Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services was founded in the 1930s in an effort to help women affected by the Great Depression. Originally named Los Angeles Psychiatric Service, it was renamed to honor its long-time benefactor Didi Hirsch in the 1970s. In 1979, it opened Via Avanta, a residential facility in Pacoima, California, just north of Los Angeles.
Via Avanta provides long-term residential treatment and support to women and their dependent children up to age six. Didi Hirsch Mental Health services also provides outpatient treatment, counseling and suicide prevention services throughout Southern California.
Accommodations and Food
Up to 25 women and their children can be accommodated at one time at Via Avanta. Women are housed in a treatment facility with several dorm rooms. Women and their children are designated dorms by compatibility with other residents.
The facility has a communal kitchen and a staff that shops for groceries and prepares meals. Residents are assigned chores which may include food preparation and clean-up. The facility features a TV room, gym and computer room. Clients may not have cell phones or computers, but they can use the house phone to call family and make work-related calls. They may also use the communal house computer for educational and job search activities.
There is an on-site daycare, and in an effort to improve parenting skills and promote a sense of community, residents take turns helping to care for other resident children.
Treatment and Staff
Most residents stay at Via Avanta for six to nine months. There are three phases in the treatment program at Via Avantaj and clients progress from one to the other at their own pace. The first phase, Orientation, lasts for 30 days and asks women to focus on learning how to live in the house community while attending daily group and individual therapy at least once a week. In the second phase, residents continue therapy and education groups and also start to address the life skills deficiencies and mental health issues that may be at the root of their addiction. Phase three asks women to work with their counselors to find employment and make a plan to transition to independent living. In this phase, clients may also apply for passes for overnight visits home.
The on-site treatment team includes MFTs, addiction counselors and a nursing staff. The team is experienced treating co-occurring disorders and works with psychiatrists in the Didi Hirsch outpatient clinics for medication management.
Therapy uses Motivational Interviewing (MI), Seeking Safety and the 12-step framework. Residents are required to get a sponsor and Via Avanta provides transportation to local 12-step meetings and also hosts one on-site each week.
Via Avanta arranges periodic off-site recreational activities such as trips to the beach and movies. It works with The Chrysalis program to help clients find employment and job skills training. For aftercare, it encourages clients to stay with their primary counselor and continue treatment at one of its outpatient facilities.
For over 35 years, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’ Via Avanta residence has been helping addicted women and their young children find stability in recovery. Its long-term residential program requires a serious commitment to therapy and learning new life and job skills. By enabling women to progress through three stages of treatment and stay with their primary counselor after leaving the residence, it helps clients gain confidence while receiving supervision and on-going support.
Didi Hirsch Via Avanta Women’s Residence Location
Didi Hirsch Via Avanta Women’s Residential Cost
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