Publication Details

Grenyer, B. F. S. . & Solowij, N. (2006). Supportive-expressive psychotherapy for cannabis dependence. In R. Roffman & R. S. Stephens (Eds.), Cannabis Dependence: Its Nature, Consequences and Treatment (pp. 225-243). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Supportive–expressive (SE) dynamic psychotherapy forms one variation of a number of psychotherapies that emphasize the importance of effective interpersonal relationships for psychological health (Grenyer, 2002a). The overall goal of SE psychotherapy is to help the client achieve mastery over their difficulties, gain self-understanding, and practice self-control over habitual drug use and related problems. From this framework, cannabis dependence is understood within the context of the client's interpersonal relationships, work, and social problems. The theory behind the SE approach emphasizes the formative influence of life experiences on the development of personality and on the genesis of problems, including habitual cannabis use. Change is brought about through mastering (understanding and controlling) relationship conflicts and problems with a focus on the role of drug use within these interpersonal patterns. The therapist establishes a firm, consistent, and predictable therapeutic framework to strengthen the helping alliance between client and therapist. The therapist maintains this framework by focusing on the client's goals and fostering an understanding of relationship conflicts as they interact with conditions for drug abuse.

There is evidence that supports the SE approach to understanding and treating cannabis dependence. Cannabis dependence may adversely affect interpersonal relationships (Solowij & Grenyer, 2002a). Heavy use during adolescence may produce a developmental lag, entrenching adolescent styles of thinking and coping which can impair one's ability to form adult interpersonal relationships (Baumrind & Moselle, 1985; Kandel & Logan, 1984; Kandel et al., 1986).



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