In 1990, the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus reached the forefront of society and changed our perspectives on gender. Suddenly, we focused on the differences between men and women instead of focusing on how different genders complement one another. While the experience of men differs from that of women, one can accept the fact that struggle is a part of life, and for some, both men and women, that struggle includes addiction to alcohol or other substances.
Addiction does not discriminate between genders. Men and women are both at risk of developing dysfunctional behaviors. Having specialized gender-based group therapies is critical to the growth of the individual and to one’s recovery from mental health conditions. However, having a mixed-gender group might enable participants to better understand themselves and communicate more effectively with all persons in their lives as well as develop more effective and varied coping strategies.
While many facilities focus on providing specific gender resources in treatment, at Enlightened Solutions, we offer a unique treatment program that is co-ed. Our program enables individuals to enhance their communication skills in varied circumstances and safely discuss the effects of their addictive behaviors with others.
Different genders have different methods of communicating. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that women often defer to men in conversations, limiting their own interactions and focusing more on the needs of the other gender. Therefore, gender-specific groups can be helpful to women and men separately but do not always help individuals in communicating beyond treatment.
By combining men and women in one co-ed group and providing proper staff facilitation, women and men can learn how to communicate more effectively with other genders and improve their possibility of success in recovery. Another benefit of co-ed groups is related to the differences in one’s capacity to connect to their own gender. Some men are better able to communicate with women, and some women feel more compatible with men as friends than they do with other women. While having single-sex groups is important to facilitate growth, co-ed groups provide different opportunities for growth for all participants.
There are two different coping patterns: problem-focused and emotion-focused. In an article on sex differences in coping strategies, researchers explain that men are more likely to use problem-focused coping strategies, whereas women are more prone to using emotion-focused coping strategies. With both strategies, one attempts to alleviate distress, but the efficacy of the strategy varies between persons and processes dependent upon the stressor.
The article further explains that women are more prone to apologizing for their behaviors and susceptible to depression and anxiety-related disorders as opposed to their male counterparts. Men are less likely to focus on emotional response, thereby limiting their ability to communicate their feelings and understand the emotions of others.
A benefit of co-ed group therapy is the meshing of coping strategies. Men can learn how to cope with their emotions in a more sustainable manner, and women can more effectively learn problem-focused coping skills. With the combination of genders, there is more opportunity for growth and development of a balanced outlook on life and recovery using different coping skills.
Life after treatment involves reintegration into your family, friend, work, and community life. In traditional single-gender treatment settings, there may be a sense of culture shock as you rejoin the world after treatment. Co-ed treatment, on the other hand, can help ameliorate the risk of culture shock by integrating all genders in treatment and providing you with comprehensive care aimed at helping you succeed in recovery both in and after treatment.
Not only will you be better prepared for life in the real world after treatment with co-ed groups, but you will also be better equipped to communicate with your romantic partner and other family members of another gender. You will have a better comprehension of the differences in communication styles and emotional responses between genders. You will be able to recognize fallacies in your own thinking as you engage with others. You will also be better prepared to help others recognize your needs without the manipulation of others’ coping strategies.
A final benefit of co-ed groups is learning and developing boundaries between yourself and other genders. While in active addiction, you may have forgotten communication styles and how to best support yourself without infringing on the boundaries of others in your life. Your partners and family members have also experienced your addictions. As you navigate co-ed treatment, you will learn the benefits of boundaries between genders and develop an understanding of others’ limitations, which will significantly impact your relationships with others as you reintegrate into your life after treatment. Recovery is possible, but communication, positive coping skills, and definitive boundaries are necessary for your success.
Men and women communicate and cope with stressors differently, which is why co-ed therapy can be so educational and beneficial. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize the value of incorporating co-ed groups in our treatment. We know that all genders can teach others different methods of responding to problems, better enabling you to achieve success in recovery. We know you have the power to overcome addiction. We believe open communication in co-ed groups will help you succeed in recovery after you leave treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you need not feel alone in your struggle any longer. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of programs from inpatient to outpatient, and we want to ensure your success in recovery. We know you have the power to change and we want to help you. Call us at (833) 801-LIVE and ask how we can help.
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