Trauma-Informed Treatment for Men
So many men in recovery – even those in long-term recovery – are relapsing, losing marriages, disconnecting from others and their Twelve Step communities, abusing loved ones, and acting out in other ways because they are still caught up in anxiety, anger, rage, and depression as a result of untreated Trauma.”
Dan Griffith, MA
“A New Focus on Men’s Trauma” was the topic of the luncheon/workshop presented by Dan Griffith author of A Man’s Way Through the Twelve Steps, the first trauma-informed book taking a holistic look at men’s experience of recovery from addictions. I had the pleasure of participating in the workshop with Jackie Wheeler, Senior Solutions counselor, who was also part of the inaugural Males, Trauma, and Addiction Summit which developed The Eight Agreements concerning men and trauma.
Dan’s extensive research is bringing to light the often unrecognized and undiagnosed trauma that up to 95% of men entering treatment for Addiction have experienced during their lifetime. Most men are reluctant to acknowledge, much less talk about, the emotional and verbal abuse or the physical violence they experienced and the underlying pain and suffering. Our culture and how we socialize boys and men contribute to the confusion about manliness and how we express feelings and power. The Man Rules dictate that men; don’t cry, shouldn’t express feelings except anger, show weakness or vulnerability, and should be dominant and in control. All of these traits are inherently contradictory with the Twelve steps and how we expect men to show up in Recovery. Dan maintains that this disconnect asks men to turn their backs on their identity and who they fundamentally believe they are. This can create an unsafe place where many men will either shut down or act out, thereby diminishing their chances for long term recovery. Treatment centers and care providers need to embrace gender responsive, trauma informed curriculum to adequately address the impact of abuse and trauma that is so strongly linked with addiction and the life of the male addict.
Mr. Griffin is explicit in his advocacy for creating gender awareness for men in recovery. The difference in relational needs, how men exhibit symptoms of and heal from trauma, and the impact of male socialization require that the interventions and treatment services we provide be gender specific. Two essential elements for male trauma treatment models are compassion and non-judgement and should serve as guiding principles.
Because we cannot just change what men think, we have to change what we think about men.” Dan Griffin