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Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0765703736
ISBN-10: 0765703734
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Editorial Reviews


Personal dignity and responsibility as well as compassion and the recognition that one's steps take place one day at a time are fundamental to both harm reduction and 12-step approaches to drug addiction. Tatarsky's excellent new paradigm rescues these principles with courage, compassion, and intellectual rigor. Harm reduction psychotherapy has come of age. (Ethan Nadelman)

Although this book is a good read for substance misuse specialists too, its readership should be predominantly out with the specialist field. It should be on the bookshelves of the legions of individual psychotherapists who claim no expertise with substance misusers, but who are probably working with some anyway. (Addiction Research And Theory)

Andrew Tatarsky's book, using cases submitted by practitioners from different psychological schools of thought, clearly elucidates the way harm reduction philosophy can be integrated into clinical work. The cases are varied, the practitioners have unique styles and varying approaches, and the realistic conclusions offer the reader a way to integrate slow, incremental change at the client's pace into whatever treatment model they currently use. No longer do therapists have to send people away to become abstinent before they can work with them; no longer do therapists have to feel responsible to set goals for their clients' drug use. This is a must-read for today's psychotherapists who want to practice state-of-the-art healing. (Edith Springer)

About the Author

Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from City University of New York. He has a private practice in New York City specializing in harm reduction psychotherapy with drug and alcohol users and is co-director, with Dr. Mark Sehl, of the Harm Reduction Psychotherapy and Training Associates, a treatment and training organization. His perspective on substance use problems has evolved over twenty years of experience working in the area as psychotherapist, supervisor, program director, teacher, writer, and public speaker. He is a founding member and Past President of the Addiction Division of the New York State Psychological Association and Chairperson of Mental Health Professionals in Harm Reduction.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc. (June 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765703734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765703736
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Andrew Tatarsky has developed Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP), a radical new therapy for helping people with substance use concerns and other risky behavior. The IHRP is based on compassion, acceptance, curiosity and collaboration. It supports people in clarifying goals and a path to healing, growth and positive change that are uniquely tailored to them. IHRP brings psychoanalysis, CBT and mindfulness together in a harm reduction frame. The therapy has been described in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and a series of papers. The book has been translated into Polish and Spanish. Andrew holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the City University of New York. He is Founder and Director of the Center for Optimal Living in NYC, a treatment and professional training center that is based on Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy; founding member and Past-President, Division on Addiction of New York State Psychological Association, Member of the Board of Moderation Management Network, Inc., and clinical advisor to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. He is Professor of Professional Practice, the Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program, the New School for Social Research and a consultant in the Advanced Specialization in Family and Couple's Therapy at the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University. Dr. Tatarsky trains nationally and internationally. For more information visit: www.centerforoptimalliving.com and www.andrewtatarsky.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Cohen on July 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Tatarsky and his contributors have brought the honesty, the sympathy, and the efficacy of harm reduction into the treatment of substance users, and it's about time!
"Just Say No" has failed 95% of drug users who seek treatment to have better control over their life and their substance use. It has failed them because drug use is not a disease, and abstinence is not a cure. Men and women (and young men and young women) use drugs for their benefits, although drugs, of all kinds --licit and illicit-- are not without their risks.
However the risk of developing a drug (and/or alcohol) problem does not derive solely from the drug. Tens of millions of people have had positive experiences with alcohol, marijuana, opiates, and psychydelic substances. Doesn't it make sense to identify what internal and what external factors cause a particular individual to suffer from a drug problem, rather than proclaiming drug use itself as a sickness.
Standard abstinence therapies and their institutions function by glorifying guilt, helplessness, and continuous self degradation. Standard abstinence therapy fails the overwhelming majority of people.
Tatarsky's book demonstrates, through well written and sympathetic case studies, another way to help people who have problems with their drug use, and it seems to be a better way. This book can make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Those of us who struggle to control our own alcohol or drug use, or who live with someone who is trying to cut down or quit, may greet the harm reduction approach, persuasively presented by Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, as good news indeed. A practicing psychotherapist, Tatarsky is concerned with meeting clients "where they live": In the context of drug and alcohol abuse, this entails exploring the meanings these substances hold for the individual user and grounding the therapy in the process of self-discovery---rather than requiring abstinence from the outset, which is the traditional "one-size-fits-all" approach to counseling.
The book describes ten cases, each from a different therapist who practiced "harm reduction" in treating his or her client. Many readers will be both riveted and moved by the experience of peering into these intimate sessions. The stories are well told (if somewhat unevenly written), and their subjects come across as real people. Even more compelling is Tatarsky's framing commentary, which draws out the significance of each case: the complex interaction of personal and social factors that led this particular individual to seek meaning (liberation, escape, validation) in drug use.
As to alcohol abuse, which is a component in most of these case studies, the harm reduction approach is controversial in not prescribing an outcome from the start. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which holds that "problem drinkers" (read, alcoholics-in-the-making) lose control after just one or two drinks. The individuals portrayed so appealingly in this book are empowered by their therapists to explore the space between quitting altogether and drinking to excess.
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Format: Paperback
In my opinion, there are four post-12-step classics: Marlatt's "Harm Reduction," Peele's "Diseasing of America," Miller & Rollnick's "Motivational Interviewing," and Tatarsky's "Harm Reduction Psychotherapy." My suggestion - buy all four, read all four.

Marlatt's "Harm Reduction" is a historically first (if I am not mistaken) overview of harm reduction paradigm. Peele's "Diseasing of America" is an intense but poignant critique of the 12-step "recovery industry." Miller & Rollnick's "Motivational Interviwing" is a primer on harnessing pseudo-resistance and leveraging motivation for change. Tatarsky's "Harm Reduction Psychotherapy" is a straight-forward harm reduction application book that starts its chapters from a panoramic bird's-eye view and then clinically bomb-dives into the application specifics.

The book consists of 10 chapters, each consists of a nuanced analysis of the issues at hand with a relevant and indepth case study. Like all harm-reduction literature the book bristles with humanistic courage: it meets the clients "really" where they are, it validates the existential and adaptive valence of substance use, it encourages a clinically "libertarian" stance of respecting clients' goals, it bridges harm reduction with psychoanalysis and cognitive-behavioral schools of thought, it humanizes the substance use population by debunking the preconceived notions and assumptions that still bias so many of the front-line substance use providers, and most importantly the book reminds us that harm reduction is nothing new, that, in essence, it is not a new paradigm but a return to the good ol' humanistic, non-reductionistic, non-oversimplifying, client-centered clinical stance.

I remember one of my first practicum sites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rivkah Lapidus on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend that clinicians become familiar with this paradigm, as we ought not to make people conform to rigid expectations of recovery.
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