Saturday, May 16, 2009

What is "Gender-responsive treatment?"

Hey, this is an issue I've been thinking a lot about lately, since I'm consulting at the moment for a women's treatment program. Really, this particular program has been a therapeutic community that just happens to be segregated by gender, so it's all women. But until now, it hasn't been designed to really be responsive to women's particular needs in treatment. So what IS a good women's program? I'd love to hear from you, especially if you're involved in a program you feel is really "gender-responsive" (either gender). Some of the things I think of about creating an effective women's program include these kinds of ideas:

  • Inspirational and empowering environmental cues (pictures, sayings by women from history through contemporary, etc.)
  • Good leadership among staff, positive role models
  • Staff trained to understand the effects of trauma on so many women, and what this means for treatment... (like hypervigilence to being screamed at, etc.!)
  • Good integration of a mental health component, since many women in residential treatment (at least) have co-occurring mental health concerns like depression, anxiety disorders, etc.
  • Family involvement, support for parenting, etc.

What do you think makes a good women's treatment program? A good men's treatment program? Or do you think coed treatment is best??

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