Genesis House, which offers residential treatment to men with drug and alcohol problems, has been in business for 35 years. The Biblical name is not a coincidence; Genesis House is owned by Lutheran Social Services, a national organization that provides social services to the aging, disabled, the mentally ill, resettling refugees, struggling parents, the homeless and adopted and foster children, as well as addicts. Lutheran Social Services Wisconsin and Upper Michigan chapter had its start nearly a century ago in Wittenberg, and now operates three residential substance abuse programs; Genesis House, Affinity House and the Fahrman Center.
Accommodations and Food
For those not familiar with the ins and outs of Southern Wisconsin, Waukesha is less than 20 miles west of Milwaukee, and about an hour east of Madison. Genesis House itself is in a residential neighborhood of Waukesha County, which is walking distance from restaurants and shops. The house is an average sized suburban home with six bedrooms and bathrooms and 12 beds. On the main floor, there’s a big living room with a TV, playing cards and board games for clients to use during down time in the evenings and on weekends. There are free weights for clients to use in the basement and a basketball hoop outside. Across the street is a local park where clients can play Frisbee or softball.
Genesis House clients eat dinner together every night at 5:30 pm. Residents are responsible for preparing the house dinner on a rotating basis. Breakfast, lunch and snack foods are all available in the kitchen for clients to prepare themselves. Clients are always responsible for clearing their own place and food and drink are not allowed in bedrooms.
Treatment and Staff
Clients at Genesis House may be in different stages of their sobriety. For example, some clients come with days or hours of sobriety for the 21-day intensive inpatient program, while others arrive with weeks or months of sobriety, potentially having completed an inpatient program elsewhere, to use Genesis House as a transitional living space. This is not a medical facility, so there are no detox services and they do not specialize in treating co-occurring disorders.
In the 21-day addiction program, clients focus on their recovery for 12 hours a day, attending group therapy and counseling sessions between 8 am and 8 pm. Clients at Genesis House also have an experiential group where they role play past trauma to reprocess it. Other experiential groups include music and art therapy. Some groups are focused on recovery education while others are discussion-based, focusing on topics like spirituality, relapse prevention and family dynamics groups. Clients are required to attend five community 12-step meetings a week, to get a sponsor and to start working the steps.
Genesis House tracks the progress of its clients by two scoring instruments: an Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) and a Session Rating Scale (SRS). Clients participate in assessing their ORS score. Every Monday morning, an ORS group meets where clients discuss how they feel the circumstances of their life are going, overall. Every Thursday morning, the treatment team assigns each client an SRS rating, a score that measures how effective a client’s treatment plan has been. The outcome of these scores is not punitive; rather, if a client has a low SRS and a low ORS score, that might suggest to his treatment team that by tweaking his therapy or structure of his week.
The Genesis House counselors are all licensed. There are three primary counselors, so the staff-to-client ratio is about one-to-four. Clients are assigned one primary counselor who they meet with on an individual basis, often more than once a week.
As mentioned above, Genesis House clients have on-site access to free weights and games, participate in art and music therapy, go hiking, play baseball, have picnics, see movies and go bowling in town.
Once a month, Genesis House holds a family program off-site for clients in the 21-day program. Clients are expected to attend and invite their families. The program comes at no extra cost. As aftercare, Genesis House graduates are invited to attend an ongoing recovery meeting with fellow alumnae at no extra cost.
After the 21-day program, many stay on, moving into the transitional living phase of treatment. The average stay in this phase of treatment is three months. Clients in this stage still follow house rules, continue with some therapy and benefit from the structure of sober living, but the focus is on finding gainful employment. Residents are expected to find a job within the first four weeks of looking. Genesis staff members help to compose and edit resumes, fill out applications and find employment resources.
Addicts in recovery do a lot of “re-parenting,” teaching and caring for themselves in ways that perhaps primary caregivers did not. Genesis House sets up its clients to do just this, making them accountable for a set number of 12-step meetings, finding a sponsor and even just requiring them to clear their own places at the table—all meant to hammer home the message of personal responsibility. Genesis goes a step further by expecting clients to participate in scoring their own progress. This takes a markedly different tone than some treatment centers, in which clients are only assessed behind closed doors. For the clients at Genesis House, this could be a place to start over and a place to grow up.
1002 Motor Ave
Waukesha, WI 53188
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