Connection is the key and with it, expert interventionist and licensed counsellor, Heather Hayes, is able to lift the lid on women’s issues. With 35 years of working with women in the addictions and mental health field, Heather is able to offer invaluable insight for clinicians, case managers, coaches and interventionists working with women.

The first mention of a ‘sex-selective disorder’ dates back to ancient Egypt. It was here that the stigma towards women and their specific issues was created. Today women are statistically more affected than men by mental health and substance abuse issues, yet rarely do we address this.

Women face unique challenges regarding their physical and mental health that must be recognised and explored by mental health professionals. Such challenges include women’s exposure to violence, culturally supported roles for women in traditional settings, and mental health concerns across the life cycle. Women are unlikely to seek treatment for fear of losing their children. They are also unfulfilled by the modern day models of development which advocate individualism and independence. Women thrive through connection, therefore the way we need to help women recover needs to be through a connective model.

This presentation will explore the cultural and psychological dynamics that influence the treatment of women in behavioural health settings, including intervention and case management best practices.

Heather will outline a specific framework for the treatment of women, which will draw upon relational, non-pathologising treatment models which will help women, not only recover but also thrive.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will demonstrate an understanding of the history of addiction and mental health for women and ways in which if impact womens' ability to receive access to care.
2. Participants will demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical framework in which to work with women that emphasises connection, not separation, as the guiding principle in working with women and girls.
3. Participants will be able to identify gender-responsive interventions to promote a definition of recovery that focuses not on what is eliminated or removed from a woman’s life but on what is being added to her life.

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