How the programme works

Our programme is holistic and client-centred.  We build a personally-tailored care plan for each client based on their individual needs, circumstances and personal strengths.  We consider not only addiction itself, but also the physical and mental health of each client, their emotional well-being, their family circumstances and their needs in respect of finances, housing, education, training and wider social integration. Our aspiration for every client is that they complete treatment with the confidence to sustain their recovery, maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and have a clear plan of action to attain their future goals and ambitions.

Our approach is integrative.  A personal recovery programme, therapeutic groups and workshops are interwoven with education, recreational activities, practical support and the day-to-day routines of a therapeutic community and it is the whole of this programme that comes together to provide a comprehensive plan of action to address treatment care and support needs.   Treatment is based on firm clinical evidence and is in line with Department of Health guidance on best treatment practice. This means that we use a range of therapeutic techniques including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI) and mindfulness.  One-to-one counselling is provided at an appropriate stage in a client’s treatment, usually when cognitive processes have adjusted to substance-free conditions and concentration span is sufficient to engage meaningfully with a counsellor in a counselling session.  

This former client talks about learning to work with his counsellor...  

Residential treatment provides clients with the security, the space and the time to identify and achieve their personal goals. The issues covered by the programme are very wide, and will include:-

  • Education about addiction: addictive process, understanding emotional triggers and relapse prevention strategies and techniques;
  • Identifying and managing feelings such as  anxiety and anger, guilt, shame and fear;
  • Restoring and improving relationships with families or partners;
  • Developing self esteem, life skills and recovery capital.

The structured parts of the treatment programme include the following: all group work is facilitated by suitably trained and qualified counsellors.

Process groups

Addressing thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours in the here and now, giving feedback in a supportive and non-confrontational way; dealing with emotions and learning you are not alone in your recovery process.  A safe and intimate interpersonal group in which peers get to know each other and develop a deeper understanding of themselves through their relationships with others in the group.  

Goals group

Giving & receiving feedback with your peers, setting goals, measuring and recognising progress. Where have you got to so far? What still needs to be done? Peers help you to set personal development goals which are specific and can be evidenced.  Personal goals are reviewed every three weeks with feedback from group.


Themed educational groups usually running in courses of six weekly sessions.  These workshops are about participation, practical involvement, and reflection, raising awareness, challenging, supporting, learning and developing social skills like empathy, listening and working as a team.  Mindfulness, Relapse prevention, Anger management, Dealing with anxiety, Assertiveness, Communication skills are some of the courses available.  There are also trauma informed, gender-specific workshops for men and for women.

Individual Counselling

Counselling usually takes place through weekly one-to-one sessions over a fixed period, where you can talk in depth and in confidence and address powerful emotional issues which may be related to the underlying causes of addiction.

Personal Support

You will be allocated a named Recovery Worker from the day you arrive until your departure, and they will help you to plan your programme, stay focused and motivated, deal with all practical needs, including: financial, legal, medical appointments, housing, day-to-day life issues, household maintenance, shopping, cooking & menu planning.  Members of the recovery team are on hand 24 hours a day.

User Involvement

Service users are encouraged to participate and to have a voice in how the treatment programme is organised and developed.  The Service User Group is a regular forum for house representatives, and all residents participate in weekly house meetings which cover practical housekeeping issues, transport to meetings, shopping, maintenance, buddying and support for new arrivals.  A weekly meeting is also held for the whole residential community to come together and bring issues for open discussion.


All clients are assisted in registering with a local general practice (GP) with whom we work closely.  Medication is managed, and support is given so that clients can see dentists, opticians, receive BBV screening and advice, and access sexual health clinics. We liaise with mental health professionals and have developed pathways into local NHS mental health services.

Diversity and Equality

It is important for everybody’s recovery that we all respect and value diversity and that no individual is disadvantaged or excluded from full participation in the treatment programme.  As well as ensuring that any concerns about bullying, racism, sexism and homophobia are properly addressed, we aim to ensure that every member of staff is able to offer support with respect to an individual’s religious, ethnic, cultural, spiritual and sexual diversity needs. Each client’s recovery worker will offer practical and emotional support around individual needs. We also facilitate an identity group for our clients; this weekly group runs for six-weeks and supports clients in exploring the concept of personal identity, culture and celebrating difference. 

Peer support

The peer support system can provide a powerful life-changing experience for a client, and many “graduates” of the Nelson Trust say that their housemates gave them the strength and courage to succeed in treatment.  Coming from all walks of life, bringing to treatment a wealth of knowledge and experience and sharing those experiences, the amusing and the tragic, peers build mutual identification. Our residents make connections with each other and the world as they realise they are not alone in their journey to overcome addiction and achieve recovery.

Community Mutual Aid Group Meetings

Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) recovery groups meet regularly in the local area. SMART meetings are available for senior peers when introduced as part of their recovery care plan. Every resident is expected to attend at least two meetings each week, and transport is provided.  Regular attendance at these meetings is an important introduction to recovery – an opportunity to learn about and engage with the wider recovery community and develop safe, supportive networks.

Social Activities

There are all kinds of events through the year including Christmas and New Year, national holidays, birthdays, personal anniversaries and farewells to peers who complete treatment.  We offer the clients an opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the Nelson Christmas Pantomime and encourage clients to produce other plays, musical performances and poetry recitals throughout the year. For many clients events like these can be closely associated with alcohol and other substances. We support clients to celebrate and enjoy these occasions without the need for any mood-altering substances.