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Introducing a holistic model for men's treatment

March 4, 2013
by Dan Griffin
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For the past three years, I and Rick Dauer, co-author of Helping Men Recover and my training partner, have been speaking with clinicians and administrators across the country. We have been sharing our thoughts about improving men’s treatment and we have been listening to a wide variety of organizations talk about their struggles, successes, and innovations. A number of themes have emerged from these dialogues and we will be sharing some of these with you over the next year, as well as inviting some guest bloggers to contribute to this long overdue inquiry.

It is our intention to submit a blog entry each month, focusing on a clinical strategy that has shown promise in helping men engage in treatment and truly get excited about recovery. We hope that these entries will stimulate conversation and that you will take advantage of the opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences.

Our first principle for improving services is that each organization should have a clearly articulated theoretical framework that drives treatment activities and interventions. All too often, treatment programs are designed and developed primarily with regard for the preferences and skill sets of the individual staff.

As staffs are assembled into a team and subsequently as staffing changes occur, the result is frequently a patchwork of therapeutic styles and interventions that are not coherent or mutually reinforcing. We have visited facilities where clients are actually (and inadvertently) exposed to contradictory premises as they move through their treatment episode.

The fear that many people have is that they will get stuck having to adhere to a theory that prevents them from being innovative or able to individualize the services. At facilities where there is a clearly defined theoretical model, this is actually less likely to happen.

Inspired by the work that Stephanie Covington, PhD, contributed to improving women’s treatment, we have developed a model called Men’s Integrated Treatment. This model is holistic, integrated, and based on gender-responsive principles—meaning that it is trauma-informed, strengths-based, and includes the principles of relational-cultural theory.

It combines a theory of addiction, a theory of trauma, and a theory of male psychosocial development. These three theories are woven together in a way that each reinforces, illuminates, and enhances the others. The result is an overarching set of principles, grounded in best practices, that guide each man’s journey through the treatment experience. Future blog entries will describe and discuss many of the specific strategies that are essential components of Men’s Integrated Treatment.

We recognize that there are a number of theoretical models that have demonstrated efficacy with male clients. However, we are not aware of any models that have been developed specifically for men with men’s unique issues and needs as the core inspiration. We are not suggesting that Men’s Integrated Treatment is going to be the most effective paradigm for every facility working with every client population; however, we have seen this model implemented in a wide variety of settings, across varied demographics, with unusual success.

Our primary emphasis is that each facility should have a theoretical model that is appropriate to the setting, the client base, the staff, the available resources, and the values of the community.

What do you think?


Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin, MA, is an internationally recognized author and thought leader on...

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