Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Listen to my new episode Harm Reduction with Dr. Andrew Tatarsky at http://tobtr.com/s/1960059.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
A Love Poem for Alan Marlatt
by Andrew Tatarsky
How do I honor and celebrate the life and work of Alan Marlatt? He was such an important person in my life personally and professionally and an icon in the world.
I have an image of Alan’s warm gentle face with his impish smile and sparkling eyes in the upper left side of my mind’s eye, floating like a smiling Buddha, filling my heart with love and bathed in my gratitude for what he gave me and brought into the world.
To me, Alan was a rock star! He used his warmth, compassion, courage, commitment, intelligence, creativity, power, relationships and professional stature and position to advance the best of causes. Like Marley he sang beautiful songs of compassion, acceptance and love. Like Dylan he sang moving, persuasive songs about social justice and progressive change.
Alan was my most important mentor, cousin by marriage and a very special friend. Living on opposite sides of the country, whenever we saw each other it was a special occasion. We always brought the best parts of ourselves to each other. He was an elder in my tribe. He was like the big brother I never had, watching my back. I can’t communicate how deeply grateful I am to Alan for who he was and for having him in my life and how sad I am at losing him.
As he did for countless others, Alan saved my life, he liberated me from the ideological delusion that dominates our cultural narrative about substance use, addictive behavior and their proper treatment. Growing up professionally in the age of anti-psychological disease-thinking and failed, abstinence-only treatment, I was caught in the gut-wrenching grip of a paradigm that was accepted as received truth yet failed to be helpful to most. In the late nineties I began experimenting with blasphemous non-abstinence oriented therapy with active drug users and to my surprise it worked with many. I called Alan to talk with him about my experience and he liberated me with the words, “You are doing harm reduction.” He introduced me to this new collaborative, empowering helping paradigm and my career path and mission revealed itself: to draw out the implications of harm reduction for psychotherapy. This deeply meaningful journey has guided my life since.
As if facilitating my liberation was not enough, Alan than helped shape the journey by offering advice, guidance, support and opportunities all along the way. His generosity was boundless. Alan chaired the first panel on harm reduction psychotherapy at the first national harm reduction conference and I gave my first significant talk on the subject on that panel. A year later Alan edited the first professional journal issue devoted to harm reduction psychotherapy and invited me to write my first significant article on harm reduction psychotherapy. A few years later Alan wrote the introduction to my book. He was a founding member of the Association for Harm Reduction Therapy along with me and several others, Patt Denning, Jeannie Little, Fred Rotgers and George Parks. Last year he invited me to have the honor of co-editing with him the second special journal issue on harm reduction psychotherapy.
Like me and you, Alan was a complicated multidimensional human, embodying contradiction, suffering and conflict but committed to growing and healing and transcending the challenges of a difficult past, all the while a giant in American psychology, a trailblazing, courageous scout leading the movement for compassionate progressive treatment in the addictive behaviors field for nearly 40 years. He was at the forefront of controversial change at every step. As he did with me, he mentored and helped establish the careers of countless colleagues who will carry on his legacy, promote his ideals and find inspiration from his life. He had more work to do, he was not done, life was so generous to bring Alan into our lives and so cruel and incomprehensible to take him as it did. His life and his work teach the challenge to compassionately accept what is and who we are while simultaneously striving to grow and evolve toward our highest ideals.
Alan, your guiding life lives as an inspiration for me and the world.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Many people claim to be pioneers in addiction treatment, but few have left a more important legacy than G. Alan Marlatt, professor of psychology at University of Washington, who died of melanoma on March 14, at age 69.
Marlatt, who was also the director of the university's Addictive Behaviors Research Center, was one of the first researchers to understand the importance of relapse in addiction treatment — and, more importantly, to develop and systematically test ways to help prevent an addict's momentary slip from becoming a full-blown relapse. Marlatt recognized that enforcing immediate abstinence often deters substance users from getting or adhering to treatment, and he advanced therapeutic approaches that focus on reducing alcohol- or other drug-related harm, without demanding strict abstinence.
Throughout his life, Marlatt labored to bring empathy and compassion into a field that had historically advocated harsh and coercive techniques that were not effective.
"Alan had an enormous influence on the addictions field that continues beyond his passing," says Reid Hester, director of the research division of Behavior Therapy Associates, a clinical and research psychology program in Albuquerque, and himself a long time leader in addiction research. "His focus on harm reduction lowered the barriers for many to engage in treatment and self-change of their addictive behaviors. He was also warm, empathic and a dear friend to many. For those of us who knew him, he will be sorely missed."
Marlatt also developed techniques to reduce harm associated with college binge-drinking, and his most recent studies had explored the use of mindfulness meditation in recovery from addictions and depression.
His friends, family and colleagues remembered him with great admiration:
"He showed that people with substance abuse problems need to be met 'where they're at, without prescriptions for what recovery 'should' be," says author Anne Fletcher, who worked with Marlatt on her book Sober For Good.
"It is impossible to recount briefly how much Alan has meant to the field of addiction psychology, to addictions treatment and research, and to substance users not in treatment through his advocacy of harm reduction," wrote Fred Rotgers, president of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Division on Addictions, in an email posted to the APA's listserv.
"Alan was a trail-blazing, game-changing researcher, clinician and academic. He was always out on the edge, challenging conventional wisdom in search of what is true about substance misuse and what is most helpful to people struggling with these issues. He was an early researcher examining controlled drinking. He was the person who invented relapse prevention," says Andrew Tatarsky, a New York City psychologist specializing in addictions and a cousin by marriage to Marlatt.
I knew Marlatt through my work writing about and trying to understand my own addiction. When I look back through the stories in which I've quoted him, his kindness and sympathetic nature come through in every sentence. For example, in an article about New Year's resolutions and staying on the wagon, this is what Marlatt said about dealing with relapses:
For starters, don't berate yourself for being weak. Instead, tell yourself, "I made a mistake. What can I do differently next time? How can I learn from this?" says Marlatt. "This happens to almost everybody. It's not just you."In a world so often focused on "treating" addiction with tough love, Marlatt showed through his work and his life that kindness simply works better. R.I.P., Alan: you are already missed.
One of the most common mistakes addicts make is focusing on whether they are strong enough to change rather than on specific methods of coping. "It's like trying to ride a bike," says Marlatt. "You make mistakes and learn, and you don't give up if you don't immediately find your balance." If the bicycle is missing a wheel or is otherwise broken, then it requires fixing — simply willing it to work is not going to help you ride.
Also, says Marlatt, "most people think that if they have urges or cravings, there's something wrong, that you're not supposed to have them." In fact, they are a normal part of habitual behavior. "Notice and accept them."
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/15/appreciation-g-alan-marlatt-brought-compassion-to-addiction-treatment/
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Training: Treating Substance Abuse and Other Risky and Addictive Behaviors An Integrative Harm Reduction Approach
This workshop will introduce Dr. Andrew Tatarsky’s Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) as described in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and will demonstrate how this treatment for substance abuse can be expanded to effectively treat other risky and addictive behaviors.
MARCH 19 2010
Breakfast and Registration: 9:30 A.M
Fee: $75.00 per participant
Fee for TIMH Students: $25.00
Training Institute for Mental Health
Chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York
115 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001-6217
CLICK FOR MORE INFO & TO REGISTER
Sunday, February 6, 2011
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR WEBINAR (PDF)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy II for Substance Using Patients/Clients: Theory, Rationale and Clinical Technique w/ Dr. Tatarsky in Skokie
September 20, 2010
I invite you to join me for a day of exploring the clinical application of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP). Following a well attended first Introductory training on IHRP earlier this year I will be returning to Skokie on October 1, 2020 to give a second follow-up training.
Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy II for Substance Using Patients/Clients: Theory, Rationale and Clinical Technique.
The focus of this training will be therapeutic tasks and their associated skills and strategies. We will be working with a set of Worksheets with exercises for each of the Seven Therapeutic Tasks. Didactic presentation will be augmented by case illustrations, discussion, demonstrations and skill practice. Topics include Overview of IHRP, Awareness/Mindfulness Training, Therapeutic Alliance Skills and Embracing Ambivalence. Just returning from training substance use professionals in China and having recently given trainings in New York City and Appalachian Ohio, I will also share my perspective on adapting IHRP in different institutional and cultural contexts. The training is sponsored by Behavioral Services Center, Skokie, Illinois. Please see the attachéd flyer for a detailed description and registration information.
I hope you can join us.
I look forward to meeting.
Andrew Tatarsky, PhD
The Center for Integrative Psychotherapy for Addiction
303 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1403
New York, NY 10016
Dr. Andrew Tatarsky will give a one-day training on Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy/counseling techniques (IHRP). He will focus on therapeutic tasks, skills and strategies. Topics include Overview of IHRP, Awareness/Mindfulness Training, Therapeutic Alliance Skills and Embracing Ambivalence.
Detailed case illustrations will be shared. Just returning from training substance use professionals in China and having recently given trainings in New York City and Appalachian Ohio, he will also share his perspective on adapting IHRP in different institutional and cultural contexts.
Sponsored by Behavioral Services Center,
October 1st, 2010