Since 1981, Residence XII has been instrumental in the recovery of over 10,000 women by recognizing that addiction’s roots are far deeper than chemical dependence. Our meeting with treatment director Christine Sogn shed some light on how women-only treatment dismantles the psychological walls keeping an addict from her “wise woman” inside.
Though centrally located in Kirkland, Washington, Residence XII is a small facility nestled in its own forested enclave. The surrounding nature is just one healing agent of the facility; inside, you’ll find refreshments, massage and yoga rooms, and a community of women intent on seeing you through to recovery. Residence XII offers a variety of treatment options, including inpatient residency up to thirty days, outpatient intensive care, relapse prevention, and continuing care programs.
The importance of gender-specific treatment has been realized by more facilities in recent years, but not all women are aware of the differences this design could have in their recovery. “When we opened in 1981, we were one of only two women-only programs in the U.S.,” Chris says. “Our small size allows us to really tailor treatment to each woman’s individual needs.”
“Many women remark at how safe they feel at Residence XII.”
Residence XII has dedicated the last 32 years to honing their approach to women’s addiction using the 12-Step model as well as a unique method based on Jungian psychology. This method, referred to as “the Addict and the Wise Woman,” encourages each resident to view her addiction apart from her true essence — an essence that is so easily lost in traumatic experiences like domestic and sexual abuse.
“Many of those who have experienced abuse of any sort are reluctant to open up in mixed gender groups,” Chris says. “Women often feel much more guilt and shame regarding their addiction and are slower to respond to treatment.”
Residence XII attempts to resolve these deep-rooted traumas from a variety of angles. A woman newly admitted to the facility will first build a collage that represents her inner conflict associated with addiction, and this introduces her to “the Addict and the Wise Woman.” One side of the collage represents the undesirable traits tied to her addiction, while the other reflects her sober, more ideal self.
“It’s based on Jung’s archetypal theory of personal psychology,” Chris says. “Essentially, it’s a cognitive technique focused on rational emotive talk and negative self talk.”
Residence XII also focuses on developing ways to combat shame, a driving force behind addiction. “Many women remark at how safe they feel at Residence XII,” Chris says. “There is a lot of stigma around the disease and women feel like failures as mothers, wives, sister, friend, etc.”
Empowering women to speak their minds through an “assertion script” is one of the ways recovery facilitators attempt to remedy their resignation. With an assertion script, women are taught to express their feelings in difficult situations, ultimately building the self-respect they need to overcome addiction.
The need for women to concentrate on themselves and their personal recovery is a key pillar of Residence XII’s program, as mothers in particular tend to pledge themselves to a caretaking role and neglect their own well being in the process.
“Once a mother starts recovery, she lives with the battle of who and what to make a priority in her life,” Chris tells us. “Society also puts a lot of pressure on moms to be ‘super mom.’ In recovery, it is essential that she makes her recovery a priority in order for her to be the best mom she can be – by having a clean and sober life.”
Meditation and yoga are central practices to Residence XII’s recovery program as they promote self-reflection and focus on recovery. According to Christine, there is a spiritual element to these practices that allows women to open themselves up to their recovery in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Even those who do not subscribe to spiritual beliefs and experiences are able to benefit from this routine by becoming more receptive to discussions, counseling, and insights toward recovery throughout the day.
Even with over thirty years of refining gender-specific recovery methods, Residence XII facilitators and staff are always looking at developing research to better address the nuances of addiction. “We are seeing more evidence regarding co-occurring treatment,” Chris says. “It is apparent that offering women education regarding mental health issues helps them to be empowered to work with chemical dependency and mental health issues, instead of trying to pretend it’s one or the other.”
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