The Meadows Blog

Claudia Black, Ph.D., recognized internationally for her pioneering and cutting-edge work with family systems and addictive disorders, recently launched The Claudia Black Young Adult Center for young adults ages 18 - 26 who are struggling with unresolved emotional trauma, addictions, or who have a dual diagnosis.

“Our mission at the Claudia Black Young Adult Center,” said Dr. Black, whose work fueled the development of the codependency and developmental trauma fields, “is to help young adults and their families forge recovery paths, so they can heal, blossom, and thrive. As the clinical architect for this groundbreaking treatment program, I am honored to be a conduit for the journey of recovery for young adults. There’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing the many miracles realized as a result of these transformations for such individuals who are bright, passionate, and full of hope.” In the late 1970s, Dr. Black’s work with children impacted by drug and alcohol addiction created the framework for the adult children of alcoholics’ movement. She has also authored over fifteen books, including 'Intimate Treason'; 'It Will Never Happen To Me!'; and 'Changing Course: Healing from Loss, Abandonment and Fear'.

The innovative Center, one of three treatment programs run by The Meadows, is an intensive, experientially-based, 45-day inpatient treatment program focusing on a nurturing community, family systems, proven testing and assessments, life skills, experiential therapies, and 12-step work.

Although trauma comes in many forms, young adults may be victims of circumstances, such as bullying, sexual assault, abandonment, and may have faced absent, controlling, or addicted parents. Young adults, said Dr. Black, look to their peers for acceptance, guidance, and support, so creating an empowering recovery community for this population is instrumental to the healing process.

The Claudia Black Young Adult Center utilizes an array of experiential healing modalities – along with other therapies - including neurofeedback, mindfulness practices, equine-assisted psychotherapy, challenge courses, and trauma-informed psychodrama, along with EMDR and Somatic Experiencing.

About The Meadows

The Meadows is an industry leader and the most trusted name in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. The Meadows helps change lives through the Meadows Model, 12-step practices, and the holistic healing of mind, body, and spirit.

To learn more about The Meadows, Contact Us or call (800) 244-4949.

Published in Treatment & Recovery
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00

Claudia Black Launches New Website

The Meadows is proud to announce the launch of Senior Fellow, Claudia Black’s new website,

This newly designed website will serve as a streamlined resource for information regarding Dr. Black’s pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders, as well as her training workshops and professional speaking engagements. Dr. Black’s books, CDs, and educational videos for the use with addicted clients and families impacted by addiction are available from The Meadows bookstore.

Since the 1970's, Dr. Black's work has encompassed the impact of addiction on young and adult children. She has offered models of intervention and treatment related to family violence, multi-addictions, relapse, anger, depression and women's issues. For further insight and information on Dr. Black, you may find her on Facebook and Youtube, in addition to her frequent contributions to The Meadows blog.

Published in News & Announcements
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 00:00

ABC’s to Family of Origin Recovery

Written by Claudia Black, Ph.D., Senior Fellow of The Meadows

“It is true that as long as we live we may keep repeating the patterns established in childhood. It is true that the present is powerfully shaped by the past. But it is also true that insight at any age keeps us from singing the same sad songs again.”
Judith Viorst
Necessary Losses

To be able to put the past behind and not repeat those same sad songs, one needs to take four primary steps.

1. A—Affective: Explore past history

The purpose in exploring the past is not to assign blame but to acknowledge reality and grieve one’s pain. In other words, people have to admit to themselves the truth of what happened, rather than hide or keep secret the hurt and wounds that occurred. There is no doubt denial became a skill that served one well as a child in a survival mode. Unfortunately denial, which begins as a defense, becomes a skill that interferes with how people live their life today. When someone lets go of denial and acknowledges the past, grieves the pain that is associated with the losses, it is an opportunity to put the past into perspective.

As people move from the process of breaking their denial and grieving their pain, they need to move into the next step. (Yes, C comes before B ☺)

2. C—Cognitive: Connect the past to the present

Connect the past to the present means asking “How does this past pain and loss influence who I am today?” “How does the past affect who I am as a parent, in the workplace, in a relationship, how I feel about myself?” The cause and effect connections discovered between past losses and present day life offers a focus for recovery. It allows one to become more centered in the here and now. This clarity will identify the areas for further healing.

3. C—Cognitive: Challenge internalized beliefs

Challenging internalized beliefs means asking, “What beliefs have I internalized from my growing up years? Are they helpful or hurtful to me today? What beliefs would support me in living a healthier life?” So often people internalize beliefs such as, “It is not okay to say No,” or “Other people’s needs are more important than my own,” or “The world owes me and I am entitled.” “People will take advantage of you every chance they can.” If these beliefs are getting in the way of how someone wants to live their life, they need to take responsibility for them. They need to not only be willing to recognize how that belief is sabotaging their healing, but to create new beliefs in their place.

4. B—Behavioral: Learn new skills

Learning new skills means asking, “What did I not learn that would help me today?” E.g., How to set limits, how to perceive options, to ask for help. Some of the skills learned during childhood were often skills and behaviors that were developmentally premature and/or learned from a basis of fear or shame. When the latter occurs there is a tendency to feel like an imposter. Developing skills is what ultimately gives people greater choices in their lives, and it is in addressing the feelings and beliefs associated with any skill that enhances greater confidence in their behavioral change.

These four steps are not always linear, but they all need to be incorporated into whatever the specific issue is that is being addressed. If someone only does the affective work, the healing has the potential to become a blaming process. If someone only does the cognitive work, the person has the potential to continue to present a false sense of self. If someone only does the behavioral work, one can demonstrate great skill in a contained setting but not demonstrate the ability to follow through on that skill in the real world. Hence the need for the ABCs, or shall I say the ACBs.

Specializing in trauma treatment, The Meadows works with clients from a bottom-up, top-down perspective. Trauma therapies such as SE, SP, EMDR, and mindful practices are integrated throughout the program. Cognitive behavioral therapy is integrated throughout the clinical work.

Published in Treatment & Recovery

Claudia Black, Ph.D., one of the world-renown Senior Fellows at The Meadows, spent this spring traveling and speaking across the country, frequently discussing what it is The Meadows and their sister programs treat, and that is trauma and addictions.

Here is a snippet of Dr. Black’s message:

Christopher says he remembers his first drink so well. He got sick as a dog; his head was spinning, and it was oblivion. He was 12, and he loved it. He was in his own bubble, and no one was ever going to hurt him again. No one was ever going to have the power to make him feel bad about himself. No one could ever get close enough to him for them to make a difference in his life. Alcohol and other drugs became his protector.

Deanna says she had loving parents, but at school, the kids began to pick on her, and she was bullied throughout the following years. She didn’t tell anyone, and in high school she began cutting on herself and then found her parents’ pills. She didn’t know why they had meds, but that didn’t matter to her − they just helped to dull her pain.

Jason was a first responder, an EMT and a firefighter. He had spent ten years, responding to people in crisis, and he was in his fourth year of work when he was the only one of his team of six to make it out of a burning building alive after being trapped for several hours. Until that time, he would have considered himself a normal drinker, in fact, a light drinker. Today, he can’t seem to get enough.

Chris, Deanna, and Jason are addicted, and each is a trauma survivor.

Two facts:

  1. Addiction increases the likelihood of trauma. While under the influence, you are more apt to experience humanly caused tragedies such as car accidents, burning home, or be subject to violence, physical and sexual.
  2. Trauma increases the likelihood of addiction.

Definition of trauma: the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security and result in your feeling helpless, alone and vulnerable.

Not that long ago when we thought of trauma we thought of natural disasters—fires that rampage acres, hurricanes and tornadoes, or shootings on our college campuses, movie theatres, elementary schools, or acts of terrorism. It may come with the experience of war, rape, a car accident or the burning of the family home.

These are thought of as Big T traumas. They are very horrific situations that frequently lead to trauma responses, some as severe as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). But of all the people who experience trauma only 30% have PTSD, but nonetheless they may still suffer other trauma responses.

Little t traumas can be just as damaging as a Big T trauma, especially because they tend to occur over time and build upon each other. Examples would be ongoing emotional abuse or neglect, experiences of shame, humiliation, being left out, bullied or ridiculed and feeling not cared for.

The trauma that occurs in the family system can be both blatant and subtle. What is most significant is that it is chronic. It can include both Big T, and little T traumas Psychological effects are most likely to be most severe if the trauma is:

  • Human caused
  • Repeated
  • Unpredictable
  • Undergone in childhood
  • Perpetrated by a caregiver. Sadly this often means growing up in an addicted home, a rageful home, or simply a chronically impaired family system.

We know the impact can be ameliorated by existence of a support system at the time of the trauma. This is why we see some children show greater resilience than others. Even within the same family system, some children more than others are able to garner support and experience greater protection.

It’s common for someone to minimize their experience because someone else has a greater horror story. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your own emotional experience of the event and the subsequent beliefs you internalize about yourself and the world. Your experience is not negated by someone else’s experience. They have theirs, and you have yours. Whether or not the trauma is acute or chronic, Big T or Little t, within the family system or not, the defenses developed are often what we are addressing when confronted with addictions, codependency, repetitive hurtful relationships, anxiety and depression.

The Meadows Can Help

For over 35 years, The Meadows trauma treatment program has been helping trauma victims heal and learn the skills necessary to cope with the devastating, and often hidden, effects of trauma. The trauma treatment program at The Meadows was specifically designed for trauma survivors by Pia Mellody and a team of world renowned experts including Dr. Peter Levine, John Bradshaw, Dr. Shelley Uram, Dr. Jerry Boriskin, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Dr. Claudia Black.

The trauma treatment program at The Meadows can help you create a life of recovery, peace and healing. We have helped over 45,000 clients to date, through workshops and inpatient treatment programs. To learn more about the trauma workshops and treatment programs at The Meadows, call us at 800-244-4949 or visit this page for more information.

Published in Trauma

The Meadows’ Senior Fellow, Claudia Black, MSW, PhD, will be featured on BlogTalkRadio’s program “Hope-Strength-Recovery” with host Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, CSAT, PCC, on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 9:15pm (EST).  The program can be accessed by visiting

Dr. Black is a renowned author and trainer internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders.  Since the 1970's, Dr. Black's work has encompassed the impact of addiction on young and adult children. She has offered models of intervention and treatment related to family violence, multi-addictions, relapse, anger, depression and women's issues. Dr. Black designs and presents training workshops and seminars to professional audiences in the field of family service, mental health, addiction and correctional services. She has authored numerous books and educational videos for use with addicted clients and the families affected by addiction. Dr. Black’s latest book is Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction.    

During the program Dr. Black will talk about her work over the past 35 years and discuss with listeners the relationship between trauma in the family and addictive disorders. So often, people think of trauma as an incident or experience; Dr. Black will explain the distinction between what are called “big T” and “little t” traumas focusing specifically on the impact they have on children and the ramifications of the trauma in adult life. Recognizing that people often become addicted to not just substances, but also to behavioral processes, she will help listeners recognize the similarities and distinctions. Dr. Black will also offer direction to the family member still in the throes of being impacted by an active addiction. 

Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT, is currently in private practice in Indianapolis, IN. She speaks nationally on mental health issues and is featured in several local magazines. In addition, she is featured in regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one’s potential.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows’ work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center.  In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in their inpatient center and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior.  The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services as a Behavioral Health Inpatient Facility and is accredited by The Joint Commission.

Published in Blog
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