The Meadows Blog

Friday, 27 March 2015 00:00

Join Us At A Free Event April 2, 2015

The Meadows Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Levine presents: In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness this Thursday, April 2 at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch Arizona Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The presentation discusses how trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but is rather an injury caused by paralyzing fright, helplessness and loss. By enlisting the wisdom of the living sensing body, and engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions, trauma can be transformed and healed. There will also be a discussion on the roots of addiction in unresolved trauma, insecure attachment, and in habitual childhood frustration.

Dr. Levine draws on over 40 years experience as a pioneering body-oriented clinician with a focus on stress, biology, child development and discoveries in neurosciences. He shows that it is possible to live life robustly with pleasure and creativity even in the face of the most painful assaults to our humanity, as well as in the face of deceptively trivial ones.

From an evolutionary understanding of the source of trauma, to a spiritual dimension of how we as human beings can be strengthened by traumatic healing – we learn to attend to the “unspoken voice of the body.”

Date Thursday, April 2, 2015

Location Hyatt Regency Scottsdale
Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
Arizona Ballroom
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Time 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch provided by The Meadows

Space is limited!

To RSVP please contact
Shannon Spollen
(928) 684-4048

About the Speaker

Peter A. Levine, PhD, holds doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology. The developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma, and founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment, he conducts trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures. Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA on the development of the space shuttle project and was a member of the Institute of World Affairs Task Force of Psychologists for Social Responsibility in developing responses to large-scale disasters and ethno-political warfare. Levine’s international bestseller, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, has been translated into twenty-two languages. His recent interests include the prevention of trauma in children, and he has co-written two books, with Maggie Kline, in this area: Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids. Levine’s original contribution to the field of Body-Psychotherapy was honored in 2010 when he received the Life Time Achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP). For further information on Dr. Levine’s trainings, projects and literature, visit and


PLEASE NOTE: You must RSVP to receive a continuing education certificate. Two continuing education credits or two NBCC clock hours will be given.

  • The Meadows is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Meadows maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Course meets criteria for 2 hours of continuing education credit hours for psychologists.

  • The Meadows is an NBCCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may off er NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. Th e ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program. Provider #5687

  • NAADAC Approved Provider. Provider #000217, 2 CEU’s.


You must attend the lecture in its entirety. No partial credit will be given. No exceptions. Please note that it is your responsibility to contact your licensing/certifi cation boards to determine eligibility to meet your continuing education requirements.

Published in Events and Training

By: Jon G. Caldwell, D.O.

During my first meeting with Rebecca (as I will call her), I asked about her family history of mental and emotional difficulties, which can tell me something about her genetic susceptibilities, and about her early life experience with caregivers. These two elements of the evaluation often provide critical information about the unique way in which nature and nurture contribute to human development (see my previous article on this topic).

When I asked Rebecca these questions, an unforgettable look flashed across her face that was part shame and part longing as she explained to me that she was adopted and had no “valuable information” to offer on these topics. All she knew was that she had been adopted by an American family from a Romanian orphanage at the age of two. In fact, to her surprise, this little bit of information proved to be extremely valuable as we tried to better understand how her challenges in adulthood were related to her early childhood experiences.

In the last several decades, as geographic and political borders began to break down, the deplorable conditions of many orphanages around the world came to light, including those in Romania. In some cases this exposure led to policy changes, gradual improvements in orphanage conditions and a wave of adoptions by people from other countries. It also offered scientists a rare opportunity to study children who had experienced early deprivation and adversity and to follow these children as their environmental conditions changed after adoption.

Research of this kind has confirmed that early social experience plays a critically important role in human development. Indeed, we come into the world with a brain that has evolved to capitalize on the social environment, which under favorable conditions is full of rich opportunities for learning and completely embedded in a milieu of meaningful social relationships. Unfortunately, this doesn’t describe many orphanages around the world, where children are kept in cribs or cots for long periods with little access to toys or books and caregiver-to-child ratios can be as high as one caregiver for twenty children. This issue is terribly important because, for better or for worse, the early social environment appears to lay the foundation for cognitive, emotional and social development.

In fact, there appears to be sensitive periods early in life, during which time the brain has an overabundance of neurons that are just waiting to capture information from the outside world. During these sensitive periods, certain brain circuits are more easily shaped by environmental input and may also be more susceptible to environmental insult. After the sensitive period has ended, the brain actually “prunes” or cuts back those neural connections that aren’t necessary for success in the environment of upbringing.

However, as you might expect, children raised in deprived circumstances may not receive adequate brain stimulation during sensitive periods of development, and this is bound to negatively affect the neural pruning process as well. Fortunately, the brain’s mechanisms of neural pruning are balanced with its incredible capacity for “neural plasticity” – which is the brain’s ability to continually change in response to environmental demands. Thus, even when environmental conditions are suboptimal during a particular sensitive period, it doesn't mean that development can't or won't take place, but it can mean that development might proceed along a somewhat atypical trajectory, bringing with it some challenges for the child and the child's caregivers.

Early social experiences with caregivers and family members are important for the development of adaptive emotional and behavioral regulation (i.e., self-regulation). Children everywhere encounter stressful situations on a daily basis and typically they must rely on caregivers to help them resolve these situations and to aide them in regulating their nervous system so that the toxic effects of stress are ameliorated in a timely fashion. In typical rearing environments, children experience repeated cycles of nervous system activation and caregiver-facilitated deactivation and these cycles get written into the child’s neurobiology until it becomes a natural, self-regulatory response pattern for the developing child.

Individuals like Rebecca who were raised in adverse environments often do not receive the short- and long-term benefits that come with this kind of nervous system regulation and organization. Often, these children are forced into a sort of social hibernation where they must shut-down their natural impulses to seek closeness and security from caregivers. Some of these children will learn to sooth themselves, but these make-shift measures are by no means optimal and it is likely that many of these children do not experience the much-needed social-emotional brain development that comes through interacting with sensitive and responsive caregivers.

Despite these concerns, the research on Romanian orphans illustrates the power of neural plasticity and provides some degree of hope because many of these orphans show significant developmental gains in certain areas after they are adopted. The first area of development to show progress after adoption is often physical health; these children can rather quickly experience improvements in weight, height and fine and gross motor skills. In fact, many these children may not be physically different from their peers by the time they start school.

Somewhat surprisingly, these children often make gains in the cognitive domain too – they seem to catch up in terms of reading and writing, and general intelligence is often similar to their school-aged peers. Yet, a proportion of children who were in an orphanage have some lasting problems with attention, concentration, focus, distractibility, impulsivity, and poor organizational skills. It seems as though the neural circuits involved in “executive function” (i.e., attention, cognitive flexibility, planning, goal-directed behavior, etc.) are very sensitive to suboptimal rearing environments.

Of interest, the areas that seem to be most affected by early deprivation are the social and emotional domains. Children raised in orphanages frequently have challenges in terms of regulating their emotions, calming themselves, coping with difficulties, initiating and maintaining friendships, and negotiating close relationships. Because these children often make noticeable physical and cognitive gains after adoption, the lingering social-emotional issues can be confusing to the child and caregivers. Of course, these social-emotional issues can be compounded if the adoptive home environment is less-than-nurturing or if the child encounters any form of trauma later in childhood.

Even after leaving the orphanage, some of these children have difficulty learning to trust caregivers and to make their attachment needs known in adaptive ways. There can be a tendency on the part of these children to avoid showing vulnerable emotions and outward displays of affection and they may seem indifferent to, or afraid of, intimacy and closeness. On the other hand, some of these children may show signs of heightened separation anxiety, clingy and anxious behavior, and they might have strong fears of abandonment. Some children display signs of both of these extremes in their relationships with caregivers – the so-called “push-pull” pattern where they desperately want companionship but at the same time seem to fear closeness or fear that it won’t last. This sort of picture is sometimes referred to as “reactive attachment”.

That being said, it is important to stress that a warm and nurturing home environment will go a long way to buffering many of the social-emotional difficulties associated with early adversity. Over time, sensitive and responsive parenting practices, coupled with consistent and caring limit-setting, can gradually establish a sense of trust and security. Within the safety and security of the caregiver-child attachment relationship, the child’s nervous system can be re-organized in a way that supports greater self-regulation. This socially enriched environment can stimulate new brain pathways in the adopted child that will eventually underpin a greater capacity to regulate emotions and maintain close relationships.

Like Rebecca, some individuals who have experienced early social deprivation require additional support and treatment later in life. This may come as a result of ongoing issues from early childhood that were never quite resolved or previously resolved issues that resurface due to subsequent experiences of loss/death, abandonment, betrayal or traumatic experiences. While the resurfaced issues can usually be handled by traditional treatment methods, it can be very helpful if the treatment providers also have an understanding of how early social deprivation and trauma can influence social-emotional functioning late in life.

The Meadows treatment model is designed to specifically address the core developmental issues related to early childhood neglect and abuse. Treatment at The Meadow also helps individuals to understand how these core developmental issues are related to secondary symptoms, like shame, anger, low self-esteem, co-dependency, love addiction/avoidance, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviors of all kinds. Through various forms of expertly delivered treatment, individuals at The Meadows build on these insights by gaining actual experience in learning to esteem themselves from within and regulate their own nervous systems more effectively. Gradually, as individuals at The Meadows feel more comfortable with themselves, they are aided in forming safe and meaningful relationships with family members and significant others.

For many individuals who come to The Meadows, the experience of early social adversity starts to become a vital part of a broader life story that no longer carries with it the pain of the past, but instead offers the promise of a brighter future.

Jon G. Caldwell, D.O., is a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of adults with relational trauma histories and addictive behaviors. Dr. Caldwell currently works full-time as a psychiatrist at The Meadows treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona. For many years he has been teaching students, interns, residents, and professionals in medicine and mental health about how childhood adversity influences health and wellbeing. His theoretical perspective is heavily influenced by his PhD graduate work at the University of California at Davis where he has been researching how early childhood maltreatment and insecure attachment relationships affect cognitive, emotional, and social functioning later in life. Dr. Caldwell’s clinical approach has become increasingly flavored by the timeless teachings of the contemplative traditions and the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Published in Blog

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

The Model of the Developmental Immaturity was developed by Pia Mellody. In the 1970s, Pia was working at The Meadows, a trauma and addiction Inpatient Treatment Facility. Pia found that she was encountering an increasing number of patients who identified less than nurturing, abusive family systems in their childhood - leading to adulthood behaviors of codependency. The codependency patterns translated into addictions, mood disorders and physical illness. Pia's continued work with patients led to the conclusion that people with codependence wind up in despair and actually die from the effects of codependence. Thus, the model was "born" to help patients understand the Family of Origin issues that brought them to the symptoms of their addictions, mood disorders and relationship struggles.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity
Valuable Self-esteem Issues Control Relational
Vulnerable Boundary Issues Resentment Enmeshment
Imperfect Reality Issues Spirituality Dishonesty
Dependent Dependency Issues Addiction
Spontaneous Moderation Intimacy Intensity

The Model of Developmental Immaturity is incorporated into every facet of treatment at The Meadows; from the week-long workshops to the intensive inpatient program.  At each level, patients receive education on The Model and learn how to identify the childhood roots of their adult behaviors. Therapists at The Meadows lead patients through understanding how their core issues, secondary symptoms and relational problems were set up in childhood, leading to codependence in adulthood. The biggest understanding that we want patients to leave treatment with is the belief in the Nature of the Child - which is the Nature of the Functional Adult; that we are inherently valuable and perfectly imperfect. We will further explore The Model in stages, beginning with understanding the primary symptoms of codependency and understanding The Nature of the Child.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity is a model that has to do with codependency. Codependency is defined as a disorder of immaturity caused by relational problems.  Understanding codependency is imperative to understanding The Model. There are five primary symptoms of codependency. These are:

1. We have trouble esteeming ourselves from the idea of inherent worth.
2. We have trouble protecting and nurturing ourselves.
3. We have trouble being real.
4. We have trouble attending to our needs and wants.
5. We have trouble living life with an attitude of moderation in all things.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity Issues is a model used at The Meadows to treat the effects of childhood trauma and issues of developmental immaturity. Childhood trauma and developmental immaturity can lead to addiction issues, mood disorders and physical issues.

To further understand the model, we will examine each column. The first column is the Nature of the Child. The Nature of the Child is the Precious Child Ego State.  Our precious child is the reality of who we are:

  • We are precious and valuable just as we are.
  • We are vulnerable and can expect protection.
  • We are human and make mistakes. We are perfectly imperfect.
  • We are dependent on others for our needs and wants.
  • We are spontaneous and open.

As children, we get relationally traumatized by enmeshment, neglect or abandonment in the “Nature of the Child” areas. Let's explore each of these terms:

  • Enmeshment is the inappropriate closeness of family members. In an enmeshed and overinvolved relationship, individuals get lost in the relationship. There is a lack of clear boundaries, thus each individual has difficulty having a clear sense of self. Examples of phrases that demonstrate enmeshment are, "You're my everything," "Without you, my life would not be worth living," or "You complete me."

  • Neglect happens when a child's basic dependency needs were not met. Dependency needs are our basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, safety and medical attention. Either the parent did not know how to meet these needs or the parent did not meet these needs well enough.  Neglect in childhood may lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, anger issues, or alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood.

  • Abandonment happens when the loss of one both parents occurs physically or emotionally. If the parent was not present in the child's life or the parent withheld affection or nurturing, the child was abandoned. Abandonment in childhood can result in adulthood difficulties with expressing and managing emotions, trust issues or a need to be in control.

Any behavior exacted upon us as children that was less than nurturing is defined as trauma in this model. Childhood trauma causes immaturity in the Core Issues (Column II of the model).

We will examine the Core Issues in Part II of "Breaking Down the Model."

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect

Published in Blog

The Meadows Proudly Participates in UKESAD 2011 - London, England

What a tremendous experience we had in London! The Meadows Senior Staff spent the week of May 16th at the 8th Annual UK/EUROPEAN SYMPOSIUM ON ADDICTIVE DISORDERS - better known as the UKESAD 2011 Conference. The conference brought together some of the top minds in the world of addiction treatment and provided an opportunity to network and exchange national and international knowledge with more than 500 attendees.

On Friday, May 20, 2011 Meadows Senior Fellows; Pia Mellody, RN and Shelley Uram, MD co-presented the Plenary Session. The presentation titled "FACING CODEPENDENCE: WHAT IT IS, WHERE IT COMES FROM AND HOW IT SABOTAGES OUR LIVES" addressed the effects of childhood boundary violations on adult behaviors, including codependent adults lacking skills to mature or enjoy healthy relationships - personal or professional. Dr. Uram discussed the effects of Childhood Trauma on the Brain and further how those early traumas are stored to negatively affect our developmental maturity leading to co-dependent behaviors and addictions.

In addition to our Senior Fellows, our CEO, Jim Dredge, was on hand to meet and greet attendees throughout the conference. People lined up to a book signing by Pia Mellody of her best selling work. Dr. Shelley Uram hosted an Alumni Lecture titled: Understanding Trauma and the Brain, which attracted a standing only crowd! Another very popular event was The Meadows Raffle; to which a lucky winner - Alistar Richardson of London - received an I Pad Generation 2 with 32G.

There were some newsworthy issues addressed, including a review of the "Payment by Results" plan proposed by the British Government. This plan would overhaul the reimbursement to alcohol and drug programs by basing reimbursement on treatment effectiveness. This is an issue the U.S. is also debating right now so the U.K outcomes will be interesting to watch.

The experience we had at UKESAD was stimulating and thought provoking. We are already looking forward to next years’ conference.

Published in Blog

The Meadows is pleased to present its ongoing series of videos on addiction and trauma; the series features some of the most influential figures in the mental health field, including Maureen Canning, John Bradshaw, and Dr. Jerry Boriskin, among others.
In the second video of her series, Maureen Canning, MA, LMFT, clinical consultant and senior fellow at The Meadows, discusses the nature of sexual addiction and trauma in women.

"Sexual addiction, unlike other addictions, is based in shame," she explains. "Sex addicts have a sense of self that is very diminished. They feel worthless at the core of who they are. The feel as if they don't deserve love."

She goes on to explain that most sexual addictions are rooted in childhood trauma - and that trauma causes disruptions in psychosexual development.

"When the child grows up, they want to undo that original trauma, and so they start to act out," Ms. Canning says. "And when they act out, they re-create the original behavior."

In addition to her role as senior fellow at The Meadows, Ms. Canning is a clinical consultant at Dakota, an extended-care facility dedicated exclusively to the treatment of sexual addiction and trauma. Her extensive clinical experience includes individual, couples, and family counseling; workshops; lectures; educational trainings; and interventions. She is the author of Lust, Anger, Love: Understanding Sexual Addiction and The Road to Healthy Intimacy.

In other videos in the series, Ms. Canning discusses such topics as the nature of healthy sexuality, how sexual addiction can kill, and what partners of sex addicts need to know. View the entire series of The Meadows' videos at For more information about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for addictions and trauma, see or call The Meadows at 888-888-8888.

Published in Blog

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