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Clinical Philosophy

For the full version of our Clinical Philosophy, please go to Program


Holistic Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual

Addiction Services for York Region embraces a holistic, biological, psychological, social and spiritual approach to addiction and we believe bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors need to be considered simultaneously within addiction treatment.

A holistic approach places the person at the central point of focus. The person is bigger than, and is not defined by, the addictive behaviour.

Relational and Attachment Perspectives

We also believe the experience of addiction needs to be viewed within the context of relationships, including multigenerational family system, societal and cultural systems.  As a result, addiction is defined in relational terms, as an unhealthy relationship between the person and the substance/activity, where addiction becomes a coping mechanism, perpetuating negative consequences and their recurrence.  We believe substance use/activity acts as a medium to provide temporary relief from overwhelming experiences.

We believe wellness is more than symptom removal. We treat the person in a system rather than treating the addiction symptom in isolation. Systemic intervention addresses three levels of relationships: the person’s relationship with the substance/gambling; the person’s relationship with self; and the imbalance of interpersonal interactions that result from addictive behaviour. 

Harm Reduction

The agency uses a harm reduction approach in addiction treatment. Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies, from lessening the harm to abstinence. We equally respect clients who choose abstinence or harm reduction.


Diagram of Bio-Psycho-Social- Spiritual Model of Addiction©

Diagram of Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Model of Addiction©


Trauma-Informed Practice

We acknowledge that trauma can be a very common experience (SAMSA, 2014), and can have a wide impact to an individual's well being. Trauma-informed services prioritize the individual’s safety, choice, and control in every phase of service delivery. We also acknowledge that there can be an interrelationship between trauma and addictive behaviour, where substance use can be a coping mechanism. 

We also acknowledge the importance of trauma informed practice at staff and organizational levels. Staff self-care and a supportive organizational environment are essential for high quality of care to clients.

Cultural Competency and Diversity

Addiction Services for York Region is committed to culturally appropriate services and related support whenever possible. We acknowledge and are conscious of this dynamic when cultures interact at staff level and at service delivery levels. We value the diversity of the community and we continue to strive to be a culturally competent organization on multiple levels including institutional, policy, staff competence, and service delivery levels, which reflect an understanding of cultural diversity.


Diagram of Bio-Psycho-Social- Spiritual Treatment Model of Addiction©

  • The person is the centre of treatment. The focus is not only on addiction, but the whole person.
  • Systemic intervention addressing bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of addiction.

Diagram of Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Treatment Model of Addiction©


Circle of Care

Holistic treatment can be carried out through multiple programs where there may be a concentration of focus on biological, psychological or social aspects of addiction.  All programs work together to provide comprehensive and complimentary care to our clients.

Addiction Services for York Region Circle of Care                                                                                                                               


          For references & footnotes, please see the full version (under Program)