Maintaining the Psycho-emotional Health of Addiction Professionals

In the context of COVID-19, Dianova Chile developed a novel self-care programme, a best practice recognised by the Pompidou Group

Self-Care programme

Launch of the “Self-Care programme”: first session with addiction counselors from Dianova’s outpatient programme for minors with addiction problems – screenshot: Dianova Chile

In the wake of COVID-19 a sudden surge of teleworking practices appeared among addiction professionals. This has posed obvious challenges. Addiction professionals work with people whose profile is complex; in many cases they may also find themselves in risky social situations. Nevertheless, they must endeavour to establish supportive bonds with people in treatment, which implies an intensive commitment.

Adequately helping people in addiction treatment can result in bio-psycho-emotional burnout. Creating these bonds requires addiction professionals to have specific dispositions and a capacity for self-care that enable them to empathize with the residents and provide them with adequate follow-up. All these skills are essential to the provision of quality services.

Novel team care programme

Implementing self-care strategies to maintain the psycho-emotional health of professionals working in Dianova Chile’s support services is key. Dianova Chile has decided to implement this “Team Self-Care” programme for the 25 addiction professionals working in two of its facilities, namely the centres of  Curicó and Romeral.

Also participating are 1 engineer and 8 psychologists of which 6 form the volunteer team, providing individual sessions to the professionals most affected by the situation.

Implementation of programme

Two lines of action have been identified. The first one is individual and aims to work on concepts related to self-knowledge while focusing on stress and anxiety management, in the format of five 1-hour, weekly individual sessions.

The second line is related to group work and involves working in the current pandemic context (sharing the professional’s understanding and perception of the current situation and its related risks), in addition to ensuring the continuity of the work carried out by the team since 2019.

A methodology has been designed based on a total of 10 online sessions through the Zoom platform, with five sessions for each team. After this period, and depending on sanitary conditions, three face-to-face sessions will be held, in the presence of both groups, totaling thirteen sessions at the end of the programme.

The project should be carried out until November 2020, at which time a formal assessment of its outcomes will be made. Until that date, the initiative will be coordinated, monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis in close cooperation with the Human Resource and quality of services departments.

Good practice recognized by the Council of Europe’s Pompidou Group

This good practice has been the subject of a publication on the Pompidou Group’s “Save lives, protect people” portal. The Pompidou Group is the Council of Europe’s drug policy cooperation platform (the Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation, it includes 47 member states, 27 of which are members of the European Union). The Pompidou Group provides a forum for open debate, exchange of good practices, training, as well as the promotion of innovative, evidence-based practices.

In the context of the pandemic, the Pompidou Group has created the “Save lives, protect people” platform to prevent harm to people who use drugs and those around them. The portal helps to exchange good practices  in the field of addiction treatment and prevention in the context of COVID to ensure people’s rights and quality of services. It includes good practices published in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian and German.

Addiction services are essential services

On behalf of Dianova International, we would like to congratulate Dianova Chile for their innovative programme and we encourage all the organizations working in this field to face the challenges posed by the pandemic and take steps to adapt to these changes, while ensuring the health and quality of life of their staff and residents.

  • “When everything is on pause, some of us must carry on”: addiction services are essential – Dianova’s campaign


Addictive disorders are a public health problem, it is thus critical to take great care of the psycho-emotional health of addiction professionals so that they can continue to provide quality services even in these turbulent times.

In conclusion, we hope that through initiatives such as Dianova Chile’s, professionals will be better supported so that they can continue to provide their valuable services.