Harm Reduction Therapy

Harm reduction, or harm minimization, accepts that idea that many people can’t or won’t completely stop using drugs or alcohol. The term “harm reduction” refers to a framework for helping reduce the harmful consequences of use when abstinence is not a realistic option. Although harm reduction was originally and most frequently associated with substance use, it is increasingly being applied to a multitude of other behavioral disorders. A core tenant of harm reduction is a relaxation on the emphasis on abstinence as the only acceptable goal and criteria of success. Instead, smaller incremental changes in the direction of reduced harmfulness of drug use are encouraged and accepted. Think a therapist armed with harm reduction techniques might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s harm reduction experts today.

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I have a graduate certificate in Substance Use Counseling. Since 2015, I have completed training and worked in substance use counseling at residential treatment centers, college counseling centers, and outpatient therapy centers. I have received training in harm reduction therapy and motivational interviewing for substance use and currently work full-time as the Alcohol & Other Drug Coordinator at UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center.

— Brittany Sievers, Psychologist in Austin, TX

Harm Reduction therapy is one of my favorite approaches to working with someone. It is most commonly known as the safest way to engage with drugs and alcohol whether that be through using with someone else, or setting boundaries around the ways you may use. I find the aspect of preserving ones safety extremely beneficial even when someone may be seeing me about something in no way related to drug or alcohol use.

— Dan Escobar, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Harm reduction can assist in helping clients who are ready to begin stages of change without completely eradicating undesired behaviors, such as self-harming, by replacing them with less harmful behaviors.

— Mariah Masell, Social Worker in Grand Rapids, MI

Harm Reduction Therapy is a modality that comes from the addiction treatment universe. While I don't treat addictions specifically, I have found that harm reduction is a very helpful framework for reducing unwanted behaviors, such as self-harm, over indulgent behaviors, and other maladaptive coping strategies that we seek to change and replace.

— Kristin Sanders, Clinical Social Worker in , NC

As a therapist, my expertise in harm reduction therapy is based on extensive training and experience. I prioritize compassion, non-judgment, and meeting clients where they are in their journey. I successfully support clients in reducing harm associated with substance use by using a client-centered and strengths-based approach. My commitment to harm reduction is rooted in a compassionate and non-stigmatizing approach that respects clients' autonomy and promotes positive change at their own pace.

— Peter Addy, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

I have worked with this approach within LGBTQ+ populations and with people struggling with addiction. I have also presented professionally on this topic.

— Margaret Keig, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Maitland, FL

My career has been spent working towards reduced harm for all clients. That often requires out of the box and individualized thinking. Often, mental health treatment is given and it is required that a client fit into the modality to 'succeed'. Harm Reduction leads to more authentic and improved outcomes as it meets the person where they are at and builds upon small successes. It is an Empowerment-based practice utilizing one's own knowledge, skills and experience.

— Laurie Smith, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Plymouth, MI

Drinking water, wearing a seatbelt and using condoms are all types of harm reduction. Let's talk about the gentle way to get more clarity and groundedness in your life and reduce negative consequences.

— Treah Caldwell, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

Self-Harm Reduction Therapy helps people work through their pain & suffering, instead of staying “stuck” and increasing it. Distress Tolerance is a DBT Skill that I teach clients, so they learn safe ways to survive crisis situations without making them worse. When we can accept reality for what it is, we can free ourselves from our own personal prison, and safely move forward to build a healthier life worth living.

— Cassie Konnoly, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Lacey, WA

I understand that for some people with some disorders it may not be easy to stop problematic behaviors completely. I help people make changes where they can and when they can in an attempt to live more satisfying lives in a safe way. I work with people who are struggling with self-harm, eating disorder symptoms, drug and alcohol abuse and help them find ways to manage symptoms and behaviors as best they can in the moment.

— Joy Zelikovsky, Psychologist in Milford, CT

Harm reduction begins with the basic assumption that it is possible to have healthy relationships with the behaviors and substances you choose to engage with in your life. Harm reduction does not demand abstinence, but sometimes taking a break can help you get a new perspective. If you are concerned that you have an unhealthy relationship with a substance, habit, or even a person, let's take an honest look together to find ways to reduce harm and increase your sense of satisfaction in life.

— Lucius Wheeler, Licensed Professional Counselor in Ashland, OR

At the core of harm reduction therapy is a respect for human rights. Working from a harm reduction approach means that I meet you where you are and on your own terms when it comes to substance use of any other behaviors deemed "harmful" by society. My question is, "what would you like your drug use or sexual behaviors to look like," and we can work from your answer to determine how you can be safe and comfortable.

— Liz Silverman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Brooklyn, NY

Harm reduction is just that--reducing harm wherever possible. I use this type of therapy for people who struggle with alcohol use, thc use, other substances, or other behaviors that could be done in a safer, less risky way. Abstinence works for some people but not for others. I won't put you into a one- size-fits all box.

— Amber Holt, Clinical Social Worker in Gig Harbor, WA