The Psychotherapist Association for
Gender & Sexual Diversity

Incorporating Harm Reduction METHODS into your PRIVATE Practice

October 28, 2017, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
(Breakfast included; lunch on one's own)
Alliance Health Project, 1930 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Instructors: Cynthia Hoffman, LMFT, and Claudia Figallo, MPH, CATC

6.0 CE credits
Registration Fee:
Standard: $225.00
Gaylesta Members & AHP Employees: $175
Interns: $100 (limited availability - register soon)
To Register, click here 

This seminar will provide an introduction to the use of Harm Reduction in the psychotherapeutic treatment of clients facing concerns around their alcohol and other drug use. Current treatment points to harm reduction as the most effective means of supporting individuals who use substances by meeting them within their particular place in the drug use continuum. From this point, harm reduction helps them explore ambivalence and build awareness around their relationship to drugs and alcohol. It supports the client into change through the acquisition of a variety of skills.  It is up to the client to decide treatment goals, which may include abstinence or controlled use. By meeting the individual where they are and assisting them to move in the direction of self-identified positive change, this model helps to strengthen both the collaborative nature of the client-therapist relationship and the client’s commitment to change.

The practice of Harm Reduction Psychotherapy requires a paradigm shift between traditional drug treatment which requires individuals to be fully abstinent of all substances before entering into a therapeutic alliance. Harm Reduction Psychotherapy works under the principle that therapeutic work can be done even while a client is still using substances. It aims to gain awareness around a client’s using pattern and make incremental changes which can support growth and well-being. It does not ignore the fact that using substances can include a level of risk and aims to support the client in making informed choices around their drug and alcohol use by supporting self-efficacy and autonomy.

The Harm Reduction paradigm can be especially useful in working within the LGBTQQIA community, given that rates of substance use are generally higher than in the general population, and reflective of both some of the internal dynamics of the individual, and some of the social and sexual contexts of this community. It is therefore important to carefully examine the various determinants of use and misuse, and the costs/benefits of such use or changes in use. Harm Reduction aims to address specific concerns of gender and sexuality diverse individuals, such as loneliness, complex trauma, lack of connection and community, intimate relationships and depression. The use of this paradigm in addressing substance use is also consistent with prevalent strategies used for associated behavioral concerns, such as sexual risk-taking.

This seminar will teach the history of Harm Reduction Psychotherapy, the principles of Harm Reduction and how psychotherapists in private practice can work from a Harm Reduction perspective. Issues of substance use assessment, goal setting and counter-transference when working with substance users will be addressed. A reading list will be provided before the training to allow participants to familiarize themselves with basic Harm Reduction concepts.

Continuing Education Information
This workshop is sponsored by Gaylesta: The Psychotherapist Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Gaylesta is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Gaylesta maintains responsibility for this program and its content. These CE units may also be credited to other licensed mental health professionals, such as LCSWs, LPCC, and LMFTs. CE credit will only be awarded for full attendance. 

Gaylesta, Inc. is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  Gaylesta, Inc. maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Seminar Leaders
Cynthia Hoffman, LMFT
, is a psychotherapist in private practice. She has been practicing and teaching Harm Reduction Psychotherapy for over 18 years in both private practice and agency settings. She runs Harm Reduction Therapy Groups in private practice as well as seeing individuals and couples.

Claudia Figallo, MPH, CATC, has been providing Harm Reduction counseling to individuals with co-occurring disorders, the LGBTQ community and young people since 2000. She worked at the Alliance Health Project for 12 years and provides trainings to various agencies around the Bay Area. She uses principles of Motivational Interviewing, Creative Arts and Mindfulness in her work with drugs users. She also works in private practice.

What is Harm Reduction Psychotherapy, and whom is it for?
What are the fundamentals of Harm Reduction Psychotherapy?
How did Harm Reduction Psychotherapy emerge in the field of treatment of alcohol and other drug use?
What are the ways in which Harm Reduction Psychotherapy is a valuable approach in working with clients from the LGBTQQIA community?
What does it take to practice Harm Reduction Psychotherapy?
What are countertransference issues that need to be examined in working with substance-using clients? 

Participants will be able to:

  • Learn the history and development of the philosophy and practice of Harm Reduction Therapy.
  • Identify at least 2 principles of Harm Reduction as they pertain to clinical work with clients who use alcohol and other drugs.
  • Describe the language utilized in Harm Reduction and in traditional substance use treatment, and discuss how language affects outcomes.
  • Learn at least 4 Harm Reduction applications / interventions that can take place in a private practice setting.
  • Specify how substance use impacts people who identify as LGBTQQIA, and how Harm Reduction can support members of this community.
  • Learn 2 techniques in each of the following, and how they relate to Harm Reduction: Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness, sensory awareness, and Creative Arts.
  • Identify and discuss 3 countertransference concerns when working with substance-using clients.

Target Audience
This program is open to clinical psychologists, counselors, psychotherapists, case managers, social workers, marriage & family therapists, addiction treatment specialists, other mental health professionals and those working within the LGBTQ community. It is not appropriate for the general public.

There are no potential conflicts of interest for the instructors in providing this seminar on behalf of Gaylesta.