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The 5-Step Method helps affected family members where they have loved ones with addiction problems. It is one of the few methods that helps gives support to family member for themselves in their own right rather than being solely supporters for their loved one.

It is grounded in rigorous research and has a clear theoretical model (the Stress-Strain-Coping-Support model) which underpins the intervention. The approach is both simple and effective in filling a gap that exists for family support. Practitioners in a range of services who work with family members can use the 5-Step Method once they have been trained.

Numerous international research papers have been published about both the Stress-Strain-Coping-Support model and the 5-Step Method. For a list of publications, click here.

The current developers of the 5-Step Method are members of Addiction and the Family International Network

  • Richard Velleman (Professor, University of Bath, UK & Sangath Community NGO, Goa, India).
  • Jim Orford (Professor, University of Birmingham).
  • Gill Velleman (Freelance Management Consultant & 5-Step International Assessor).
  • Lorna Templeton (Independent Research Consultant).

5-Step Method Training Courses and 5-Step Method Accreditation

Practitioners working with family members in a range of services can use the 5-Step Method. The training focusses on participants learning about the 5-Step principles, the evidence base and on participants practicing the skills needed for them to use this method effectively. Feedback from training courses is very positive Focused, excellent practical model which is so helpful” “Liked the research-based, structured approach and focus on empowering family members”. Most importantly, family members find it very helpful and report being less stressed, coping in a better way, and developing helpful support. The 5-Step Method covers:

  • Letting the family member tell their story- listen & reassure
  • Providing relevant targeted information
  • Discussing ways of coping and responding
  • Exploring sources of support
  • Reviewing and arranging further help if needed

Courses are run for up to 18 practitioners and are generally 2 days, with 2 trainers. The training has been run across the world (England, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada). The course assumes that participants have competent basic counselling skills, so participants need to have these competencies in order to come on a course, or there needs to be a preliminary course training people in these counselling competencies. Practitioners also must have a job which provides access (or have other ways of gaining access) to affected family members with whom they can work, to use the 5-Step Method once trained. In order to ensure the training has maximum effectiveness, we need sign-up from both the practitioner who is being trained that s/he will implement the training AND from their organisation / line-manager, guaranteeing management support for the time they will take in providing help to these affected family members – this agreement covers time available, the collection of basic data and of course that the practitioner has a job which involves seeing family members.

We recommend that trained practitioners become Accredited Practitioners. This involves submitting audio-recordings of sessions carried out with consenting family members. Practitioners self-assess themselves against key competencies and only submit once they assess that they are competent. An accredited assessor then listens to the recordings and rates the practitioner against the same key competencies. Irrespective of whether they meet the competency thresholds, a numeric score and useful feedback to improve competency is given for each Step. Practitioners have told us that they find this very useful and it has really helped improve their skills. Certificates are given on completion and Professional Development points have been gained in various countries (depending on country and profession-requirements).

5-Step Method System

We can provide a system so either an organisation or a country can become self-sufficient in 5-Step Method training and delivery. This has happened in Ireland and has started in New Zealand. This is by providing training in three areas.

  • Accredited Practitioners (as outlined above)
  • Accredited Trainers (2-day course followed by the participants running and video-taping their own 5-Step Method training. The video-tapes are then assessed against a different set of clear criteria. Accredited Trainers can then go on and run 5-Step Method training which will allow participants to follow the process described above to become Accredited Practitioners)
  • Accredited Assessors (Accredited Practitioners are trained to assess others to become Accredited Practitioners via an Instruction sheet and repeated feedback until trainee assessors reach the same standard as existing Accredited Assessors)

5-Step Method Resources / Materials

All the materials below are only appropriate to be used after practitioners have received training.

5-Step Method: Practitioner and Self-Help Handbooks There are two handbooks. One for Practitioners and a Self-Help handbook for Family Members. There is also a manual for how Accredited Practitioners should use the 5-Step Method over video-conferencing instead of face-to-face in person.” There is also a Self Help Handbook for Gambling which can be adapted from the Northern Gambling Clinic.

5-Step Method: Family Member Questionnaire (UK) This is a validated questionnaire which is useful both during the 5-Step Method sessions, and (if completed either before or at the very start of the first session, and then at the end of the intervention) as a good way for practitioners, organisations, commissioners (and family members themselves) to assess whether the 5-Step Method has helped family members.

5-Step Method: DVD about the 5-Step Method. The DVD which has been produced has a number of sections, each of which has been loaded separately onto YouTube. Click onto the appropriate link:

5-Step Method: Practitioner Competency Assessment - These contain five information sheets.

If you are an Accredited Practitioner, you can also become an Accredited Assessor, and be able to assess whether other practitioners have reached the competency requirements.

5-Step Guidance Assessor Accreditation Process
5-Step Assessors Competency Form

Where to Find Out More Details

For more details, please email:

Ireland run 5-Step training via zoom and some face to face courses. For details on these please email:

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