Gender Matters in Treatment Services: Dr. Covington’s Maine Visit

Dr. Stephanie Covington, a nationally recognized clinician, author, organizational consultant and lecturer, visited Maine on Tuesday, September 13. She spent the day at the Black Point Inn in Scarborough as a guest of Crossroads for Women.

In the morning, Dr. Covington gave the keynote talk “Why Gender Matters: Creating Services for Women and Men” to an audience of treatment providers and other healthcare professionals. In the afternoon, Dr. Covington presented the workshop “Helping Men Recover: A Program for Treating Addiction” to Crossroads for Women’s clinical staff.

In her keynote, Dr. Covington talked of the importance of having a gender-responsive environment in treatment. Providers should think of things like where their site is located, how safe it feels, what kind of programs are being developed and if they reflect an understanding of the realities of the lives of clients. Some guiding principles for gender-responsive services would include gender, environment, relationships, integrated services, economic and social status, and community.

In addition, Dr. Covington noted how providers must also be trauma-informed in their practices, particularly because past trauma is so common in women. Service providers should take the trauma into account, avoid triggering trauma reactions, adjust the behavior of counselors and staff to support an individual’s ability to cope and allow trauma survivors to manage their trauma symptoms successfully.

In the afternoon, Dr. Covington helped Crossroads’ clinical staff increase its knowledge and skill working with men using a gender-responsive approach. Men and women have key issues in recovery, including self, relationships, sexuality and spirituality. It’s important to note the difference in the ways men and women deal with these issues.

In the end, Dr. Covington’s visit validated a lot of what Crossroads is already doing at its outpatient and residential facilities. It was a pleasure to have Dr. Covington in Maine!