Covert Worksheet


  1. Identify your most dangerous types of high risk situations Enter a name for this type of high-risk situation in the Title Field.
  2. Use the History Review to become familiar with the sequences of events that leads to a first lapse. In Field 1, specify the context. This may include psychological state, social environmnent, or a general [not context specified].
  3. Identify a warning signal you can use to trigger the execution of a coping response and enter it in Field 2.
  4. Review the Coping Response Crib Sheet and identify one or several coping responses that might help you through this kind of crisis, and enter them in Field 3.
  5. Repeat this thought experiment for different contexts or different coping tactics. Imagine the high-risk situation including as much detail as possible, and imagine yourself executing the coping tactic. Rate how likely it is that you would be able to execute it and how effective your predict it will be. Enter your rating in Field 4.
  6. Promote one of the coping tactics to the expensive research of in vivo testing.

Here is a sample worksheet for a drug user preparing for the high-risk situation "Call from the dealer." When he began the exercise, the first high-risk situation that came to mind had been implicated in several previous relapses: A phone call from his dealer. And so the client considered a call from his dealer as the most urgent high-risk situation.

He first imagined getting a call from the dealer and how he would react once he realized the dealer was on the line. He decided that a good coping response would be to review in his imagination the terrible consequences of relapsing. During the thought experiment we could visualize himself executing the plan, and while he felt uncomfortable he felt he would be able to do it.

He also considered how he should respond if he got a voice mail message from the dealer and considered how things would play out if he called the dealer back and explained he was quitting and did not want any more contact with the dealer, versus simply not calling back. would be best off not calling the dealer back. wondered what might be a good way to respond.

Finally, he considered how he would handle this situation if he were particularly vulnerable - e.g., when in a negative emotional state. He concluded that it would be best to attempt to initiate a state change rather than interact with the dealer when feeling weak and vulnerable. He decided to try out a thought experiment in which he would "pull up into adult" to get into a dispassionate state to respond to the social demands of the phone call and then aim attention to the penalties of relapse. this is the best result he got from this group of thought experiments and so selected this tactic it use when he actually got a call from the dealer.


Trigger for coping R

Possible coping tactics

Imagery rehearsal rating

No specified predisposing condition

Call from dealer

Imagine penalties of relapse,

Feels uncomfortable but can do it

no context specified

message from dealer

Call back and tell dealer to not call me anymore; don't call back

Talking to dealer too dangerous so don't call back

Negative emotional state

Call from dealer

Pull up into adult then answer Will’s question

Better than imagining penalities


Expensive Research: The Personal Experiment

The objective of the Personal Experiment is to determine which coping responses actually work in the real world. This is expensive research, because you may not be able to execute the coping response the way you want or expect to without considerable preparation. People relapse not because they want to fail, but because it is much more difficult to execute a coping response during a high-risk situation than most people realize. You can do it, but you must prepare in advance.

Forms to Prepare for Personal Experimentation

The End > >

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