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  • Treating High-Functioning Problem Drinkers in Office-Based Psychotherapy Practice: A Clinician’s Toolbox of Moderation, Harm Reduction, and Abstinence Strategies

Treating High-Functioning Problem Drinkers in Office-Based Psychotherapy Practice: A Clinician’s Toolbox of Moderation, Harm Reduction, and Abstinence Strategies

Date & Time

Friday, February 02, 2024, 9:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.


Office of Professional Development and Continuing Education (OPDCE) Live Webinars




Instructor: Arnold Washton, PhD

Instructional Level: Introductory

CE credits for Psychologists (APA)

CE credits for New York Psychologists (NYSED)

3 CE credits for LMFT/MFT and LPC/LAC licensed in New Jersey (see CE information at bottom of page)

Price: $90

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Course Description

Participants attending this skills-training workshop will come away with an enhanced understanding of the spectrum of alcohol use disorders that vary along multiple dimensions, how to meet the special needs of high-functioning clients who want an alternative to traditional abstinence-only treatment programs, and how to utilize a toolbox of evidence-based alcohol moderation, harm reduction, and abstinence strategies they can apply immediately in office-based clinical practice. The use of pharmacological adjuncts to enhance the efficacy of behavioral interventions will also be discussed. 

The integrative client-centered approach described in this workshop advocates a harm reduction perspective that supports incremental change and individualized treatment goals including less risky drinking, moderate drinking, and abstinence—and it views any steps taken to reduce the risks and harm associated with substance use are steps in the right direction, whether or not abstinence is the immediate or ultimate goal. This approach is intuitively appealing and readily adapted for use by psychotherapists from all backgrounds and specialties because it is fundamentally a psychotherapeutic approach founded on the principles and practices of client-centered psychotherapy, including meeting patients “where they are” and working collaboratively with them to empower positive change rather than demand compliance with pre-determined goals. It is also intuitively appealing to high-functioning individuals who are able to maintain their daily responsibilities despite having clinically significant problems with alcohol and/or other drugs and do not want or need a traditional “one size fits all” addiction treatment program that pressures them to accept the identity of “addict” or “alcoholic” and embrace lifelong abstinence as the only legitimate goal.

Participants of this workshop will learn how to help clients take a closer look at their alcohol use, set realistic goals, change their drinking patterns, and acquire a better understanding of the role and meaning of alcohol use in their lives. Lecture material will be brought to life with numerous case examples from the presenter’s practice. Most of the material presented in this workshop is described in the presenter’s most recent book: Washton A.M. and Zweben J.E. (2022) “Treating Alcohol and Drug Problems in Psychotherapy Practice: Doing What Works.” (Guilford Publications).

Learning Objectives

Participants who attend this presentation will be able to:

  1. Explain the theory, empirical support, and rationale for moderation and harm reduction approaches.

  2. Describe how to enhance clients’ motivation to change their drinking habits.

  3. Describe the most effective behavioral self-control strategies that support moderate drinking.

  4. List medications most commonly prescribed to facilitate moderate drinking or abstinence.

Instructor Bio

Arnold M. Washton, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist (NJ Lic No. 3574) and book author specializing in the treatment of substance use and other behavioral health problems since 1975, is Co-Founder of The Washton Group, a private practice in Princeton NJ and New York City. Dr. Washton has served as Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, as director of several nationally recognized inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs, and as consultant to professional sports teams, government agencies, media organizations, and major corporations. He has been a recipient of research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has served as substance abuse advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, special committees of The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and The American Psychological Association. Dr. Washton has authored over 100 journal articles and nine books including "Treating Alcohol and Drug Problems in Psychotherapy Practice: Doing What Works" (Guilford Press) and “Willpower’s Not Enough: Understanding and Recovering From Addictions of Every Kind” (Harper-Collins).

Dr. Washton does not have any commercial support and/or conflict of interest for this program.


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Continuing Education Information

Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0123.

LMFT/MFT and LPC/LAC Licensed in New Jersey: Programs approved by the American Psychological Association are acceptable sources of continuing education credits. Please see, Section: 13:34-15.4 APPROVAL OF COURSES OR PROGRAMS on page 27. For all other professional licenses and certifications, please reference your issuing state board regulations regarding reciprocity of continuing education credits.


Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.