The Women’s Treatment Center in Chicago has a fairly unique history. In 1865, the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children was created, in part, as a place for female doctors to practice medicine. Neither of the two hospitals in Chicago allowed women doctors on staff when Mary Thompson (the first female doctor in Chicago) arrived and one of them didn’t even treat female patients. What was renamed as the Mary Thompson Hospital closed in 1988, then reopened as The Women’s Treatment Center in 1990 in response to a shortage of drug rehabs across Chicago. It now treats 1,200 women and 400 children every year, providing a full spectrum of care and gender-specific programming for women.
Accommodations and Food
There are four residential facilities available through The Women’s Treatment Center. They are all wings within the headquarters, which, from the outside, looks like a large high school. Two of the units provide accommodations for women with children, one of them for 12 women and 12 children (age six or younger) and the other for 14 women and up to 23 children (age five or younger). The other two units can house up to 44 women each. Three meals a day are provided in the cafeteria for residents, staff members and visitors.
Treatment and Staff
In addition to residential treatment, The Women’s Treatment Center provides detox, outpatient treatment and transitional care. Detox usually lasts four to six days, with staff monitoring up to 16 clients 24 hours a day. Clients are taught how to cope with both the physical and emotional side effects of withdrawal. After detox, they are either sent to one of the inpatient residences or outpatient programs. As long as medication is turned over to the staff upon admission, clients with co-occurring disorders are eligible for treatment here as well.
The residential program typically lasts from 30 to 90 days. Treatment adds up to a weekly total of 25 hours of therapeutic services. Recovery at The Women’s Treatment Center is not based specifically on the principles of AA, though meetings and 12-step ideology are a part of the schedule. There are weekly individual therapy sessions and daily specialty group sessions built around topics like trauma recovery, life skills, goal setting and job searching. Women are prepped for reentry into the community from the moment they start treatment, not necessarily just at the end.
Family programming is a huge part of the treatment model at The Women’s Treatment Center. Women are taught parenting skills and their interaction with their children is monitored and counseled. Clients undergo group and individual counseling focused on developing healthy parent-child dynamics and understanding children’s behavior. Pregnant women and women with newborns are guided through the process of caring for infants. Professional day care services and pre-kindergarten classes are available on-site while mothers are in treatment.
There are three outpatient offerings: Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Project Futures and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The IOP is 12 hours of treatment weekly and is primarily based around group counseling on myriad topics beyond addiction, such as money management, job preparation and parenting. Project Futures is specifically for mothers at risk of losing custody of their children due to deviant behavior and documented drug and alcohol abuse. The MAT is set up for women using medication for opiate withdrawal; group therapy is specifically geared toward opiate addiction.
The staff consists of substance abuse counselors as well as medical and mental health professionals including nurses, doctors, Master’s-level therapists and psychiatrists. A physician who also serves as the medical director manages the detox unit.
The Recovery Home for transitional living is part of The Women’s Treatment Center’s aftercare support. A client can live here after completing residential treatment with up to three of her children under the age of five. Outpatient treatment, job training and job searching are included in this supportive environment, where women graduate through levels of recovery to earn increased levels of responsibility and freedom.
It’s not surprising that an active alumni association has sprung up around The Women’s Treatment Center. The association’s mission is to foster relationships between graduates and current clients and to give alumni the chance to give back through fellowship, involvement and sharing the message of hope and recovery.
The Women’s Treatment Center has been a pioneer for addiction services in the state of Illinois. Its willingness to accommodate children is particularly significant given that so many women don’t seek treatment due to an inability to find adequate care for their young children. This facility plays a positive role in the Chicago community and its dedication to helping women be better mothers and citizens is not only necessary, but inspirational.
The Women’s Treatment Center Location
140 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60607
The Women’s Treatment Center Cost
Sliding scale. Reach The Women’s Treatment Center by phone at (312) 850-0050 or by email.
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