Here at Comprehensive Wellness Centers we pride ourselves on leading the way not only clinically, but also in research, professional training, and education. Comprehensive Wellness Centers is a certified research site for The Alliance Lab, housed within the College of Education at Florida Atlantic University.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that over 26 million Americans engage in illicit drug use every month. The cost of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and tobacco use is estimated at over $700 billion annually in costs related to lost productivity, criminal activity and medical care. While there is ample evidence that substance abuse treatment can be effective, the relapse rate is estimated to range from 40-60% of all substance abuse clients. Recent research has identified that elements of the therapeutic relationship (decreases in alliance ratings, increases in client’s negative affect) can be detrimental to treatment outcomes. Therefore, there is a critical need to identify the sequences of interactions between therapists and clients that can determine whether a client will continue in therapy or drop out of treatment.

Our central hypothesis, based on published studies and our own preliminary data, is that there are unique emotional presentations by clients in substance abuse treatment that must be effectively responded to by therapists in order to build a strong therapeutic relationship, particularly in the first session. Once the therapeutic relationship is built, it must be maintained as well in order to be successful. Our rationale for this hypothesis is that by looking at the dynamical mechanisms of the therapeutic relationship, we can find the signals within the relationship that can predict the successful (or unsuccessful) substance abuse treatment. Our innovative use of dynamical systems mathematical modeling, which allow investigators to deeply understand complex systems that are apt to change, will identify the factors of the therapeutic relationship that lead to early drop-out (or persisting) in substance abuse treatment.

– Dr. Paul Peluso


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