Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program

Our Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program offers a year-long immersion in the principles, theories, and practical application of harm reduction psychotherapy. Harm reduction psychotherapy is a collaborative, personalized, and empowering approach to help those with substance use issues and other risky behaviors. Our integrative perspective brings together relational psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness approaches. Previously offered at The New School for Social Research, our program is now being offered at The Center for Optimal Living.

Watch our video about the program featuring a student interview.


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Part 1 of the program begins with a 3-day intensive training that will be held in New York City at the end of September 2018. Following the completion of that intensive weekend training, Part 2 of the program consists of 15 weekly 2-hour classes in-person at The Center for Optimal Living held on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:50 p.m. See schedule below.

Students will learn about the origins and history of harm reduction psychotherapy along with the paradigm shift from an abstinence-only approach to a more collaborative and engaging model to address the spectrum of problematic substance use and other behaviors. There will be in-depth skill practice and opportunities for consultation and supervision. Classes are 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. Special guest speakers also contribute to the class and offers students the opportunity to engage with experts in the field.

Online Course

An online version of our Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program will start in February 2019. Part 1 of the program includes attending one of our 3-day intensive trainings held in New York City. If participants have already attended one of our 3-day trainings, then tuition will be adjusted to account for this. One of 3-day trainings will be held at the end of September 2018 and another one is planned for January 2019. Following the completion of that intensive 3-day training, Part 2 of the program consists of 15 weeklyclasses held ONLINE on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:50 p.m. EST beginning February 27, 2019.

Dates: February 27, March 6, March 13, March 20, March 27, April 3, April 10, April 17, April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15, May 22, May 29, June 5

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Course objectives:

•  Fundamentals for conceptualizing, assessing, and treating substance misuse and other problematic behaviors

•  Integration of psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and relational approaches

•  Knowledge of pharmacology of specific substances and how to tailor interventions accordingly

•  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

•  Identify effective strategies to develop the therapeutic alliance and track interpersonal process issues (e.g., transference, countertransference) in treatment

•  Learn strategies for engaging diverse clients and collaborating around assessments, clarification of goals, and personalized clinical treatment plans

•  Understand how cultural issues impact the therapeutic process and develop skills to work with diverse clinical populations

•  Application of emotion regulation strategies in individual and group therapy

•  In-depth practice with mindfulness-based interventions and ways it can be tailored for clinical practice in both individual and group therapy


Eligibility: This program is designed for mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, psychiatrists, graduate students and those working in harm reduction settings who wish to deepen their knowledge and skills about harm reduction principles and practices.

Tuition and Fees: The program costs a total of $3,000 and payment is due by the first class (please contact us with questions about payment options). This fee includes the required 3-day training in September. Please note that refunds or credits will not be issued once classes have started.
Class Schedule and Requirements: Classes will be held on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at The Center for Optimal Living (370 Lexington Avenue, suite 500, NYC).

Course schedule for Fall 2018-Spring 2019:
10/3, 10/10, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, 11/14, 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19, 1/9, 1/16, 1/23, 1/30, 2/6

Application Process: Please complete this online application form and send a copy of your CV and personal statement to info@cfol.org. Applications will be accepted through September 15, 2018.

Discounts: 20% off tuition if four or more students from the same agency or organization register for the program. All New School alumni and students receive a 20% tuition discount.

Continuing Education: This program consists of a total of 50 contact hours which count towards continuing education credits. The New School for Social Research’s Department of Psychology SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0199. This program has also been approved to provide continuing education credits for CASACs by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).