Category: 2011
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Spectrum Health Systems held its 3rd Women’s Treatment Conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, Massachusetts, May 5-6, 2011. More than 200 government officials, treatment providers, advocates and individuals in recovery joined national experts in women’s treatment for the two-day conference, which tackled a complex and demanding topic in women’s health—“Breaking the Cycle of Co-occurring Disorders in Women.”

The conference opened with two trained consumer speakers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts sharing their powerful personal experience with mental illness and recovery.

Renowned author and trainer Claudia Black, Ph.D. talked about her own experience growing up in a family affected by addiction and the stigma that feeds the intergenerational cycle of addiction. “Learning to let go of the shame that keeps many women from accepting themselves is paramount to having hope for the future,” spoke Dr. Black.

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The primary role of family and peer relationships in addressing the cycle of co-occurring disorders in women was addressed in keynotes by social psychologist Mary Jane Alexander, Ph.D. of the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and New York University and Norma Finkelstein, Ph.D., founder and executive director of the Institute for Health and Recovery in Massachusetts. According to Dr. Finkelstein, “Women with co-occurring disorders have numerous, interwoven concerns. Treatment professionals must be prepared to meet women where they are in their recovery.”

Two panel discussions highlighted strategic policy initiatives focused on breaking the cycle of incarceration and developing sustainable community-based programs. Panelist Carole Dwyer, warden of the Women’s Division and Men’s Minimum Security prison at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, cited “the perfect storm” of grant funding that advanced a number of gender-responsive initiatives including a trauma-informed training for uniformed and non-uniformed staff and a gender-informed classification assessment tool.

In all, fourteen workshops highlighting best practices for working with women with co-occurring disorders were available to conference attendees. Presentations and other conference material are available here for those who are interested.

Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. is a private, nonprofit substance abuse treatment and mental health service organization with corporate headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts. Spectrum currently operates more than 110 treatment programs in community and institutional settings throughout Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, Iowa and Washington State.

Andrew Strecker, Development Associate 
(508) 792-5400 x7113

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