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Treat Substance Use Disorders via Telehealth: Essential Skills for Assessment, Treatment & Recovery Support at a Distance

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Paul Brasler, LCSW, CAIP
6 Hours 16 Minutes
Audio and Video
Jun 18, 2020
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Digital Recording
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Shame. Fear. Denial. Accessibility. 

These are obstacles that people face when seeking help for substance use disorders.  Each obstacle is a threat to recovery that can keep treatment dropout rates high and success rates low.  

You can remove some of the biggest barriers to substance use treatment by offering telehealth as a treatment lifeline to clients fighting for their lives! 

This training will show you how you can provide effective, HIPAA-compliant substance use treatment via telehealth so you can expand accessibility, improve client retention and engagement, and provide a treatment space for those who feel uncomfortable coming to a physical office.    

Join addictions treatment expert, speaker, and author Paul Brasler, MA, MSW, LCSW, and he’ll provide you with the skills you need to: 

  • Navigate privacy & informed consent issues unique to telehealth 
  • Remotely address safety concerns 
  • Screen & assess for drug use at a distance 
  • Deliver trauma-informed treatment interventions 
  • Boost client engagement, even when you’re not in the same room 
  • Tailor proven treatment strategies for virtual delivery 
  • Apply your skills to virtual group sessions

Telehealth will continue to grow and become a more integral component of addiction treatment.  

Don’t wait to add this valuable treatment format to your work! Set up your clients for recovery success! 



This online program is worth 6.5 hours CPD.



Paul Brasler, LCSW, CAIP's Profile

Paul Brasler, LCSW, CAIP Related seminars and products

Paul Brasler, LCSW, CAIP, has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 20 years. He is the owner of Providence Consulting & Education, LLC, through which he provides clinical supervision and professional education services. Additionally, Paul provides Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy and other clinical services as part of a small practice. Paul has extensive experience in working with people in crisis and people living with substance use disorders, including adolescent residential treatment, community mental health settings, hospital emergency departments, Juvenile Drug Court, and private practice.

Paul has been a PESI national presenter since 2016, and he has presented classes across the country on Mental Health Emergencies, High Risk Clients, Resiliency, and a certification course for clinicians working with people with substance use disorders. He has written two books: The Clinician’s Guide to Substance Use Disorders: Practical Tools for Assessment, Treatment & Recovery (PESI Publishing, October 2022) and High-Risk Clients: Evidence-Based Assessment & Clinical Tools to Recognize and Effectively Respond to Mental Health Crises (PESI Publishing, 2019).
Paul has been a PESI national presenter since 2016, and he has presented classes across the country on mental health emergencies, high-risk clients, resiliency, and a certification course for clinicians working with people with substance use disorders. His second book, The Clinician’s Guide to Substance Use Disorders: Practical Tools for Assessment, Treatment & Recovery, PESI Publishing, was published in October 2022. Paul lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his beautiful wife, three sons, a cowardly dog, and two dwarf rabbits who are quietly plotting to destroy the world.



Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Paul Brasler maintains a private practice and has an employment relationship with Alchemy Wellness. He receives a speaking honorarium, recording, and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Paul Brasler has no relevant non-financial relationships.


  1. Assess telehealth considerations and their clinical implications, including when its use is contra-indicated and the need for informed consent.
  2. Appraise the causes of substance use disorders and factors that reinforce drug use, including factors related to trauma and attachment, as related to case conceptualization.
  3. Assess for signs and symptoms of both substance intoxication and withdrawal syndromes for alcohol, methamphetamine, and opioids.
  4. Adapt substance use screening and assessment tools for delivery via telehealth.
  5. Utilize clinical strategies, such as motivational interviewing, via telehealth to improve client engagement and foster behavioural change.
  6. Demonstrate strategies used to improve the efficacy of individual and group therapies through telehealth.


Telehealth & Substance Use Disorders: What You Need to Know 

  • Basics of telehealth: The do’s & don’ts 
  • When telehealth is not appropriate 
  • Virtual privacy concerns 
  • What to tell your clients before starting 
  • Informed consent: Why it’s different for telehealth 

The Science Behind Substance Use Disorders 

  • Biopsychosocial aspects of substance abuse 
  • The role of trauma & attachment 
  • Compromised immune systems 
  • Using while isolated: The most dangerous substances  
    • Alcohol 
    • Heroin 
    • Fentanyl 
    • Meth

Telehealth Screening & Assessment: How Do You Know if a Client is Using?  

  • Assessment when you can’t see or smell 
  • Distance drug screening: Reduce potential harm 
  • How to ask sensitive intake questions 
  • Screening tools you can use at a distance

Remote Treatment Planning & Delivery 

  • Client-reported withdrawal screenings 
  • Making level of care decisions remotely 
  • Withdrawal management alone is not treatment 
  • Withdrawal management protocols & support through telehealth 
  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment? 
  • Medication-assisted treatment

Motivational Interviewing 

  • Stages of change  
  • Key strategies of motivational interviewing 
  • Relapse prevention strategies 
  • What to do when clients relapse

Distance Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions 

  • Apply the A-B-C model to substance abuse 
  • Recognize triggers to use via telehealth 
  • Foster coping skills 
  • Deconstruct negative schemas

Strategies for Group Telehealth 

  • Tailor interventions for virtual groups 
  • Barriers to treatment 
  • Getting people to talk 
  • Referring to virtual 12-step groups

More Strategies to Improve Client Engagement & Get Treatment Buy-In  

  • Showing empathy without nonverbal cues 
  • Case management: Link the client to resources 
  • Medication-assisted treatment 

Special Clinical Situations  

  • Pregnancy: Stigma & other challenges 
  • Parents of young children 
  • Vicarious trauma with a high-stress population 
  • Limitations of the research & potential risks 

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Case Managers
  • Physician Assistants
  • Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Probation/Parole Officers
  • Clergy 


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