A brief cognitive behavioural intervention for regular amphetamine users: a treatment guide

Phase 5: Pleasant event and activity scheduling

Page last updated: 2003

Rationale behind activity scheduling
Active scheduling of pleasurable and achievement activities
The activity record

Rationale behind activity scheduling

For people trying to cut down or stop using speed, planning pleasant and/or meaningful activities into their day means they may be able to distract themselves from thinking about using. Often, when people have been using speed for longer periods of time, they focus all their energies on making sure they have access to speed, using it, or recovering from its effects. This is often to the detriment of other activities, which may help bring enjoyment or a sense of achievement to the person's life. Thus the idea of decreasing their speed use often means a decrease in enjoyment in the life of your client. But, by planning 'pleasurable' activities into the day, people will realise that they can enjoy themselves without using speed and also, by completing achievement activities, can gain a sense of control or mastery over important aspects of their life.

Explain these ideas to your client and discuss the importance of formally structuring and prioritising these pleasurable and achievement activities into their day.

It is important to acknowledge that it is impossible to plan every moment of every day in advance. Indeed there will be times when unpredictable things happen and the client will not be able to carry out the pleasurable and achievement activities set down for that day. Discuss this with the client, and explain that the activity record is not a rigid plan, and they should not feel guilty or bad if they cannot stick exactly to the plan.

In addition, they are able to substitute alternative activities into the record if something prevents them from doing what they planned. For example, on the day a client plans to go for a walk it may be raining. So, explain to the client that in these cases, they are free to substitute an alternative pleasurable activity into that timeslot. During the session, complete the activity record for the following day with the client's help.

Active scheduling of pleasurable and achievement activities

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Exercise 5: Identifying pleasurable and achievement activities

  • Refer to the "Activities list" sheet below.

  • Ask the client to list activities they like and enjoy doing that do not involve using speed. For example, going for a walk, taking time for themselves, visiting friends, going to the beach, shopping, reading, having a cup of coffee etc. Make sure these activities are broken down into concrete components. For example, 'time to myself' needs to be broken down into the actual activities that constitute time to oneself. These could include listening to the radio, practising relaxation etc.

  • List these activities under the "Pleasurable activities" heading.

  • Next, ask the client to list the things he/she needs to do. This could include attending intervention sessions, taking medication. keeping appointments, therapy homework, looking after children, housework etc. It is important to list the components (smaller, discrete and concrete tasks). For example, break housework down into all the different activities that need to be done around the house (e.g. washing dishes etc). 'Looking after the children' should also be broken down into concrete tasks (e.g. bathing), and include doing fun things with them.

  • List these tasks under the "Achievement activities" heading.

Activities list sheet

The sheet has two headings:
  • Pleasurable activities (Things I like to do)

  • Achievement activities (Things I have to do)

The activity record

Exercise 6: The activity record

  • Refer to "The activity record" sheet below.

  • Using the list of pleasurable and achievement activities developed during the last exercise, complete with the client a schedule for the following day. Be sure to include both pleasurable and mastery activities for that day.

  • In the "Evening" section of the record, schedule in time to complete the activity record for the following day, along with any other daily homework you have set for the client to complete over the following week. Mark these activities as "Achievement activities".

  • Ask the client to sit down at the end of each day during the following week and complete the activity record for the next day. Whilst in the session, schedule in your next appointment with the client, and enter this into the activity record. If the client is aware of any appointments they must keep throughout the following week, add those to the activity record during the session.

  • Make sure the client understands the importance of including a balance of both pleasurable and achievement activities into each day. For example, each achievement activity should be followed by a pleasurable activity to help enhance and maintain motivation.
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The activity record sheet

The activity record sheet is a grid that has the seven days of the week in the top row. On the left hand side of the grid are:
  • Morning:

  • Lunch:

  • Afternoon:

  • Dinner:

  • Evening: