Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program

This graduate-level noncredit professional certificate program offers licensed and license-eligible mental health and substance abuse practitioners specialized training in the theory and application of harm reduction psychotherapy. Certificate participants will gain knowledge and practice skills to enhance their credentials and further their careers in this field.

Classes for this program will be co-taught by Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, the developer of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP), and Dr. Jenifer Talley, a close collaborator in its continuing evolution. They are founder/director and assistant director, respectively, at The Center for Optimal Living, an outpatient treatment and professional training center in New York City using methods based on IHRP. Guest lecturers, to be announced, with expertise in specific topics will teach several classes throughout the year.

Career Possibilities

Designed for graduate students and professionals, this certificate program will provide a comprehensive framework for conceptualizing and treating substance misuse and co-occurring disorders from an integrative harm reduction perspective. Clinicians who have this specialized training will no longer need to refer clients to other providers for treatment of substance use disorders and can offer harm reduction psychotherapy services as part of their practice. Knowledge gained through this program can be adapted and applied to a variety of other clinical settings, such as psychiatric hospitals, outpatient and inpatient treatment programs, substance abuse treatment centers, public health and advocacy agencies, harm reduction centers, and private practice.

Start Fall 2014

Offered through the Department of Psychology at The New School for Social Research, the certificate is made up of a two-course sequence. The first course is offered in the fall and the second during the spring, each course meeting weekly for two hours over 12 weeks. Students are taught by intensively trained professionals in harm reduction psychotherapy and will learn the theoretical foundation and practical application of this model. The curriculum includes lectures, experiential exercises such as role-play, case conferences, and opportunities for clinical supervision, along with direct contact with field experts. Those who successfully complete both courses will receive a certificate of completion. This program has been approved to provide a total of 48 hours of continuing education credits for CASACs by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). 

Also open to advanced doctoral students in clinical psychology and graduates of the MA program’s concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling, this certificate is focused on building competencies in the following areas:

    • Fundamentals for conceptualizing, assessing, and treating substance misuse and other risky behaviors
    • Integration of psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and relational approaches
    • Knowledge of the pharmacology of specific substances and how to tailor interventions accordingly
    • Review of current epidemiology and empirical findings related to substance misuse and co-occurring disorders
    • Discussion of limitations of the disease model and rationale for providing comprehensive services based on the psychobiosocial model
    • Increased awareness of the social and political context of harm reduction
    • Strategies for engaging diverse clients and collaborating around assessments, clarification of goals, and personalized clinical treatment plans
    • Application of emotion regulation strategies in individual and group therapy
    • Understanding of the connection between trauma and substance use disorders
    • Exploration of the roles of transference, countertransference, and enactments in treatment
    • In-depth practice with mindfulness-based interventions and ways it can be tailored for clinical practice in both individual and group therapy
    • Case presentations and supervision by program faculty of clinical work

Applications are being accepted for Fall 2014. Applicants must have a graduate degree in psychology, social work, or medicine, or a CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor). Students who have completed at least one year in a doctoral program in clinical psychology or who have finished The New School’s MA program in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling are also eligible to apply. Tuition for the two-course program is $3,000 plus $160 in university fees. New School alumni are eligible for a 10 percent discount on tuition for this certificate program.

For those who wish to gain a more intensive training experience, we are also offering optional group supervision at The Center for Optimal Living and the option to participate in a 3-day training that will take place in November 2014 at The New School for Social Research.

Program Faculty

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD
Dr. Tatarsky has developed Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy for treating the spectrum of risky and addictive behavior. The therapy has been described in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and a series of papers. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the City University of New York. Dr. Tatarsky is the founder and director of The Center for Optimal Living in New York City, a treatment and professional training center; a founding member and the president of the Division on Addiction of New York State Psychological Association; a member of the board of Moderation Management Network, Inc.; a founding board member of the Association for Harm Reduction Therapy; and a clinical advisor to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. He is also a consultant in the Advanced Specialization in Couple and Family Therapy at the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University. Dr. Tatarsky trains nationally and internationally.

Jenifer Talley, PhD
Dr. Talley is the assistant director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling Concentration at the New School for Social Research. She is also the assistant director of The Center for Optimal Living, where she coordinates mindfulness and trauma-based services. Dr. Talley previously worked as a supervising psychologist at The Women's Health Project at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and has expertise in working with clients with a history of trauma and co-occurring disorders. Dr. Talley is interested in the role of mind-body strategies in helping individuals with substance use disorders and has participated in various trainings as both a participant and a facilitator.

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