The Meadows Blog

The Meadows, a world-class trauma and addiction center in Wickenburg, Arizona, is a gold sponsor of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 31 from 10:00am to noon. A team from The Meadows will also be participating in the walk.

Last spring, AFSP launched its inaugural Out of the Darkness Campus Walk campaign. The Campus Walk, patterned after AFSP's highly successful Community Walk will take place again in 2012 at colleges and high schools across the country. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, only accidents and homicides are higher. For college students specifically, suicide is the second leading cause of death, just behind accidents.

The goal of the ASU Walk is to create awareness and raise more funds for aggressive mental health research and programs for college and high school students within the local community. The ASU Walk hopes to raise $20,000.

"We are pleased to support this very important event," said Jim Dredge, The Meadows CEO. "The Out of the Darkness Campus Walk campaign helps bring attention to the need for more suicide prevention education."

Steve Schiro, the AFSP Field Advocate in Arizona, became involved with the organization after his son, who was a senior at ASU, took his life last year. "My wife and I are both educators and we didn't see the signs. We needed to learn more and we found AFSP," Schiro said. Both he and his wife now serve on the board of the Arizona Chapter." Schiro added that awareness for students to see the signs of depression and suicide will bring the subject out into the open so people can talk about it and realize that there isn't a stigma and there are alternatives.

For more information on how to participate in the walk, please call 480-227-4230 or visit http://bit.ly/Anb19O.

A body of research indicates that there is a correlation between trauma and suicidal behaviors. The Meadows is the industry leader in treating trauma through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 807-3778 or visit www.themeadows.com.

AFSP is the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education, and to reaching out to people with mood disorders and those impacted by suicide. Since 1987, AFSP has invested over $10 million in new studies, as well as provided education and information through public workshops, trainings, our adolescent and college educational films, publications and public service announcements addressing teen depression.

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 one of their three centers or 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 is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

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The Meadows, one of America's leading centers for the treatment of addiction and trauma, is pleased to present an 11-part video interview with John Bradshaw, world-famous educator, counselor, motivational speaker, author, and leading figure in the field of mental health.

In the eighth video of the series, Mr. Bradshaw discusses the relationship between shame and depression, explaining that people who grow up in alcoholic, abusive, or shaming families often suffer from chronic shame. He adds that the effects of long-term chronic shame can be devastating, citing neuroscientific research suggesting that chronically shamed parts of the brain are "pruned."

"The parts being 'pruned' are the parts that cause chronic depression," he says.

Mr. Bradshaw has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial association with The Meadows, giving insights to staff and patients, speaking at alumni retreats, lecturing to mental health professionals at workshops and seminars, and helping to shape its cutting-edge treatment programs. In recognition of Mr. Bradshaw's contributions to addiction recovery, an on-campus lecture hall has been dedicated in his honor.

Identified as one of the most influential writers on emotional health in the 20th century, Mr. Bradshaw has changed the lives of millions of people around the world through his writings and sold-out workshops and seminars. His New York Times best-selling books include Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Creating Love, and Healing the Shame That Binds You.

In other videos in this series, Mr. Bradshaw discusses such topics as Survivor Week, the importance of after-care facilities, and The Meadows' model of treatment. To view all the videos in this compelling series, visit www.youtube.com/themeadowswickenburg.

For more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for addictions and trauma, see www.themeadows.orghttp://www.themeadows.org or call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.

Published in Blog
Friday, 10 June 2011 20:00

Pain: Healing, Growth, and Awareness

Pain: Healing, Growth, and Awareness

Emotional pain often brings people into therapy and/or recovery. This may be the pain of depression, another relationship ending badly, or finally hitting rock bottom. Addiction, in a very real sense, is used to not feel pain. However, in the end, addiction creates more pain than it avoids. Entering therapy or recovery is often seen as a path towards no longer feeling this pain. However, true healing and recovery asks us to feel and accept our pain. It is through the experience of feeling our pain that we receive many of the gifts that support our healing and recovery.

Dave and his experience in healing and recovery is an example of how feeling pain is an important part of the healing journey. Dave sits in my office with tears sliding down his cheeks. We are exploring his childhood experiences and the reality of what growing up in his family was like. Through his quivering lips, he spits out "I've been working on this for so long. You start talking about my family and I'm back here in all this pain again. Why am I stuck?"

Feeling pain, especially pain connected to traumatic events from childhood, is often interpreted as "being stuck." After all, it is easy to believe that "if I was not stuck, I would not be feeling this pain." This is not the case! Pain is a normal and healthy human emotion. Pain is an emotion to be felt and understood. Pain is an emotion that helps to guide us in life. Pain is an emotion that has gifts to offer us: healing, growth, and awareness. Feeling pain does not mean we are stuck. Quite the contrary, it often means we are doing good healing work.

Dave originally came into my office struggling with addiction. He held tightly to his outward persona which he unconsciously used to hide his pain, shame, and core self from the rest of the world. On the surface, Dave's family of origin looked wonderful, nurturing, and loving. Dave believed that whatever struggles he had were surely about him and his own "defectiveness." He projected to the world the image of someone who had moved through life with seeming ease but about every 6 months or so, Dave would be overwhelmed by pain and spend hours crying to himself, unsure of where this pain was coming from. At the same time, his addiction was gaining momentum and the unmanageability of his life was becoming more apparent.

In therapy, we initially addressed Dave's addiction and helped him to create a support community. Then, we dug into Dave's history and the emotional pain that drives his addiction. Seeing his family and childhood experiences in the light of reality was not easy for Dave. Slowly, he started to see his parents as loving but wounded. He began to understand how their wounds impacted him and limited what they were able to offer to him. Dave started to see that he was not "defective" but wounded.

Dave initially dropped into his pain around his father. Over a number of tear-filled sessions, he explored, accepted, confronted, and started holding boundaries around his father's wounds. Dave had finally dropped into his pain and allowed it to guide him into his healing and growth related to his father. Issues related to his father still come up. At times, Dave feels accepting of his past and at others he feels anger. However, the awareness that Dave received by opening up to his pain and accepting the realty of his father set this process in motion and continues to solidify his recovery.

Dave still feels pain but it no longer seeps out every 6 months in overwhelming bursts. His pain, as opposed to signaling he is stuck, is a signal that he is healing. Dave's pain guided him to uncover and recognize the shame he had been carrying from his father. Feeling his pain and allowing it to guide him in his work has allowed Dave to be less reactive to his father as well as accept his father for who he truly is, a wounded man who loves Dave but is often unable or does not know how to show this. When pain comes up for Dave around his father, he is able to embrace whatever new understanding about his father and their relationship is being offered to him. He no longer stuffs his pain and acts out his addiction to avoid it; Dave now feels his pain, observes his reactions, and uses the tools he has learned in recovery to take care of himself.

Pia Mellody talks about the gifts we receive from all emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. Dave is experiencing and taking advantage of the gifts we receive from pain: healing, growth, and awareness. This process started for Dave when he started to FEEL his pain. Previously he had used his addiction to numb his pain, lived in a fantasy to pretend his pain did not exist, and stuffed his pain by putting on a "good face" to show the world. Now that he is in recovery, lives in reality, and allows himself to be known, he is healing, growing, and learning.

Pain guides us in our journey and helps us in our own self care. It gives us information about ourselves, our situation, and the people around us. Pain lets us know where our wounds are, when the wounds of others are being acted out on us, and helps us to slow down and truly understand the situation. When we stuff our pain or pretend it is not there, we unnecessarily handicap ourselves. Stuffing our pain is like walking around in a pitch black room with our arms at our sides. The chances of us walking face first into the wall greatly increase! With our arms out, we are better able to find the walls without hurting ourselves. Successfully finding the walls allows us to get an understanding of the room's dimensions or, in others words, the reality of the room. With our arms out, we can adjust to the situation. The same is true of our pain. As we feel our pain, we get an understanding of the reality of the situation and can adjust to it.

As we feel the wall, we stop walking to save our nose from a damaging encounter. Similarly, feeling our pain allows us to adjust our own interactions and self care. We may put up our boundaries. We may recognize the reality of another person and shift what we share and/or take in from them. We may leave the situation.

With our arms out, we naturally move more cautiously, keeping ourselves more balanced even though we haven't felt anything. As we open ourselves to pain, a similar experience happens. Even when we do not feel pain, we are more aware of how we take care of ourselves. Whether this is meditation, exercise, journaling, phone calls, meetings, therapy, or rigorous honesty, we keep our self care regiment in place more easily when we are open to feeling our pain. And when pain emerges to help us see more clearly ourselves or our situation, we can fall back on this self care regiment and add to it as necessary. There are many gifts we receive when we are willing to feel our pain.

As Dave sits in my office, feeling his pain, and wondering why he is stuck, I look at him with caring and love. With all the compassion I can offer I say, "You are not stuck. You are more open to your feelings, especially pain. And you are taking advantage of the healing, growth, and awareness that pain gives you. You have used all of this in exploring and learning about your relationship with your dad. But today we are exploring the more subtle wounds you have from your mother. You have opened yourself to this process before and you have developed tools to help you to do this type of work. I'll be here with you as your pain allows you to heal, grow, and understand your relationship with your mother. This pain is your guide - embrace it!"

Tim Stein is a Marriage and Family Therapist based in Santa Rosa, CA. His specialties include sex addiction and developmental trauma. Tim works with individuals, couples, families, and groups as well as providing presentations in the areas of sexual addiction, relationships, and developmental trauma.

Published in Blog

The Meadows Free Lecture Series How To Feel Better in Your Body;

Simple Skills based in Neuroscience presented by Stephanie Book Koehler, MA, MFT on Thursday, June 16, 2011 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Culver City Senior Center, 4095 Overland Avenue, Culver City, California  90232

If you sometimes find yourself at the mercy of your thoughts or feelings, sinking into depression or spiraling up into anxiety - and don't we all? Join Stephanie Book Koehler in this interactive lecture where you'll learn simple, powerful tools to bounce back from overwhelm. You will learn to ground yourself in your body and have more ease. These skills are based in neuroscience and are part of Somatic Experiencing training for dealing with the challenges of everyday life.

No registration required. For information on The Meadows or its Southern California activities, please contact Colleen Capistrano, Los Angeles/Southern California Community Relations Representative, at 800-510-5572 or ccapistrano@themeadows.com

Published in Blog
Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:00

Sexual Addiction

I have been working in the field of sexual compulsivity for almost twenty years and during that time I have seen a seen a shift in the attitudes and education of medical and clinical professions. For a long time sexual compulsivity was seen as an unsubstantiated disorder. It was not legitimized by clinical trials, research studies or even more profound, recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, in recent years the attitudes and treatment is shifting both professionally and culturally. These changes are positive, but still I pause. I believe we can do better. Diagnosing and assessing sexual disorders is challenging. Not for the client whose behaviors are overt, having been caught with evidence in hand. This disorder can be a pattern of complex interactive behaviors that often leave the professional perplexed.

Or even more profound leave them believing they have a complete assessment of the subjective world of the addict. At The Meadows extended care treatment specifically for sexual disorders, Dakota we have seen clients, (mixed gender population) who were not diagnosed with sexual disorders. Fortunately skilled clinicians saw signs or red flags and were astute enough to refer them to Dakota.

Consider this case. A female patient came into primary care with the following presenting issues: depression, alcohol abuse, self-reported "flirting" while drinking. A skillful clinician was able to see the indicators of a sexual disorder. By the time the client discharged from extended care the clients list of sexual behaviors included; compulsive masturbation, masturbation to the point of injury, erotic literature, sexual fantasy, seductive role sex, Internet pornography including sado masochism and rape sites.

Consider the case of a 31-year-old female. Her presenting issues upon admit included; depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and love addiction. After five weeks in extended care she had disclosed sexual behaviors including; working as a prostitute and stripper, seductive role sex, phone sex, affairs, anonymous sex (sex clubs and swinging), working as a dominatrix, use of urination and defecation for sexual arousal and sexually exploited by boss.
The same is true for men. This is especially true in cases where men have had same sex encounters but identify as heterosexual. The confusion and shame is so overwhelming they do not disclose, keeping it a secret. They may be willing to talk about a pornography stash or acting out with prostitutes but a complete sexual disclosure is something they are unwilling to risk.

As we all know in addiction, it is the secrets that kill. It is the shame associated with the secrets that compel the compulsive lying. It is vital that we as clinicians create a safe and healing environment for the client to unburden themselves with the truth.

I often say this work is not for the faint at heart. Sexual addiction can lead our clients into very dark, socially unacceptable behaviors that can be both shocking and disturbing. It is our responsibility as clinician to hold that safe place for our clients to heal.

This may seem like a rudimentary statement but consider the previous case; it is much easier and or comfortable to explore issues of love addiction then the dark and seedy reality of a client who views defecation as sexually gratifying.

I like the idea that it is my responsibility as a therapist to hold temporarily for the client the burden of this shame. I respectfully and skillfully urge the client to describe his or her shame and the behavior it has generated. The client hands it off to me for storage until that time in our therapy when I can hand it back to him or her for inspection. At that point, the client has grown able to appreciate that he or she is not endemically evil, but is the victim of abuse.
I am able to hold the shame, the anxious hope, whatever belief system, or whatever emotion the client is feeling, and say to this suffering and trusting person, "You know what? I believe you can work through this, and that you can and will become even more than you now believe is possible. And I will hold all the shame or other emotion for you while we are doing this work together."

What can make for successful interventions is becoming the solid ego state against which the wounded ego can collide, yet survive. I mirror for them the respect, understanding, and safety they have never known. The wounded part begins to heal. The therapist becomes the good parent. The client internalizes that identity. The healing takes place within the therapeutic relationship.

The goal of early treatment is to help clients trust that I respect them in their full humanity, even the darkest parts. I want them to understand that I can deal with their demons and find the healthy soul trapped within. This is the beginning of the healing.

Published in Blog

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