When Lakeview Health in Jacksonville, Fla., opens its new Women's Center in early June, it will complete a full transition to offering gender-separate clinical services to women and men. Lakeview's clinical director tells Addiction Professional that she believes the move will allow staff to explore issues on a deeper level with patients, while eliminating some of the typical distractions inherent in mixed-gender programs.
Asked if she sees any potential disadvantages to shifting completely to a gender-responsive model, Amanda Jack says, “I can't think of anything yet.”
The residential treatment facility has been gradually transitioning to a gender-separate program structure, already offering some gender-specific services to its patients. Facility-wide training of staff in the new model began in earnest in January. Stephanie Covington's Helping Women Recover and Helping Men Recover curricula are forming the basis for the approach Lakeview is taking.
“Staff is extremely enthusiastic,” says Jack. “This is something that staff realizes will benefit patients. They've been wanting this for a long time.”
Moving completely to gender-responsive care will result in changes to the entire program structure at Lakeview, Jack explains. Instead of one primary process group lasting more than two hours each day, there will be three groups scheduled over the course of the day, allowing for more specialization on topics such as spirituality, sexuality, anger management and relapse prevention, she says. “We can focus more on what they're interested in working on,” she says of patients.
The sessions will take place without the distractions and other barriers that a mixed-gender environment brings. In the typical scenario, “You'll see a lot of 'pairing,' with people starting relationships while in treatment,” Jack says. Moreover, “Patients may not always feel the deepest level of safety in a mixed group. They may not feel safe talking about sexual trauma in a mixed group.”
Once the transition is complete, separate daily meetings of the entire male and entire female population will take place in the mornings, taking an inventory of the day's events to come.
Building on values
Jack believes the transition will reinforce program values of encouraging honest communication, establishing respect and trust for self and others, and ensuring individual and group accountability. She adds that in the planning process, she examined numerous coed and gender-specific treatment models used by facilities elsewhere.
“We're looking to create a holistic, safe place that is gender-responsive,” she says, “so we can explore issues on a deeper level with patients.”
June 9 is the scheduled opening date for Lakeview's Women's Center, a 54-bed, 35,600-square-foot facility where women will reside and also receive their medical and therapeutic care.