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Therese von Braun.
Photo: Eva Dalin

Abstract

The aim of the thesis was to increase knowledge on how to understand the therapeutic process highlighting the importance of the therapeutic relationship as described by therapists and clients in substance use-related dependency treatment. The research questions were related to how the therapeutic process can contribute to a positive outcome considering the therapists’, the clients’ and close co-dependent relatives’ perspectives.

The thesis followed a qualitative and narrative research design and consists of six studies (I-VI). Study I contributed a description of a multidimensional interactional model for the analysis of substance use-related dependency. The study revealed how a multidimensional interactional model can provide holistic and detailed knowledge about the complex processes involved in the use or misuse of alcohol and drugs. The interactional model was illustrated by a narrative analysis of qualitative empirical data. This model seemed to support a person-by-situation interactional analysis of substance use-related dependency. Study II revealed the possibilities and limitations of using a self-theoretical perspective in the analysis of the use or misuse of alcohol and drugs. The self-theoretical perspective was related to empirical case illustrations based on qualitative or narrative data. The implications of studies I and II were that a self-theoretical perspective can be integrated within a multidimensional model and can be a fruitful theoretical framework for the analysis of treatment processes of dependency. Study III presented conceptual contributions for understanding treatment of substance use-related dependency, focusing on the importance of the therapeutic process and the therapeutic relationship and the use of narrative methods. Study IV presented a structural perspective on clients’ narrative descriptions of different phases of the use or misuse of alcohol and drugs including phases of treatment. Study V contributed an in-depth analysis of three therapists’ narratives of therapeutic relationships in the treatment of drug-dependent clients. The analysis pointed out the multidimensional aspects of the treatment and focused on three phases of therapy; starting the therapeutic process and building a therapeutic relationship, the ongoing therapeutic process, and the closing phase of therapy. The study also presented an in-depth analysis of two narrative case histories on dependency treatment. Study VI focused on a qualitative in-depth analysis based on narrative data from a group of 10 clients that had undergone treatment for alcohol and drug use or misuse. The study also included qualitative and narrative data from four co-dependent clients and six therapists about their views on the treatment process and the therapeutic relationship. The results of the study described how to understand the experiential world of the clients and their cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes associated with the treatment process.

The thesis’ contributions relate to an outline of a self-theoretical perspective integrated within a multidimensional interactional model for the analysis of the therapeutic process and the therapeutic relationship in substance use-related dependency treatment. The theoretical analysis sheds new light on the complexity of the treatment process and the clients’ struggle with their personal identity and sense of self, especially their drug self.