“Where Choice Counts”
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What is Harm Reduction Psychotherapy?
"The term Harm Reduction Therapy (HRT) has been coined to refer to the several treatment models that are currently being developed and tested in the United States and around the world. These harm reduction treatment models can be used in outpatient settings, residential treatment, homeless programs, traditional drug treatment programs, medical services, community outreach programs among other service delivery settings.
Harm Reduction Therapy (HRT) is based on the belief that alcohol and drug problems including substance abuse and dependence develop in individuals through a unique interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. HRT is a non-judgmental approach to helping people experiencing alcohol and drug problems to reduce the negative impact of substance use, abuse or dependence in their lives. Harm Reduction Therapy understands that people use alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons. It addresses the complex relationship that people develop with these psychoactive substances over the course of their lives. In HRT, concerns related to drug and alcohol use are addressed simultaneously with their social and occupational impacts as well as their psychological and emotional implications in an integrated treatment approach to these "co-occurring disorders."
Anyone is welcome to enter Harm Reduction Therapy, regardless of the status of their alcohol or drug use and regardless or their primary concerns or treatment goals. Regarding substance use, the goals of a person seeking HRT can range from complete abstinence to controlled or safer use. Paradoxically, Harm Reduction Therapy recognizes that a person's substance use and chosen treatment goals are both based on a complex unfolding of the person's desire to improve their health, relationships and overall functioning in the world.
Harm Reduction Therapy offers an alternative model of substance abuse treatment based on the principles of collaboration, respect, and self-determination that often runs counter to the addiction treatment industry in the United States with its over-reliance on the disease model of chemical dependency.
Typically, "Minnesota Model" or "12-Step" treatment platforms systematically exclude harm reduction methods as a part of the therapy process leaving many who seek help, but do meet treatment entry requirements such as an abstinence goal, with no access to treatment at all. Nonetheless, many professionals in substance abused treatment, in medicine and in allied fields have been working to incorporate harm reduction principles into their working therapy model or have explicitly made the heart of harm reduction front and center in their work with clients and patients presenting with alcohol and drug issues.
Both research on harm reduction and clinical applications of Harm Reduction
Therapy have been growing internationally at a rapid rate. Today, several
books, training centers and conferences are available to guide practitioners
in the skillful application of this pragmatic and compassionate approach
to reducing alcohol and drug-related harm to the individual user and those
in his or her family and community."