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