The focus of the eight week Women’s Intervention Group is to improve the self-esteem of the women who attend. It is clear that childhood trauma, unhealthy relationships, and victimization cause women to accept being treated in ways that push them further into dysfunction. Their involvement in the criminal justice system is often a symptom of this dysfunction. Each of the group’s eight weekly sessions is designed to offer insight into an area of the participants’ lives which has been overlooked and which may have contributed to low self esteem and substance abuse. This insight may promote an interest in ongoing treatment after the group. It is also designed to help each participant see their unique strengths and capabilities, perhaps for the first time.
The group is for women only. (Additional program information may be found here.) This alone is an opportunity for the participants to gain strength, build trust and look at themselves independent of a partner. The research supports the premise that women are more honest and focused when in gender specific programs.
“In a gender-specific setting, the woman can be more open about her past, her relationships, and her feelings without worrying what the men in the group are thinking. She can also focus on her own needs and on rebuilding her life rather than trying to take the role as caretaker, which seems prevalent in many co-ed treatment programs.” (Stephanie Covington)
Each week’s agenda focuses on a key topic for healthy living. The discussion and activities are designed to reinforce the topic. They offer insight and provide the opportunity to practice life skills that may have been missed. Using Motivational Interviewing techniques and a strengths based perspective, the participants are encouraged to risk trying something new. Homework assignments are given each week as well to help reinforce the theme.
A strengths-based perspective can be explained as follows: “It is a way of perceiving people in their struggles as able to rise above the difficulty. It is working with clients collaboratively to recognize and reinforce their strengths.” (VanWormer and Davis) Ultimately, the goal is to introduce and maybe move the participant from where she is to a more functional and empowered way of living using the strengths she did not realize she possessed.
The agenda is flexible enough to allow the women to voice their issues and concerns. A strengths-based model encourages the women to identify and internalize the power and possibility that they each possess.