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Digital Recording

Addictions & Complex Mental Health: Healing The Whole Family With A Systems Approach To Supporting Impacted Individuals & Families.

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Amber Rules, B.CHC (Applied Psychotherapy), M.PACFA
One full day
Mar 19, 2021
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Media Type:
Digital Recording
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Historically, support and treatment for people who experience addiction or complex mental health difficulties has frequently been provided solely to the individual. However, research indicates that treatment outcomes for the person experiencing addiction or complex mental health issues improve when family members also receive psychoeducation and counselling (Copello, Templeton & Velleman, 2006; Smith and Velleman, 2007; Orford, 1994). More importantly, the family members who are experiencing pain, confusion, fear, anger and a myriad of other emotions are often left out of the healing process and, as such, suffer greatly themselves as a result. In particular, children and teenagers are often left without meaningful and effective support, which can contribute to lasting difficulties for them, including their own use of substances and behaviours (Copello & Orford, 2002). Taking this data into consideration, this workshop will address the following;

  • Understanding the reasons why working with and supporting family members and affected others is important, using both data and the clinical observations of the facilitator;
  • Understanding the processes and experiences of family members and affected others, using clinical models such as The Continuum of Addiction and Process of Dependency models, The Family Accomodation Process, The Family Dynamics model, The Stages of Change model, The Family Stages of Change model, and The Mental Health Carer’s Journey model;
  • Learning pragmatic, evidence-based practice ideas and skills that support working with individuals and families/affected others, using trauma-informed, compassion-based and person-centred practice frameworks;
  • Learning strategies to engage the individual, family-system and affected others in ethical and confidential ways;
  • Learning specific ways to support children and adolescents affected by a family members addiction or complex mental health;
  • Learning specific ways to support parents of adolescents and young people who experience addiction or complex mental health;
  • Collaborating with other health professionals who are supporting the family system for better outcomes;
  • Practice case formulation and planning using case studies and small-group learning.

Copies of models and case formulation tools will be provided, as well as a resource list and academic references so that participants can further their learning with self-directed research.



This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Amber Rules, B.CHC (Applied Psychotherapy), M.PACFA's Profile

Amber Rules, B.CHC (Applied Psychotherapy), M.PACFA Related seminars and products

Sydney Addictions Recovery

Amber Rules is a psychotherapist, counsellor, group therapist, clinical supervisor and mental health facilitator. She has extensive experience with addictions and specialises in working with the family members of people who use substances and repetitive harmful behaviours or have complex mental health needs through harm minimisation and compassion-based lenses.

She is the Clinical Director of Sydney Addictions Recovery, a specialist counselling clinic in Sydney’s Inner West. She is also the Director and Founder of Rough Patch; an affordable counselling serve that uses a unique social enterprise model to make counselling more accessible and affordable. Previously in her career, Amber has worked in both public and private inpatient rehabilitation centres and hospitals, specialist outpatient counselling services, and private practice.

Before becoming a therapist, Amber worked in the entertainment industry. She has an understanding of the difficulties that come with creative, non-traditional and high-profile careers and is experienced in helping clients manage addiction and mental health difficulties that sometimes accompany these occupations.

Amber also has lived experience of substance involvement, family addiction and intergenerational trauma, and draws on this in her clinical practice.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Amber M. Rules is the founder and director of Rough Patch Affordable Counselling & Mental health Supports and has an employment with Sydney Addictions Recovery. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Amber M. Rules is a member of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Australia, and the Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association.

Additional Info

Webcast Schedule

Morning Session
  9:00am - 12:45pm
  Includes a 15 minutes break at 10:45am

Lunch Break
  12:45pm - 1:45pm

Afternoon Session
  1:45pm - 5:00pm
  Includes a 15 minutes break at 3:15pm

Venue information

Our venue is registered with Service NSW as a 'Covid Safe' venue. 
You will be required to checkin via our QR code and to abide by the safety  measures current at the time and in line with public health orders. These will be advised in your pre-event reminder/information emails.
In the interest of everone's safety, PDP reserves the right to deny entry to any participant who chooses not to follow the current COVID safety plans. 

This venue offers wheelchair access from the Brown Street entrance.  

4 minute walk from Chatswood train/metro/bus interchange

Links to reasonable early-bird parking close to the venue:

All day tea, coffee and chilled water are provided.
We have a fridge and two microwave ovens should you wish to bring your own food. 
The venue has a cafe on the ground floor and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants inlcuding an extensive foodhall above the Chatswood Interchange.

Mantra Hotel is next door to the venue: website here
Meriton Suites is a 4 minute walk from the venue: website here


Learning objectives of this training:

  1. Understand why working with family members and affected others of those with addiction or complex mental health, including children, is a highly valuable and effective undertaking for individuals, family members, affected others, and clinicians. This objective includes some data and research of the outcomes of working systemically with this population.
  2. Learn the ways family-systems accomodate addiction or mental health issues and how to support healthy change in a respectful, client-centred way.
  3. Learn pragmatic, evidence-based practice ideas and skills that support working with individuals and families/affected others.
  4. Practice case formulation and planning with case studies and small-group learning.
  5. Learn ways to integrate systems-based interventions in the absence of participation from the individual using substances/addictive behaviours, or in the absence of key family members
  6. Considerations about ethics, confidentiality and respect when working with multiple people in a system.

“Addiction and complex mental health issues impact more than just the individual - this workshop supports better outcomes for everyone touched by addiction and mental health.”  Amber Rules

How will you benefit from attending this training?

  • Deepen understanding of how addiction and complex mental health issues impact family members and affected others, including children
  • Learn strategies and skills to support family members and affected others, even if the person using substances or behaviours isn’t ready for change
  • Learn how to ethically engage with multiple people in a family system, while maintaining confidentiality, respect, and using a non-stigmatising, non-pathologising approach


Morning Session (includes a short morning tea break)

  • Acknowledgement of Country and group learning agreement
  • Introductions/about facilitator
  • Workshop overview


  • Definitions and clinical language used during workshop
  • Why work with family members? Discussion and supporting data
  • Understanding The Stages of Change (model) and The Family Stages of Change (model)
  • Understanding The Continuum of Addiction (model) and Process of Dependency
  • Understanding The Family Accomodation Process (model) and Family Dynamics Model
  • Understanding the 6 phases of The Mental Health Carer’s Journey (model) and the impact of dual diagnosis on families
  • Understanding impacts of addiction and complex mental health on young people and children


  • Case Study 1
  • Case Study 1: group discussion and debrief
  • Begin Case Study 2 (if time permitting)

Afternoon Session (includes a short afternoon tea break)


  • Continue/begin Case Study 2
  • Case Study 2 group discussion and debrief


  • Self care for family members - developing a care plan (using the 8 Dimensions of Wellness) with a family member for their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of vulnerable people in their care, such as children
  • Working with children, adolescents and young people
  • Collaborating with other clinicians providing care to the family-system, including medical practitioners
  • Self care for clinicians - ensuring longevity when working with this population
  • Resources, referrals and other helpful supports


  • Case Study 3
  • Case Study 3 discussion and debrief

Target Audience

Psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, social workers, mental health carers, health and medical professionals.



Overall:      4.8

Total Reviews: 10

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