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Say Hello to Admissions Director Liz Winchell

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Say Hello to Admissions Director Liz Winchell

Liz is our new Admissions Director for the Malibu Beach Recovery Center for Women: The Brentwood House

In this post, we welcome Liz as Admissions Director to The Brentwood House. Liz has been a fulltime Admissions Director since June. Actually, Liz is admissions director of all MBRC sites, including houses at Corral, Brentwood, Latigo and the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program).

I introduced Liz on the MBRC blog.

Q. I’ve posted on the MBRC blog in the past about the importance of having a separate treatment center for women. Here’s one example. What’s one thing that you can add?

A. What makes a women’s center unique is the interpersonal relationships among the women.

Q. How so?

A. The relationships may be a huge factor in healing — the friendships and the conflict, for example. Women will settle into traditional family roles, much more so than men. They’ll intuitively take on their family of origin role and assign other family roles to other women in the center whether there are similarities or not, with such thinking as, “Oh, you’re the alliance with my mother,” or “you’re the sibling with whom I have rivalry.” They also form alliances and cliques.

It becomes a reparative experience of the family of origin experience. For example, you may be acting out the relationship with another woman the way you did with your mother, but through therapy and group process you begin to look at each other as individuals, and by doing that, you can look at your mother not in a mother-daughter trauma bond, but as a person. In addition, you can begin to act in a different way with an older, authoritative person. And now you don’t have to revert to that adolescent, “cool” behavior, you can actually interact with the person as another woman.

Q. That’s interesting. What else have you found?

A. Women have a need to bond. All the years I’ve worked in recovery, I’ve heard many of them say they don’t like or trust women. Very gently, a counselor can hold up a mirror and say, “But you are a woman. What does that say about you? When you ask, “What don’t you like about women, they say, “They’re deceptive. They’re not trustworthy.” Again you can ask, “So where does that leave you?” And eventually they come around and see the problem with what they’re saying.

Women want closeness. They seek it. If they’ve suffered from addiction, they have special issues. By its nature, addition is isolating and makes you competitive, and sometimes results in women putting their sexuality out there as a commodity. If that’s the case, then you perceive women as a threat. You’re never safe because there’s always going to be someone who challenges you. Women are fascinating to work with. As I’ve said before, you can’t just treat someone’s addiction, you have to treat the whole person and hear what the underlying issues are.

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