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Competency 4: Prevention

Outreach Services

Guiding Principles for Service Delivery

Some of the principles that are essential to working well with women are the same as those in dealing with any client group. Other principles are uniquely important to women. The table reviews key principles that are important in guiding gender-specific services for women. These are derived from the substantial best practice literature that describes the barriers to treatment that women face, the key principles for women’s treatment, and the elements of women-centered care.

Key Principles In Guiding Gender-Specific Services for Women
Guiding Principles for Service Delivery Key Issues
Work from respectful, nonjudgmental service philosophies that ensure safe and compassionate care. Use strength-based, empowerment approaches. Women face barriers in accessing and completing treatment, such as shame and guilt, denial, fear, feelings of powerlessness, and low self-esteem.
Provide responsive and practical help that directly addresses key service barriers. Provide cross-disciplinary care for women. Interpersonal and systemic barriers to service access include fear of losing custody of children, family and child care responsibilities, social and economic circumstances, lack of support from partners, stigma, lack of flexible services, and lack of information about treatment services.
Collaborate with other services to provide a holistic service for women. Many women experience co-occurring health and other problems, including issues related to mental health, violence and sexual abuse, body image, self-esteem, mothering, reproductive health, and sexuality.
Focus on women’s relational needs and supportive connections between women in treatment programming. Building healthy peer and family relationships are important areas for women in recovery.
Provide comprehensive wraparound services for pregnant women, including priority access, service coordination, collaboration, outreach, case management, and advocacy. Pregnant women with substance use problems often face greater barriers in accessing help.
Provide information and education in ways that are accessible and relevant to women. Women have various needs for information and styles of learning.
Deliver prevention initiatives that address the specific health, social, and cultural issues affecting women of all ages and at key life transitions. Prevention strategies must be well targeted to be effective. Social expectations and influences that have an impact on women’s substance use must be considered.

Source: Adapted from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2004. Substance Abuse Treatment and Care for Women: Case Studies and Lessons Learned. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.04.XI.24. Vienna, Austria: UN.

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