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Lapse And Relapse Management

Setbacks and obstacles are a normal part of life and can be planned for in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Lapse and relapse management is necessary when learning any new skill or trying to change behavior, and can be particularly beneficial when working with clients with addictions. This Lapse and Relapse Management CBT worksheet encourages reflection upon setbacks and obstacles, focusing on what can be learned from them.


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches clients life skills for managing problems. Setbacks and obstacles are a part of life and so Lapse And Relapse Management is necessary when learning any new skill since setbacks are anticipated parts of the learning process. ‘Planning for’ and ‘learning from’ relapse are helpful parts of therapeutic work. When working with clients with addictions / dual diagnosis anticipating these setbacks and having a framework for reflecting upon them can be particularly beneficial, although planning for setbacks is applicable to most CBT work.



The sections of the worksheet guide clients to reflect upon a recent setback and include sections on:

  • Why the setback occurred (triggers, vulnerability factors, what sense has been made from it)
  • What I have learned from the setback
  • With hindsight what I would do differently (planning)
  • What I’ll do from now on (making a concrete plan)
  • Reflection on times that I’m likely to be vulnerable to other setbacks
  • Marlatt, G.A and Donovan, D.M (2005). Relapse Prevention: Maintenance Strategies in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviours (2nd edition). Guilford Press.

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