Gandara Center opened in 1977 with a focus on providing mental health services to the under-served Hispanic population in Springfield, Massachusetts. Since then it has expanded its reach to support individuals suffering from substance abuse, gambling and other process disorders and preventative and educational programs for those in the Pioneer Valley region.
Gandara Center runs an outpatient clinic, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), gender-specific residential programs, youth group homes and educational programs to help promote the security and well being of Hispanics, African-Americans and other minorities in the community.
The inpatient recovery program for women, known as Gandara Residential Services for Women (GRSW), provides structured, long-term support using the Matrix Model for recovery. Language services are available for Spanish speakers as well.
Accommodations and Food
GRSW accommodates 30 women at a time in a charming Victorian house in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The historical home is on a tree-lined street and sits on a large grassy lot, has a wrap-around covered porch and turrets creating a stately curb appeal. Inside, clients enjoy a homey environment despite the high occupancy. Each bedroom sleeps three to four residents in twin-sized beds and shared dressers. Common areas include a spacious traditional living room, a fully-equipped kitchen and a formal dining room.
Clients go grocery shopping once a week and take turns preparing meals for one another. Though no stipend is provided for food, women often pay for house food using state food stamps (which Gandara helps clients apply for).
Treatment and Staff
The recovery program applies the Matrix Model and includes group and individual therapy, relapse prevention, family education and social support using CBT. Clients must submit to regular and random drug testing.
Residents are offered structured living over the course of six months to a year and are required to go to school, find employment or do volunteer work. Clients can begin job searching after their first month in treatment and once employment is secured treatment schedules become more variable. Those with co-occurring disorders are welcome but medication management is not offered on-site.
During their first month in residence, clients are required to follow a fairly simple routine. Everyone wakes up at 6 am for breakfast before their first group meeting at 8 am, during which daily goals are set. After a short break, group and individual sessions continue until lunch at noon. Groups resume in the afternoon as well as educational lectures on the disease of addiction. Dinner is from 4 to 5 pm, after which clients meet with their counselors to do a check-in on their morning goals. There is a mandatory on-site 12-step meeting every evening at 6 pm followed by free time until lights out at 10 pm. Those who demonstrate a strong commitment to recovery during their first 30 days can apply for off-site passes which permit clients to leave the facility without an escort.
Once employed, residents are required to continue attending a minimum of three weekly AA/NA meetings and must be working the steps with a sponsor.
Clients requiring more structure but who cannot commit to a residential track may participate in the IOP that requires daily attendance of three and a half hour group sessions. A 10-week outpatient program is also available that requires clients to attend one hour-long group session per week. Groups in both programs cover topics such as relapse prevention, anger management and coping skills. Individual therapy is scheduled as needed.
Under the Gandara umbrella are two sober living options for adult men with at least six months of sobriety. The Maple House accommodates six clients in two side-by-side units. There are three bedrooms furnished with two twin-sized beds each, a shared common area and communal kitchen. The larger sober home is an eight-bed house that accommodates residents in four double-occupancy bedrooms. Both require men to either be working or attending school. Though 12-step meetings are recommended while at these facilities, they are not required.
For those with gambling disorders there is an outpatient program that lasts six to eight weeks and consists of individual, group and family therapy on a weekly basis offered at Gandara’s main office in West Springfield.
Since its humble beginnings serving a small community, Gandara Center has since grown to serve a broader population of men and women in need of substance abuse and addiction treatment. The female residential services offer a thorough program using the Matrix Model. Treatment is structured, but over time allows clients to develop autonomy and independence. The Gandara residential program is ideal for women in early recovery who need a community and fellowship of support as they begin their recovery journey.
Gandara Center: Residential Services for Women
507 Appleton St
Holyoke, MA 01040
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