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Assignment 1: Discussion—Denial as a Defense Mechanism

Denial is one of the most challenging defense mechanisms used by individuals with addictions. This term has been familiar to the substance abuse treatment nomenclature for many decades. It applies when a substance abuser denies the existence or severity of his or her problem. Treatment for clients in denial is typically challenging. In these cases, the focus of intervention is on helping the client acknowledge the problem. The only way treatment will be successful is if the client recognizes the existence or extent of the substance abuse.

The contemporary perspective is that denial occurs in the “pre-contemplative” stage of the change process (Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992). The denial of clients in this stage is not confronted as it was in older forms of treatment. It is viewed as a necessary beginning on the journey to sobriety. Addressing the denial requires encouraging the client to identify the ill effects as well as the perceived benefits of his or her substance abuse. The client in this stage will attempt to work toward finding internal motivation to change based on the insight gained about the effects of his or her use pattern.

Use the module readings and the Argosy University online library resources to research denial used as a defense mechanism.

Download and review the case study.

Respond to the following:

How is the use of denial by the substance-abusing client evident in the case?
What other ways might substance-abusing individuals display denial?
What approaches could you use to work with the client in the case study?
Support your responses using your module readings and authoritative resources. Incorporate theory and factual information in your response.

As noted in the introductory material above, denial is a difficult defense mechanism with which to work. However, it is not as problematic as once believed, as demonstrated by assertions such as “Until a person is ready to change there is nothing anyone else can do for them.” Fortunately, although difficult to break through denial, it is not impossible. Thus, we can help some clients even if they do not yet see their problem or are not ready to admit it (Guydish, Jessup, & Tajima, 2010). Please be sure to discuss these aspects as you address the discussion points.

In your discussion this week, first pay special attention to each of the sub-points and especially the areas that call for demonstration of a deeper understanding of the concepts by discussion features such as comparison and contrast. Also, note that the instructions specially call for supporting your response from your module readings. Note that this term is plural, so more than one of your assigned reading sources should be utilized, and at minimum the textbook needs to be used in order to demonstrate your understanding of these assigned readings.

Finally remember to accurately cite and reference all sources in APA format. There are multiple resources in Doc Sharing and the Webliography to help with this.

Guydish, J. Jessup, M., Tajima, B. (2010).Adoption of Motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 215-26. Retrieved from

Write your initial response in 2–3 paragraphs. Apply APA standards to citation of sources.

By Saturday, May 16, 2015, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through Wednesday, May 20, 2015, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses. Comment on the points made by asking questions, providing clarifications, giving another point of view, challenging their views, or showing relationships between two or more points in the discussion.

All discussion assignments in this course will be graded using a rubric. Download the discussion rubric and carefully read it to understand the expectations.

Discussion Grading Criteria


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