Co-occurring Disorders, sometimes referred to as a Dual Diagnosis, is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously.

Sarah Fraser joined the staff of Doors of Hope in January to work specifically with clients suffering from co-occurring disorders. A graduate of MTSU, she studied Social Work and Family Studies and was recently accepted into the masters program. Sarah spent three years at the Mental Health Cooperative in Nashville working with the mental health population and those with substance abuse disorders. Before that, Sarah worked as an intern at Doors of Hope and was the first to teach classes at the correctional facilities.

Sarah is responsible for performing evaluations, such as an ACEs ( Adverse Childhood Experiences ) questionnaire, which aid in creating a treatment plan when a client enters the program at Doors of Hope. Clients then begin following a very structured schedule each day, beginning with meditation. They meet weekly with staff counselor, Ellen Blaylock, and are required to attend 3 meetings a week with Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Sarah teaches daily classes using an evidence-based curriculum that incorporates a wide range of topics, including PTSD, healthy relationships, and forgiveness. Other classes led by community volunteers include parenting and life skills. Sarah says, "I see some of the most creative and resilient women in this program. They have suffered such hardship, and have withstood trial after trial. They stand today with an attitude of humility and in search of healing. I believe that the women we serve want and appreciate being heard FIRST. Our staff has the tools and the resources to help them get where they need to be, but hearing them is a necessity that strengthens the relationship upfront."

The staff at Doors of Hope understands that in order for clients to be able to focus on recovery and rebuilding their lives, basic needs must be met and clients must feel safe. Housing, clothing, food, and toiletries are all provided. They are seen by health care providers, transported to job interviews, given legal assistance, and help obtaining necessary documents and ID and insurance coverage. Partners such as Amelia's Closet , St. Louise Clinic,and the Lion's Club are essential to providing what each client needs in order to start their new life.

Doors of Hope currently houses 30 women and is the only resource of its kind in Rutherford County. There is a waiting list of clients from 45 counties in Middle Tennessee. Clients are non-violent offenders and those who would return to the most dangerous situations are given priority.

Get involved! Doors of Hope is always in need of volunteers, donations (including meals each Monday night), and funds to keep the program going. Please visit our website to learn more about how you can help.