedures are designed to provide clients with ways to reframe the habit change process as learning experience with errors and setbacks expected as mastery develops. Finally, lifestyle modification strategies such as meditation, exercise, and spiritual practices are designed to strengthen a client's overall coping capacity.


In clinical practice, coping skills training forms the cornerstone of RPT, teaching clients strategies to:

  1. Understand relapse as a process

  2. Identify and cope effectively with high-risk situations

  3. Cope with urges and cravings

  4. Implement damage control during a lapse to minimize its negative consequences

  5. Stay engaged in treatment even after a relapse

  6. Learn how to create a more balanced lifestyle.

What products are needed to implement Relapse Prevention Therapy? 


  • RPT Client Workbook

  • RPT Facilitator Guide

  • ​RPT Practitioner Training Workshop Curriculum License-used in Train-the-Trainer 

What training is needed to implement Relapse Prevention Therapy?

A standard Relapse Prevention Therapy Practitioner Training Workshop consisting of 3-days of instruction has been developed by George A. Parks, Ph.D. It results in staff receiving a Certified RPT Practitioner credential. This training is tailored specifically to each site. The training is supplemented by a RPT Facilitator Guide created by Dr. Parks that serves as a therapist manual describing specifically how to deliver RPT at a particular site step-by-step. A RPT Practitioner Train-the-Trainer Workshop and a license to use RPT training curriculum are also available. All training is available on site or by videoconference. 

RPT Implementation Resources:

Below are links to a variety of articles and information sheets concerning RPT implementation. Many questions and concerns about implementing RPT are answered in these documents.

Contact George A. Parks, Ph. D. at 206-930-1949 for a quote or more information about implementing Relapse Prevention Therapy

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