Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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St. Joseph's Care Group

St. Joseph's Care Group


Adult Addiction Programs

Specialized Treatment for Women

Programs for women at the Sister Margaret Smith Centre are designed to meet the needs of women who want to examine their substance use or gambling behaviour. We do this by offering women's only groups, a separate residential floor and female counsellors. Outreach services are available which include meeting with women where they are most comfortable ie. At their homes or offering groups in community settings. Specialized groups are designed to be flexible and respectful and focus on the unique needs of women as they learn to make positive changes in their lives. Linkages are made with other community resources such as the Eating Disorder Program, Hope Place, June Steeve Lundrum Centre and Community Mental Health Programs.

What type of programs are offered?

They are supported as they explore the issues related to their problematic use of substances i.e. self-esteem, abuse, anger, isolation and to encourage them to develop more effective coping skills to deal with their feelings. Women who are experiencing struggles with substance abuse often feel disempowered and helpless in their lives. It is helpful for them to see that they are not alone and that there is hope for change- as they progress through treatment they begin to see themselves differently and make positive plans for the future. Understanding more about themselves and how the messages they received from family and their community have shaped them allows them to re-shape their image into someone they want to be. This helps to empower the women to take control of their lives in a healthier way.

Components of the treatment programs may include:

  • Education sessions on a variety of topics
  • Living skills training
  • Stress management & mindfulness meditation
  • Spirituality and personal beliefs
  • Relapse prevention strategies and safety planning
  • Leisure skills and recreation- experiential
  • Values & beliefs clarification
  • Internal family systems
  • Relationships and family dynamics
  • Grief and loss exploration
  • Nutrition and healthy eating
  • Mental Health awareness and education

Women's Intensive residential treatment

The residential treatment program provides a safe environment in which women can address their addiction issues with the support of other women. The programs are usually 24 days and each woman has her own room, including sink area. There is a kitchen, lounge and group room area with access to a gym and Craft room. The women's residential area is kept separate from the men and the primary counselors are female. A private area with toys and comfortable seating can be booked to meet with children.

The women's treatment programs are holistic in nature as all aspects of well being are addressed ie physical health, nutrition & body image, spirituality, emotional and psychological health and safety. We recognize that women's lives are often complex and that difficulties with addictions are related to other issues in their lives, i.e. trauma, mental health concerns, family and relationship violence. These co-occurring issues are interwoven throughout the treatment experience, paying attention to the limitations of a short treatment program and sometimes lack of supports when they return home. The women are exposed to a number of different methodologies and are encouraged to actively explore which approaches are most helpful for. This includes cognitive-behavioural material, empowerment and experiential processes which are grounded in a strength-based approach. Mutual support programs such as Women's AA and the Healing Circle are introduced to participants and they are encouraged to develop support systems that fit their individual needs.

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling sessions are offered for women which can help to prepare them for more intensive treatment, reinforce changes already begun or focus on specific issues related to their substance abuse. This can include motivational enhancement, moderation management, increase readiness for change, coping with grief and loss related to recovery, developing safety plans related to trauma, examining role of substance abuse in family and relationships or developing stress management skills.

Community Treatment

The Women's Education and Support Group offers information about alcohol and other drugs, support for changing behaviours and understanding of some of the co-occurring issues associated with women and substance abuse. This is a program offered jointly by Sister Margaret Smith Centre, Our Kids Count and the Dilico Family Preservation Program. It is held at June Steeve Lendrum Court and offers a light supper and childcare. Registration is necessary. Contact Intake for information.

Continuing Care

Continuing Care has been designed to provide a supportive environment to clients who have completed a structured addiction treatment program within the past year- either residential or community treatment. It may also be beneficial for someone who is in recovery, but experiencing some difficulties. It would be helpful to have an assessment prior to attending these Programs. Clients are usually in the maintenance stage of change, and are active participants in their recovery.

Live & Learn

The Live & Learn program consists of weekly educational sessions on a variety of topics. Each session is co-ed, and runs once per week, with a different topic each week. Admission is open and ongoing. A wide variety of topics are covered that include:

  • Recreation and Leisure
  • Compulsive behaviours
  • Personal Spirituality
  • High risk activities
  • Relationships
  • Relaxation and Stress Management

The format consists of a large group process that provides an educational component through a lecture. This is followed by a smaller group therapeutic component. The program runs once per week on Thursday evening. The Live & Learn series is open to family members and friends who are interested in participating in sessions, on a drop-in basis, that are of interest to them.

Women's Support Group

We offer a weekly Women's Support group for those women who are working on maintaining positive changes they have begun. The group happens over noon on Fridays at the JSL Court where lunch and childcare are available. Attendance is open, but participants must contact Intake to register ahead of time. The format includes a facilitated discussion of current interests, crafts, fun activities and support for each other.

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Supported by: The North West Local Health Integration Network of Ontario