The Meadows Blog

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

Big Shoes to Fill

By Jean Collins-Stuckert, MSW, LISAC, CSAT
Director of Workshops for The Meadows

When I returned to The Meadows as Director of Workshops in 2012 Doug Dodge was facilitating the Grief Workshop. He had always facilitated that workshop and was extraordinary in the position. Doug was weathered; he had been doing grief work for more years than most of us have been alive. He was full of compassion, candid, and gave a great hug (although you may smell like cologne for the rest of the day). I knew this first hand because he had facilitated a grief workshop for me when my sister died suddenly and tragically that helped to mend my shattered heart and made a lasting impression.

Doug died last year leaving us grieving. We cancelled the workshop for a period, unable to imagine anyone else taking Doug’s place. Eventually, the demand increased because grief is universal. There are all sorts of losses and layers of grief. It can accumulate outweighing our coping skills and leave us feeling broken. So, we developed a new grief and loss workshop called “Healing Heartache” with an eclectic approach. It’s not Doug’s workshop, but I believe he would approve (I attempted to channel him when developing the workshop). It’s a blend of psycho-education, narrative, psychodrama, experiential work, nervous system regulation, art, music, ritual and heart. With the curriculum developed, all I needed was a facilitator who was a good fit.

I facilitated the Grief and Loss Workshop myself until Janie Exner joined the workshop team. Janie was the real deal, and I knew she would enrich that workshop. Janie is seasoned, genuine, warm, disarming, empathic and highly skilled. She has experienced profound loss in her life allowing her to be fully present when someone else is in agonizing pain. She embraced the idea and commenced training. I passed the torch; it was seamless. Janie doesn’t attempt to fill Doug’s shoes—she has found a pair all her own.

Our next Healing Heartache: a Grief and Loss Workshop is scheduled for March 30, 2015. You can register by calling our Workshops Coordinator at 800-244-4949.

Published in Workshops

The Meadows will offer a Grief Workshop the week of July 22, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at The Meadows' campus. This five-day workshop teaches participants how to deal with the pain they feel after a loss.

The Meadows' Grief Workshop is designed to assist participants in addressing and resolving the issues surrounding loss, whether from death of a loved one, end of a relationship, or a major change in social or economic status. Participants in the Grief Workshop learn how to face life’s hurdles and triumph over pain by using the grieving process to take control of feelings about their losses.

Throughout the week, patients explore thinking processes and the patterns of destructive behavior that follow trauma and other loss. Issues pertaining to relational problems are also addressed, with emphasis on recognizing emotional reactions to loss, trauma and broken dreams.

Participants leave the Grief Workshop able to realize the negative, self-destructive behaviors that have impacted those around them, and able to enjoy the freedom of self-expression that comes with learning to evaluate and properly address feelings.

Attending a Meadows' workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.

For more information about The Meadows’ Grief Workshop and other workshops offered by The Meadows, please contact an Intake Coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

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 inpatient centers 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 a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog

The Meadows will offer a Grief Workshop the week of April 22 from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday at The Meadows' campus. This five-day workshop teaches participants how to deal with the pain they feel after a loss.

The Meadows' Grief Workshop is designed to assist participants in addressing and resolving the issues surrounding loss, whether from death of a loved one, end of a relationship, or a major change in social or economic status. Participants in the Grief Workshop learn how to face life's hurdles and triumph over pain by using the grieving process to take control of feelings about their losses.

Throughout the week, patients explore thinking processes and the patterns of destructive behavior that follow trauma and other loss. Issues pertaining to relational problems are also addressed, with emphasis on recognizing emotional reactions to loss, trauma and broken dreams.

Participants leave the Grief Workshop able to realize the negative, self-destructive behaviors that have impacted those around them, and able to enjoy the freedom of self-expression that comes with learning to evaluate and properly address feelings.

Attending a Meadows' workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.

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 www.themeadows.com.

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 inpatient centers 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 a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog

The Meadows will offer a Grief Workshop the week of July 30 from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday at The Meadows' campus. This five-day workshop teaches participants how to deal with the pain they feel after a loss.

The Grief Workshop is designed to assist participants in addressing and resolving issues surrounding losses of all kinds; death of a loved one, end of a relationship, or a major change in social or economic status. Participants will learn about the grieving process and how they were taught to avoid feelings about their losses. Thinking processes will be explored, as well as patterns of destructive behavior following trauma and other loss.

"As this workshop helps participants to start thinking more clearly, they often realize that they have been exhibiting negative, self-destructive behaviors that negatively affect those around them," said Gail Yaw, Director of Workshops at The Meadows and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. "They then receive help to properly handle their confusing emotions."

Attending a Meadows' workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.

For more information about The Meadows' Grief Workshop and other workshops offered by The Meadows, please contact Heidi Dike-Kingston at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

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 inpatient centers 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 a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog

In my third year of medical school, I was mentored by a brilliant surgeon who routinely pontificated about the virtues of his profession, with clear intent to dissuade me from entering psychiatry. On one such occasion, he disrupted my tense and halting approach at a long abdominal incision with the question: "Do you know what makes a surgeon great?" I looked up from the patient's pale, still body - scalpel still poised. "It's not the suturing; you can teach any monkey how to sew." (That didn't boost my fledgling surgical confidence.) He went on to say, "When you open someone up, it rarely looks like the textbook. It's messy, unpredictable. Great surgeons effectively respond to each new situation as it arises... they adapt."

Although this gifted surgeon didn't dissuade me from the practice of psychiatry, I was persuaded to believe that effective treatment of the body and the mind requires an ability to adapt to each new situation as it arises. Most people enter The Meadows with some idea of their underlying problems and what they want to accomplish in treatment. However, as people give themselves to the recovery process, often the mental and emotional landscape changes in unpredictable ways, presenting new challenges and new opportunities for healing and growth. The following case history highlights the dynamic unfolding of one patient's experience at The Meadows and some of the treatment modalities that were adaptively employed on the patient's behalf.

Susan, as I will call her, was a 32 year-old, single, female from Denver, Colorado who was referred to The Meadows by her outpatient therapist. She initially reported symptoms of anxiety and depression that had contributed to significant problems in her close relationships and work performance as a financial consultant. She identified pervasive feelings of uneasiness and tension, with debilitating spikes of episodic panic and fear. Also, she noticed that her self-confidence was very low and that she was uncharacteristically tearful, emotional, and sad. After discussing her condition at length with her psychiatrist at The Meadows, they both agreed to explore the symptoms further before deciding if a medication was necessary.

Forming relationships of trust with peers and providers allowed Susan to acknowledge that her symptoms of depression and anxiety were partially related to worsening addictive behaviors with alcohol, food, and sex. She admitted to a life-long struggle with binge eating, excessive dieting, and shame about her body. She also shared that, after ending a ten-year, co-dependent romantic relationship in the months prior to admission, she immediately turned to compulsive sexual encounters via phone, internet, and night clubs. With the help of her outpatient therapist, she was able to reduce her sexual acting-out, but she then turned to excessive and reckless use of alcohol. Her life had become unmanageable.

In response to this additional information, Susan was reevaluated by the medical doctor to monitor and treat any symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. She spoke with the dietician so that the treatment team could better understand the nature of her disordered eating patterns and could help her establish an eating and wellness plan. In collaboration with her primary therapist, Susan set clear limits on her use of communication devices and her interactions with fellow peers, so that she could effectively address her compulsive tendency to rely on unhealthy relationships. Susan was also encouraged to attend 12-step meetings and to make use of important mind-body activities, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation.

Although Susan had acknowledged a history of sexual trauma during the intake process, she was unsure of its significance in her life. Starting in the second week of treatment, she participated in a unique five-day experiential form of therapy that specifically addresses childhood trauma and early family relations. For the first time in her life, she began to see how her mother's tragic death at six-years-old led to years of depression and social-withdrawal on the part of her father. She was able to see herself as a scared and lonely child who tried not to worry her already distraught father, even when she was molested by the babysitter at nine-years-old. She discovered that during those lonely years, food was a trusted ally, but by the time she reached her teen-age years, food had become the enemy and she was at war with her own body.

As Susan's second week of treatment came to an end, years of shame, anger, and self-hatred gave way to profound sadness and grief. Long-held defenses began to relax, and as a result, she touched into another source of pain and sorrow connected to a date-rape in her early twenties that resulted in miscarriage. With guidance from peers and providers, she realized that this additional trauma and loss had contributed to soaring alcohol use and plummeting self-worth. In response to Susan's evolving treatment needs, she was offered several visits with an individual therapist trained in Somatic Experiencing to specifically address her adult trauma-related symptoms.  Also, her focused work in 12-step recovery during the third week became more meaningful as she explored further the links between her past trauma and her addictive behaviors.

As a result of many lectures and hands-on practice regarding interpersonal communication and boundaries, Susan felt prepared to engage in family therapy with her father and two sisters during the fourth week of treatment. Relying on the inner-child work from her second week, she was able to talk openly with her family about the bewilderment and loneliness she felt after her mother's death. For the first time in her life, she shared the deep emotional pain associated with her experiences of sexual trauma, her ten-year, unhealthy relationship, and her addictive behaviors. Susan's family members responded with concern, but also with an outpouring of love and acceptance. Together, she and her family received information and practical tools to move forward in a way that could support Susan's recovery and a healthier family system.

As Susan entered her fifth week of treatment, she was invited to participate in a special grief workshop to specifically address lingering feelings of loss and pain regarding her mother's death and her miscarriage. Also, after weekly meetings with her psychiatrist about her particular condition and possible treatment options, she decided to start a medication for symptoms of depression. Several discussions with her providers, discharge coordinators, family, and outpatient therapist resulted in an aftercare plan that fit her therapeutic needs. Susan finished her treatment with a new lease on life - ready to face old challenges and embrace new opportunities.

Of course, there are additional elements of The Meadows' treatment program that are not discussed here and not everyone's experience is like Susan's... but that is the whole point; the human psyche rarely conforms to overly-simplistic, textbook universals and treatment often unfolds in unpredictable and complex ways. As my mentor suggested, this requires that treatment professionals recognize and adaptively respond to situations as they arise. This means that providers must have the appropriate training and therapeutic techniques to effectively respond to the dynamically changing landscape of each person's recovery process. The Meadows has a proven track-record of providing this kind of treatment.

Published in Blog
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