“Exclusively Women” Program Provides Much-Needed Services in Portland, OR

“The shortage of mental health services in Portland is well documented,” notes Mike Sherbun of Cedar Hills Hospital. Now, a new program at that hospital is offering a range of much-needed services to help one portion of the population in particular: women. Named “Exclusively Women,” the program provides a number of different therapy strategies to help women overcome a number of different psychological and behavioral health issues. The program utilizes a number of mental health professionals in conjunction with the hospital’s existing nursing staff to provide whatever course of therapy needed to help each participant. At the program’s core: crisis stabilization.

Most of Exclusively Women’s clients are dealing with issues such as PTSD, spousal abuse, drug or alcohol dependency, anxiety or other obsessive disorders, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, or pregnancy-related depression. Many deal with more than one of these issues simultaneously. The program is designed to meet each woman where she is, utilizing a blend of group therapy, individual therapy, life skills training, and medical treatment when needed. The life skills training has proven particularly helpful for a number of women who participate in the program. One, who spoke on anonymity, noted that she’d “never learned these skills before.” Through the program, the patient learned how to seek safety, deal with feelings of grief and loss, set boundaries, establish positive coping skills, and foster overall mindfulness in her daily life.

Meeting patients where they are is an essential part of any psychological health treatment, whether it is through a therapist, counselor, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or religious guide. Exclusively Women’s clientele—often dealing with multiple issues at one time—illustrates the need for personalized care. It’s not just a person’s immediate mental health issues that determine what sort of therapy will most benefit them. Often, the way different life experiences combine can create different struggles and patterns, and can do so differently depending on an individual’s personality and background.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Les

    August 24th, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    This smacks of sexual discrimination to me, having a “Exclusively Women” project. Don’t men in Portland, Oregon have mental issues too that are in need of professional help from therapists? I hope there’s an “Exclusively Men” group in the pipeline to balance that.

  • harold K

    August 24th, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    it is nice to see that programs are being catered exclusively to women because we often see that women are a neglected lot when it comes to providing health care and also that it can get very difficult if the situation is not tackled early on.

  • Craig H.

    August 24th, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    The day a man presents with symptoms of pregnancy-related depression, they can start one Les LOL. For goodness sake, lighten up! I wouldn’t grudge anyone getting psychological help, male or female. Funding always goes where it’s needed most first and since this program has came about, therapy is obviously needed more by the women of Portland in those areas than the men right now.

  • Hannah

    August 25th, 2010 at 3:51 AM

    come on now, dont get so worked up Les…this exclusive program has been started because the situation with the woman-group is worse than men…it is only to concentrate on a group that has been comparitively neglected thus far.

  • Deanna

    August 25th, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    This is not sexual discrimination- this is merely targeting an audience that has very often been overlooked in the mental health care community and this is one part of the country that is taking a stand against that and recognizing the need to do more for this group of women. I am sure that the men in town here are well served too and would have a difficult time asserting that there are not comparable services and resources available to them too.

  • dion

    August 25th, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    women have often been neglected in health care and many other facilities have better reach to men than women so i feel this is a step in the right direction to try and bridge that gap.

  • Jenna

    August 25th, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Why is it that anytime there is a program like this one which is set up to clearly help women in need it is decried as discrimination, yet there have over the years been programs which have so obviously ignored their health and no one ever says boo about that? Maybe this is just playing catch up to the real needs that are out there but which have sadly been ignored for too long!

  • Jude

    August 25th, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    if a particular problem is more prevalent in women then they deserve exclusive treatment centers to treat them.it is not discrimination and should in fact be lauded.

  • Carl j.

    August 26th, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    I do not want to get involved into this debte whether its good to have an exclusive women’s treatment facility or not but it sure is great to have more and more treatment centers because we are seeking under a shortage of such facility as a nation.

  • Johnna

    August 26th, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    I know that from my own personal experiences women in particular feel more emotionally ready to open up when the services are geared just toward them. I think that sometimes for some women they feel intimidated with men in a way that they know they do not have to feel with other women. It is easier for us to relate to one another and to find comfort and support from that. I do not in any way think that this type of program harms anyone but only does good, and for those who have the opportunity to benefit from that I say go for it!


    August 26th, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    this kind of specialized treatment is a good way forward because it provides us with a good opportunity to try out methods that a specific to a particular group of people or to gain knowledge about how a particular group responds to a treatment method.

  • Star

    August 26th, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    We should be celebrating a new program, not complaining about who’s in and who’s out. Does that really matter? This is a big deal, people. You all know how hard it is to get any new support projects for mental health up and running anywhere in the country. Let’s not turn this into a battle of the sexes. Peace.

  • Theresa

    August 26th, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Well I think it’s wonderful news for Portland and the women there that so desperately need this service. Congratulations Portland for not ignoring your residents’ mental health needs!

  • Norma

    August 27th, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    Perhaps every city and town is different in terms of assessing what their needs really are and then providing those services for her residents. Maybe this is somewhere that Portland showed that there was a need for and they stepped up to the plate to make that a reality. What on earth could be wrong with that? Any responsible sity or town should do the same. You look and see where there are residents falling through the cracks and you try to develop programs that will best serve the community as a whole. If they have the money and the manpower to turn this into a reality then I say good for them for making improving healthcare in their area a priority and they should be looked to as a madel for the way things are supposed to be done.

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