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.

Meet the specialists

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
 

Harm Reduction is just that, reducing harm in the use of substances. While there is value in abstinence models of treatment and many find success with this model, it doesn't work for everyone. I was trained in Harm Reduction Therapy a few years ago and find it has been helpful in embracing a de-stigmatizing and "curiously compassionate" approach to substance use for individuals and families.

— Nicole Goudreau-Green, Counselor in Pleasantville, NY

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 Icenogle Konnoly, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Lacey, WA
 

Change doesn't happen instantly. I work with clients who engage in harmful behaviors including self-harm, disordered eating, substance use, gambling, etc but aren't ready to fully stop. These behaviors serve a purpose and meet a need. We will work together to identify these needs and build on new tools and strategies to reduce your reliance on harmful behaviors. Harm reduction helps reduce the damage related to these behaviors using a realistic and non-judgemental approach.

— Julie Smith, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Waterford, CT

I have worked in substance use field since 2016, mostly with the adolescent population. I work through a harm reduction point of view as one it can be dangerous to suddenly quit "harder substances" but also because it makes it less likely for relapse to occur. This treatment has also worked for those individuals who self-harm, by finding healthier ways to cope while reducing the negative coping skills being currently engaged.

— Juzmin Molina, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
 

Sometimes, the idea of complete abstinence from a substance or behavior is too much to handle. My belief is that this should not keep you out of therapy. Through harm reduction, we can make small changes piece by piece while working through the other issues. It is important to push yourself in therapy, but I do not believe that it has to be an all-or-nothing approach. Harm reduction definitely isn't for everyone, but it is an option to be explored for those who are hesitant to start therapy out of fear of letting go of unhealthy ways of coping.

— Jessica Kilbride, Clinical Social Worker in White Plains,

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
 

2.5 years in addiction counseling with focus on harm reduction

— Jennifer Rosselli, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Acton, MA

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
 

I have been practicing harm reduction since 2005, when I started volunteering to hand out bleach kits to youth experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness outside of my hometown: Detroit, MI. Since then, I have worked with sex workers, folks living with various addictions, people in recovery, individuals who self-harm, clients facing chronic suicidality, and others often navigating risk, to do so as safely as possible, and with dignity.

— Lance Hicks, Clinical Social Worker

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 Orlando, FL
 

Rebecca has worked with a lot of individuals who have current maladaptive coping strategies (e.g. nonsuicidal self-injurious behavior, substance use, etc.), and she has worked with client in harm reduction strategies that are the first step towards self-care.

— Rebecca Neubauer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA

I am not here to ask you to give up anything you need. I strive to honor what care, coping, and surviving look like for you at any given time. I want to support you in exploring any goals you have around behavior change and help you make changes that are a good fit for you. And I approach this work with gentleness, compassion, and flexibility.

— Colette Gordon, Counselor in Portland, OR