Intro to Harm Reduction

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In this session, presenters will provide an introduction to harm reduction practice as it applies to individuals engaged in all types of high risk behaviors. Attendees will explore the relationship between risk and trauma, the inherent dangers of shame and isolation, and the impact of stigma on vulnerable populations. Presenters will assist attendees in understanding their own experiences of harm reduction in daily life, and the importance of promoting safety and bodily autonomy as harm reduction’s primary goals. Attendees will explore the outcomes of harm reduction practice, connect their passion for the helping profession with the responsibility to center clients’ self-identified goals, and walk away from this session with a greater understanding of key harm reduction principles as practical and effective clinical solutions.


12:45-1:00 PM  | Virtual training room opens
1:00-1:10 PM    | Welcome, introductions, & check-in activity
1:10-1:40 PM    | Unpacking stigma and its impact on vulnerable communities
1:40-2:05 PM    | The harm reduction philosophy
2:05-2:10 PM    | Break
2:10-2:40 PM    | Harm reduction principles; Goals, limitations, and outcomes
2:40-3:00 PM    | Harm reduction intervention strategies
3:00-3:15 PM    | Review, Q&A

Learning objectives
When attendees return to the workplace, they will be able to:

  • Define stigma and explain its impact on people who use drugs or engage in other risky behavior
  • Identify at least two ways you engage in daily harm reduction practice
  • Recognize safety and bodily autonomy as the primary goals of harm reduction

Target Audience: Social service providers and helping professionals with direct client contact, clinical supervisors, agency administrators, and policy-makers.
Social Work Practice Level: This course is appropriate for beginner and intermediate BSW/MSW learners.
Course Delivery Format: Live webinar
Interactivity: This course will offer real-time polling, group discussion prompts, and 15 minutes of Q&A time.
Social Work Continuing Education Credit: 2 CE Credits*
Fees: $20 general registration; additional $5 for registration with social work CE credit

Registration includes access to the live event and recording, PDF of slides, and relevant training tip sheets/resources.

Session Facilitators:

Ryan Villagran, MSW, LSW (they/them), joined Housing First University in June 2021 as a Training Specialist. Ryan holds a Master of Social Work from Temple University with a concentration in Communities & Policy. Their clinical background includes delivering psychiatric rehabilitation services in the mental health recovery model at a Community Integrated Recovery Center. Ryan also developed and coordinated a training program in a university setting for social workers serving transitional-aged youth and later taught a Human Behavior in the Social Environment course for graduate social work students. Ryan believes in the power of our collective imagination to dream of a better future centered around those on the margins.

Andrew Spiers, MSS, LSW (he/him), is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for Pathways to Housing PA’s Housing First University. Andrew joined Pathways in early 2018 and served as an Assistant Team Leader and Team Leader before launching Housing First University in October 2019. Andrew holds a Master of Social Service from Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, where he concentrated in Community Practice, Policy, & Advocacy. He has taught Human Services and Sociology courses as an adjunct professor at Harcum College and conducted trainings and workshops all over the country on Housing First, harm reduction, and affirming care for LGBTQ+ communities.

ACE approval statement: Housing First University: a program of Pathways to Housing PA, provider #1759, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 01/12/2022 - 01/12/2025. Social workers completing this course receive 2 clinical continuing education credits.

*Housing First University, a program of Pathways to Housing PA, can provide continuing education credits to licensed social workers in 48 of the 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. Due to current regulations, CE credits cannot be offered to social workers in the states of New Jersey or New York. If you are not a Licensed Social Worker, please check with your board of accreditation to ensure this training meets your licensing needs.


To request an accessibility accommodation, please email:

For questions or comments, please contact: 
Andrew Spiers, LSW 
Continuing Education Director 
Housing First University, a program of Pathways to Housing PA (215) 390-1500, ext. 1708