Access Institute | Harm Reduction Therapy: A Different Approach
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04 Oct Harm Reduction Therapy: A Different Approach

Harm Reduction Therapy: A Different Approach

Among the many important therapeutic services Access Institute offers the community is Harm Reduction Group Therapy – a client-centered, collaborative approach that addresses substance use problems along with the underlying psychological issues driving them. Participants receive support and a safe place to address the isolation, depression, anxiety, and shame related to substance use, all at very affordable sliding-scale rates.

We recently checked in with Access Institute post-graduate fellow Clara Brandt, co-facilitator of the Harm Reduction Group, to ask her about what makes the group so important and unique.

How do you define Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is an approach that respects people’s complex reasons for using substances. Harm reduction aims to understand a person’s relationship to substances, and to reduce the negative consequences of their use.
How is Harm Reduction different from 12 step program meetings?
Harm reduction does not have set goals or parameters, such as abstinence or using less. Instead, participants are encouraged to develop their own goals. One may wish to maintain their current level of use while working to offset unpleasant consequences of their use. One may wish to stop using one substance while continuing use of another. One may wish to track triggers for using a particular substance that has proven to be problematic. Goals may change over time.
Tell us a little about why a group format is good for substance use issues, and how does the group fit with someone also in individual therapy?
In a group format, participants can hear others who grapple with similar issues, which can begin to break down the secrecy and shame that can often be a part of substance use. It can also create a sense of community, which makes it more possible to encounter and digest difficult aspects of one’s own relationship with substances.
Why are you passionate about this group?
As a new co-facilitator of this group, I have been struck by the way the group participants are able to make use of one another to better understand and manage their use of substances. Group members create opportunities to connect, and generatively draw from others’ experiences.
Harm Reduction Group Therapy is offered every Monday, from 7:30-8pm, at Access Institute. For more information or to join the group, call our intake line at (415) 861-5449 x380, or email us at Fees range from $20-$50 per group session.

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