By Jessica Schmoll, MS, LPC
When it comes to treating a chemically dependent woman, it is helpful to first consider creating a healthy, safe community in which she can explore a genuine sense of love and belonging, as well as practice new relationship and self-care skills. In order to create that space, she and her treatment family (staff and peers) are encouraged to embrace authenticity as a cornerstone on which to build.
Authenticity requires emotional honesty, vulnerability, perseverance, empathy and compassion toward self and others. It is no small feat. As the woman lets go of who she “should” be and allows herself to be seen for who she really is, she is more able to accept her strengths and imperfections, and practice boundary-setting by asking for what she needs—and has always deserved. No longer isolated and ashamed, she has a voice; she is known. Negative core beliefs can be explored and no longer dictate using behavior. She doesn’t regulate herself to meet outside expectations. She can be free.
Gender-specific and separate treatment allows addicted women to tell their stories, practice forgiveness for self and others, and honor their evolving faith without the distraction of trying to fit in by being someone they are not. Even when the therapeutic community is unsteady and in turmoil, community members can experience healthy conflict resolution rather than alienation and heartbreak. Using effective communication, the community model allows for women to hold each other up in gratitude and respect, and learn that they are strong enough to withstand the urge to use despite the stress of being in relationships that are complex and sometimes messy. They can resist falling back into old behaviors by acquiring a new sense of self that allows for life to be hard.
These are the skills that prepare women to integrate back into life post-treatment and carry on with relationships that will demand their energy and attention.
They say the journey of recovery is a “WE” program. At MARR’s Women’s Recovery Center, this philosophy is held to the highest standard. A “sisterhood” is created and nurtured, allowing the individual to flourish like never before.