ID: HR19-880

Presenting author: Andrew Tatarsky, PhD

Presenting author biography:

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and developer of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP), which he describes in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems. He’s founder and director of the Center for Optimal Living, a treatment and professional training center.

An Integrative Harm Reduction Therapy Approach to Addictions: Addressing the Roadblocks to Healing, Growth and Positive Change

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD

More than one-third of Americans struggle with problematic substance use and other risky or addictive behaviors, but they often have a great deal of ambivalence about changing them. Research suggests that although more than 80% of this group is not ready to take action around positive change, over 90% of treatment programs are oriented to treat people who are motivated to take action. Moreover, data suggests that the abstinence-only policy of most treatment programs is a primary barrier to accessing treatment for many people with problematic substance use who need and want it. Even with clients whose issues are mild on the severity spectrum and who show up in most therapists’ offices, it’s difficult getting to the heart of the complex reasons, unique to each person, for this roadblock to change. Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) is based on a comprehensive psychobiosocial model for understanding and working with people with problematic substance use across the entire spectrum of readiness to change and around non-abstinence goals. It can be immediately incorporated into an existing practice or organization. Learning Objectives for this workshop include, but are not limited to the following-

1. Assess how addictive behavior reflects the interplay of biology, meaning, habit, and social context, and the implications for treatment.
2. Explain why the harm reduction stance of “meeting people where they are” is essential to effective treatment.
3. Describe seven therapeutic tasks combining relational, CBT, and mindfulness interventions to help people change addictive behaviors.
4. Use strategies to address risky behaviors in session, including Urge Surfing, Unwrapping the Urge, Microanalysis, Embracing Ambivalence, Decisional Balance, and the Ideal Use Plan.