Written By: Amanda Jack, M.S., LMHC | Clinical Director at Lakeview Health
Making the decision to enter treatment can be difficult. Change is hard. Learning new ways to live is hard. Giving up habits is hard. There are many treatment environments to choose from and choosing the right treatment environment is crucial for working through all of these challenges. A gender-responsive treatment environment is an excellent choice for many men and women. Here are a few great reasons why:
Gender-responsive treatment centers focus on gender-specific issues and provide a safe environment to process these issues.
Many women struggling with addiction have experienced similar issues such as domestic violence, trauma, poor boundaries, body image issues, disordered eating, parenting issues, a family of origin issues, and other issues that are easier to process and be open and honest about in a group with other women. The same goes for men. Many men struggling with addiction may have experienced some of the same issues above and possibly others such as issues with behavior management, victim or perpetrator of violence, job or career loss, sexuality issues, legal issues, and/or issues related to family roles. Processing these issues specifically related to how they affect men and women provides a powerful treatment experience. Having gender-specific groups to process these and other treatment issues may feel more comfortable and safe to patients. They may feel more freedom to openly express their feelings, thoughts, and issues and share them in the group setting. This is a huge benefit because change only happens when a patient is willing, to be honest, and open in treatment.
Gender-responsive treatment centers promote a focus on the individual treatment experience.
Going through a treatment journey with the opposite sex can provide too many distractions for some patients. Treatment is hard work and it can be easy to lose focus on self and become more focused on someone else to ease the discomfort of working through issues. Many patients that have participated in mixed-gender treatment have fallen prey to a “rehab romance” and have not had the full benefit of their treatment experience due to this. Being exclusive with men or women reduces the risk of this type of distraction. Patients are able to stay focused on their own treatment experience and can learn how to make healthy connections with others to help them cope.
Gender-responsive treatment centers promote healthy relationships with the same gender.
Many men and women struggling with addiction have not experienced healthy same-gender relationships. This can be related to trauma issues, a family of origin issues, boundary issues, or a number of other things. Women often share that they struggle to trust and relate to other women. Men sometimes report difficulty being vulnerable around other men. Gender-specific treatment provides a community to learn to trust others, to communicate in a healthy way, and to build healthy relationships.
Gender-responsive treatment centers are designed to accommodate the interests and needs of men and women.
At Lakeview specifically, special care and consideration were taken into all planning of our gender-responsive treatment programs from the design of our buildings to our programming schedules. The goal of this hard work was to create atmospheres that are inviting and soothing to each gender and to provide programming experiences that are designed to be engaging. There is never a feeling of an institution in either facility due to the care that was taken to create these spaces. Gender-responsive treatment clearly has benefits. Every patient entering treatment should get the most out of their treatment experience as they can to start on their road to recovery. For many patients, choosing a gender- responsive environment will be the best option for taking full advantage of treatment.