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

When working with clients who have substance use concerns I will meet them where they are at in their journey. I do not believe it is my decision as a counselor to force sobriety, or to encourage a client to take steps that they are not ready for. I believe in reducing the harm of using any substance and following the client's lead in the change process.

— Lauren Lewis, Licensed Professional Counselor in Loveland, CO

Many clients who struggle with substances are not interested or able to pursue total sobriety. These folks have every right to treatment and a nonjudgemental partner to help them explore the role of alcohol and drugs in their lives, and to create manageable, self-directed goals. I specialize in helping folks moderate their alcohol use when they recognize it is having negative effects on their lives. I also encourage clients to find support and community outside the therapy room, offering suggestions and referrals when helpful. This may mean attending support groups that do not promote abstinence as the only acceptable goal; joining an online community of others who are also moderating; using a moderation workbook; or attending harm reduction therapy groups.

— Maysie Tift, MFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Rafael, CA

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 Santa Monica, 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

I help you work towards YOUR goals, not a goal set for you. We can explore what you want your life to look like in relation to substances and set a plan to get there.

— Stephanie Taylor, Mental Health Counselor in Belton, TX

I developed a harm reduction outpatient treatment program for the State of Minnesota. This program worked with clients on gaining tools to significantly reduce their chemical use, improve quality of life, and decrease impact of the chemical use on the community. Many of the clients determined their goal was complete abstinence as they gained confidence in the ability to access coping tools in high risk situations. They also worked on reduction of mental health symptoms.

— Julia Murtha, Drug & Alcohol Counselor in Minneapolis, MN