This past month, with great love and excitement, Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic welcomed a new baby at its Demeter House program. One of our clients recently gave birth to the child while in treatment, and we could not be more thrilled about this extraordinary and joyful event.
Demeter House is a unique and innovative program providing substance abuse treatment to adult women, mothers with children, and pregnant women in a setting that is comfortable and feels like home. The services at Demeter House are provided within a modified therapeutic structure that offers a milieu for clients to practice positive behaviors and support each other as they progress though treatment. The program provides structured daily counseling and addiction education groups and also provides services designed to meet the needs of women and mothers, such as Women’s Issues Group, Parenting Group, and Seeking Safety, a group designed to help individuals suffering from both addiction and trauma.
Clients at Demeter House follow a full schedule of treatment services each week, including counseling groups, addiction education lectures, individual counseling, life skills and health groups, recreational activities, mother/child activities, family visitation, and self-help meetings.
Therapeutic recreational and social activities are used to promote participation in the community and increase self-esteem through positive involvement with others. For example, Demeter House organizes baby showers for pregnant clients, go on outings with or without their children, and participate in a weekly Art Therapy class. While mothers are in treatment, children go to school off-site or are cared for on-site by childcare professionals. During their stay at Demeter House, mothers receive informal and formal instruction from the childcare specialist to develop their parenting skills, and they learn those very crucial life skills to achieve a sober living, and a medical and psychological well-being.
Having their children in the program allows for mother/child attachments to continue and helps motivate mothers toward recovery. It also helps women providing for safety of their children. Lack of provision for their children may in fact be a big obstacle for women entering treatment as they may often have to choose between seeking or completing treatment, or caring for their children. This is why at Demeter House we allow mothers to bring their children to treatment.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote on his book, The Idiot, “The soul is healed by being with children”. We could not agree more.