Before going into some of the specific topic areas for men’s treatment I want to briefly discuss the model that we used to create the framework for improving men’s treatment. The model comes from Dr. Stephanie Covington and the incredible work she has done over the past three decades looking at treatment services for women. Essentially, this is a model that integrates three theories – the theory of addiction, the theory of male psychosocial development, and the theory of trauma. I have been alluding to these theories in the past several blogs and now I want to paint a broad overview of what we are advocating.
Theory of Addiction: The definition that Dr. Covington uses to describe addiction is “a chronic neglect of self in favor of something or someone else.” The model of addiction that is used is also comprehensive, comprised of seven areas: Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioral, Spiritual, Environmental, and Sociopolitical. We believe all seven areas are necessary and any approach to addiction treatment that leaves any of these out is incomplete.
Theory of Male Psychosocial Development: The most important point about understanding the foundation of our theory of male psychosocial development is that it is rooted in a feminist paradigm. That means while exploring traditional psychological impacts we also believe that we have to look at how male psychological development and socialization is fundamentally at odds with how girls and women are raised and viewed in our society. We also added one component. Of course, all addiction treatment deals with a man’s relationships; however, we believe unequivocally that relationships and men learning how to function in their relationships is central to their recovery.
Theory of Trauma: The breakthroughs we are having in the area of trauma are nothing short of amazing. Similar to alcoholism, we used to think of trauma only in its most extreme forms (veterans of combat). The focus on the traumatic effects of sexual abuse and domestic violence that women have rightfully demanded for the past three decades have led us to a much greater understanding of the continuum of trauma and the experience and impact of that trauma. As a result, we are finally beginning to see the complex relationship between childhood trauma, addiction, and violence for men. It is leading us to question not only our approach to how we work with these men but also how we view their behavior, particularly the behavior of our most “oppositional” clients.
The next three blog entries will provide a more detailed overview of each of these theories.