Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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St. Joseph's Care Group

St. Joseph's Care Group


Adult Addiction Programs

Specialized Treatment for Men

Programs for Men at the Sister Margaret Smith Centre are specifically designed to meet the needs of men who want to examine their substance use or gambling behaviour. We do this by offering men's only groups, a separate residential floor and an approach to programming that pays attention to the different ways that men learn and process information. Specialized groups are designed to give men the tools they need to make positive changes in their lives.

At the dawn of a new era of understanding addictions, the programs of the Services for Men at Sister Margaret Smith Centre offers a meaningful and challenging experience of change. While recognizing the unique needs of men, an experienced and dynamic multi-disciplinary team guides and supports each person through a process of discovery. This remarkable journey is tempered at each step by respect affording men a safe place to begin the healing process while also providing the necessary tools for lasting change.

What type of programs are offered?

Understanding well the complexity of the human condition as it relates to recovery from addictions, the Men's Treatment Team has adopted an all encompassing approach to care. The aim of this holistic model of treatment is to improve the overall quality of life for the participants resulting in an increased capacity for change. Elements of this approach would include: social, physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological wellbeing. This method of care not only prepares the men of our programs to deal with their concerns of yesterday but strengthens them for the challenges of tomorrow.

In the company of other men, they will travel a continuum of care. The Sister Margaret Smith Centre recognizes that treatment does not begin nor end with residential treatment. Consequently, our approach often begins long before someone arrives and continues long after graduation day from the men's residential program. This full spectrum of services offered along this continuum can include: pre-treatment, individual community based appointments, residential and continuing care programs.

Further, this approach does not support the position that one size fits all; therefore, each man making the journey is given individual consideration during all parts of the process. This reflects the flexibility of both the programming and the staff members who work to assist each person to succeed in their often life and death struggle with addiction.

Components of the treatment programs may include:

  • Psycho-educational / skill development
  • Experiential
  • Grief work
  • Relaxation and stress management
  • Spiritual exploration
  • Intro to 12-steps
  • Recreation and leisure education
  • Internal Family Systems exploration
  • Trauma Work
  • Relapse prevention
  • Treatment and Discharge planning
  • Values & beliefs clarification

Men's Intensive Residential Program

Living on site at the Sister Margaret Smith Centre, men usually spend up to 24 days with us as they work towards their goals. The facilities include private bedrooms, TV and movie area, exercise/workout areas, Sacred Space for meditation/spirituality or smudging and a group room. In addition, every effort is made to ensure the wellbeing of each client in our secure and professionally staffed facility.

The program is designed to ease participants into discovering who they are, understanding their addiction and identifying their challenges while learning and practicing new skills. The therapeutic setting affords group members the opportunity to safely explore new ideas and practice newly gained skills. As the focus becomes more intense, participants are encouraged to develop a deeper knowledge of the struggles that have brought them to this place so they may move ahead with positive changes. Throughout this journey clients are well prepared and supported, only venturing on when they are ready to. In the final week, planning, decisions, and other activities centre on transferring skills in preparation for leaving treatment. The diagram below offers a general understanding of the complete process.

In an effort to be inclusive, programming is designed to offer a variety of learning styles to suit the needs of the adult learner. This approach incorporates methods with include experiential, verbal and non verbal expression of emotions and thoughts, through story telling, exercises and hands on group experience. In addition, mutual support programs such as NA, GA, AA, Healing Circles and Continuing Care are introduced to participants and they are encouraged to develop support systems that fit their particular needs.

Likewise, the socialization of addictions such as drinking "rites of passage" and role of peers in the early development of the problem are uncovered. Also, the men are encouraged to look at the complexity of their lives, past and present while being assisted in developing constructive ways of both expressing and understanding themselves. This is done through a variety of approaches including, Internal Family System, Solution-focused Brief Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Male Gender Theory and Strength-Based focus.
Equally important, Spirituality is a key component of the Men's Intensive Treatment program. Guided and supported by the Spiritual Advisor of the Sister Margaret Smith Centre, the men are assisted in discovering or in many cases rediscovering their spiritual selves and with that often the God of their understanding. It is during this process that the Spiritual Advisor assists participants to recognize and grieve the many losses in their lives which often can lay at the foundation of their addiction.

The Intensive Residential treatment focuses on developing and practicing healthy coping and lifestyle practices. Receiving instruction from our specialist in Mindfulness and Stress Management, group participants learn to slow down and relax, often for the first time. These skills are enhanced by the SMSC's Yoga instructor who brings the ancient art into the healing process with remarkable results for many of the men, further assisting them on their road to recovery.

This is all brought and held together by a caring and compassionate staff who offer a client-centered, strength-based approach to addiction treatment- people who believe change is possible and work toward that end with all our clients. "This Journey can be about finding your "best self"... the strong, wise & caring man that has always existed but the addiction concealed."

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling sessions are offered for men which can help to prepare them for more intensive treatment, reinforce changes already begun or focus on specific issues related to their substance abuse. This can include motivational enhancement, moderation management, increase readiness for change, coping with grief and loss related to recovery, developing safety plans related to trauma, examining role of substance abuse in family and relationships or developing stress management skills.

Continuing Care

Continuing Care has been designed to provide a supportive environment to clients who have completed a structured addiction treatment program within the past year- either residential or community treatment. It may also be beneficial for someone who is in recovery, but experiencing some difficulties. It would be helpful to have an assessment prior to attending these Programs. Clients are usually in the maintenance stage of change, and are active participants in their recovery.

Live & Learn

The Live & Learn program consists of weekly educational sessions on a variety of topics. Each session is co-ed, and runs once per week, with a different topic each week. Admission is open and ongoing. A wide variety of topics are covered that include:

  • Recreation and Leisure
  • Compulsive behaviours
  • Personal Spirituality
  • High risk activities
  • Relationships
  • Relaxation and Stress Management

The format consists of a large group process that provides an educational component through a lecture. This is followed by a smaller group therapeutic component. The program runs once per week on Thursday evening. The Live & Learn series is open to family members and friends who are interested in participating in sessions, on a drop-in basis, that are of interest to them.

60+ Men's Breakfast Club

The Men's Breakfast Club is a community support group for older adult males (60+) who have or have had substance or gambling issues that may have alienated them from supports and active participation in the community.

The "club" like atmosphere of the group encourages a sense of belonging, encourages maintaining health/wellness and prompts the development of positive and supportive social networks. The group discussions involve information sharing about relapse prevention and/or harm reduction techniques to reduce the negative effects of continued addiction. It is hoped that by reducing isolation and increasing supports, individuals can either maintain abstinence or reduce their addictions to a less harmful level.

Men's Support Group

The Men's Group which meets weekly is designed to offer an opportunity for men in recovery to meet and discuss both the challenges and rewards of recovery. The group approach is inclusive drawing on the lived experience of all members resulting in a powerful learning experience which has proven results. In addition, this approach is tempered by the philosophy: all of us are both teachers and students. This group also supports the position that "no man is an island" particularly when it comes to a healthy recovery.

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Supported by: The North West Local Health Integration Network of Ontario