The Meadows Blog

John Bradshaw, one of the most influential writers on emotional healing in the twentieth century and a Senior Fellow at The Meadows Wickenburg, will be featured on HoustonPBS on August 19 at 9:00 p.m. and August 25 at 5:00 p.m. 

The title of the program is "Bradshaw on Bradshaw: An InnerVIEWS Special." Television host, Ernie Manouse, sits down with Bradshaw to discuss his life and work, from the dysfunctional family to the wounded inner child.

For more information regarding this program, visit

Bradshaw is a world-famous educator, counselor, motivational speaker, television personality, author and one of the leading figures in the fields of addiction, recovery, family systems and the concept of toxic shame. Bradshaw has had a long and productive association with The Meadows; giving insights to staff, patients, speaking at alumni retreats and lecturing to mental health professionals at our workshops and seminars. Mr. Bradshaw's work has influenced the treatment programs at The Meadows and Mellody House.

Selected by his peers as one of the 100 most influential writers on emotional health in the 20th Century, Bradshaw has literally changed the lives of millions of people around the globe through his best-selling books and sold-out workshops and seminars. Over the years, Bradshaw has written several New York Times bestselling books, including, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Creating Love and Healing the Shame That Binds You. In 2009 Bradshaw was nominated for The Pulitzer Prize for Reclaiming Virtue.

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 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
Sunday, 11 August 2013 20:00

What is EFT?

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

This article will introduce the EFT therapy technique. In this article, you will learn what EFT is and how it is used at The Meadows to enhance therapy.

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. Emotional Freedom Technique is basically acupuncture without needles! EFT uses light tapping with your fingertips on designated points on your face and body. Tapping is combined with stating an identified problem/issue followed by an affirmation phrase. Tapping can balance energy meridians in our body that were disrupted through trauma. Trauma, as defined at The Meadows, is anything that was/is less than nurturing. Trauma can range from neglect and abandonment to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Using EFT helps to balance the energy system and to relieve psychological stress and pain. Balancing energy allows the body and mind to heal. EFT is safe and easy to apply to a myriad of issues we may struggle with. The benefit of EFT is that it can create lasting changes in thinking and lead to a more balanced and positive life. EFT is easy to learn and can be done with a therapist or by yourself

Why do we offer EFT at The Meadows? EFT is an adjunct therapy that helps with the many reasons that people come to The Meadows. Past trauma, putting alcohol or drugs into your body, engaging in high intensity issues such as gambling or sexual addiction reverses the positive flow of energy in your body. When we experience these issues in our life, it is like we have put the battery into our body in the wrong way. Using EFT tapping re-sets the battery and puts the battery in the right way. Tapping can change the biochemistry of the body. The result of continued tapping on trauma and addiction issues is emotional freedom!

In dealing with trauma, addictions, and intensity issues, it is recommended that EFT is used with a therapist who has been trained in EFT. In fact, it is strongly recommended that EFT is first practiced with an EFT trained therapist before doing EFT by yourself. At The Meadows, we utilize therapist-assisted EFT to help patients with specific issues. Therapists trained in EFT will take patients through the "Tell the Story" technique in order to lead patients through issues they need to work on. The "Tell the Story" technique helps patients work through carried emotions that have caused a disruption in the body's energy system. The EFT trained therapist will work with patients on specific events and tap through intense events and issues.

By working on the specific events and tapping through intense events and issues, patients will be able to balance themselves in the Core Issues. Patients will begin to realize their inherent worth. Patients will develop more functional boundaries. Patients will begin to understand the reality of their humanity and realize they are human and perfectly imperfect. Patients will show a better understanding of their needs and wants and learn to be interdependent. Patients will learn how to balance themselves, so they can live in moderation in all areas of their life.


Emotional Freedom Technique


How does someone use EFT on themselves? If we have an issue that does not require therapy, we can tap on ourselves to bring about emotional freedom from that issue. I will take you through a sample EFT exercise. First, let's look at the tapping points of EFT in the diagram above.

Before we go through the sample exercise, let's look at the sequence of tapping. In order to balance our energy, there is a recommended sequence for tapping. Here is the recommended sequence:

  • Karate chop
  • Top of head
  • Eyebrow
  • Side of Eye
  • Under Eye
  • Under Nose
  • Chin
  • Collarbone
  • Under arm
  • Then repeat as you continue tapping the issue away...

Now, we are ready to go through a sample exercise. EFT requires going through a sequence of steps. These are:

  1. Choose the target issue you want to work on.

  2. Rate the intensity of the issues on a scale of 0 - 10, with 10 being the highest.

  3. Choose a reminder statement. The reminder statement is the statement that states what you have an intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) about. At the end of the statement, add the affirmation: "I still deeply and completely accept myself."

  4. Say this statement 2 times while doing the karate chop (tapping on the side of the hand point).

  5. Tap on the other points 5-10 times lightly, starting at the top of your head, using the reminder phrase and checking for any discomfort.

  6. Rate your intensity level (the 0 - 10 scale) and note any change.

  7. Repeat steps 4 - 6 until the discomfort is down to a 0 - 1 rating.

  8. When you have successfully taken your discomfort to a 0 -1, you have successfully relieved your intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) around this issue.

For instance, if your issue is your worry about money, your reminder statement might be: "Even though I feel anxious about money," with the added affirmation, "I still deeply and completely accept myself." When you are ready to begin the tapping, you would recite the entire phrase, "Even though I feel anxious about money, I still deeply and completely accept myself." Then, take yourself through the above steps. As you are tapping on each of the points, you can shorten the phrase, so you are not saying the entire phrase for each tapping point. For instance, when you tap on your eyebrow, you can simply say: "anxious," then moving to the side of your eye, you can say, "money." As you move through the remainder of the tapping points, you can incorporate the rest of the reminder statement; under eye, "deeply and completely," under nose; "accept myself." You can continue tapping this way, with shorter phrases that make up the complete reminder statement, until you move your discomfort down to 0 or 1. Then, you might want to go through one more round with the complete reminder statement and re-rate your discomfort to insure you truly are at 0 or 1 with your discomfort around the issue.

Tapping can be done on ourselves with any emotion, any block or belief that we no longer want to hold onto. We can tap when we are angry at a loved one; "Even though, I am angry that ____ yelled at me, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap when we have had a bad day; "Even though, I have had a bad day, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap for leaving our pet while we go on extended vacation; "Even though I feel guilt for leaving Fido while I go on vacation, I still deeply and completely accept myself." You have probably noticed that the affirmation stays the same no matter what the reminder statement is. This is important to disrupt the carried emotions and re-charge our body's energy into a positive direction and to restore the naturally recurring flow of the human body.

EFT is a great technique to use for self-care and to help balance yourself.  For people suffering with trauma and addictions, balancing with EFT can help; although the memory may stay, the emotional charge will be gone. For every day issues, we can resolve the issue and move on to be more balanced throughout the day. EFT leads to positive changes in thinking and a more balanced life.


The EFT Manual by Gary Craig   On this website, you might want to check out information about The Personal Peace Procedure and further information about Gary Craig, the founder of EFT.

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
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:00

The Internet and Our Children’s Safety

By: Cole Adams, LCSW, CSAT

I can remember back to the first time I saw pornography. I was walking home from school in the first grade and found a single page from Playboy. I took the page home and hid it in the bathroom. I felt so much shame about having it, but at the same time was compelled to keep it so that I could look at it again.

This week my children graduated from kindergarten and the term first grade was mentioned. I was immediately reminded of my experience that day walking home from school and a huge knot formed in my stomach. My children are entering the age when I was first exposed to pornography.

No parent that I know wants to think that their child might view porn. Current research shows us that the average age of exposure to porn is now eight years old. Prior to the Internet, the average age of exposure to porn was age 11-13. The ease and access of the Internet and digital media has created a tremendous problem for our society and our children.

Recently a dad, whom I respect very much, came to me because he was very concerned on what to do with his five-year-old son. That morning, he walked into his living room and found his son watching hardcore pornography. Apparently, his son had learned to use the remote and was trying to watch Scooby Doo. At that time on his cable company's pay-per-view was a hardcore porn film titled "Scooby Doo: A XXX Parody (Video 2011)". His son had clicked this title looking to watch "Scooby Doo and the Gang" and was traumatized for life. That child will never forget the images he saw that day. I still remember the images that I saw at age six. This father called the cable company and they walked him through setting up parental controls on his cable box. They would not discuss the absurdity of the porn that they had on their network. This type of event is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what our children are possibly exposed to on a daily basis.

Children today are being exposed to porn that is much more graphic and damaging to their mental health than in previous generations. The problem that we are facing has been labeled as a tsunami by Patrick Carnes, a leader in the field of sexual addiction research. Children have access to smart phones, satellite, cable, iPads, computers, and many other forms of instant free access to pornography. Many times these forms of media and communication are totally unfiltered and unmonitored. Not only is viewing pornography a possible option for our children, but interactivity and exhibitionism are common. It is now possible to download apps that will allow you to find and interact with someone who wants to act out sexually near you. This app will tell you what type of sexual experience this person wants to experience and how many feet/miles they are away from you. Kids are currently sexting nude pictures of themselves and others via their smart phones. Kids are under the false impression that there is anonymity and safety on the Internet. It could not be further from the truth. Once pictures and information are out on the web, it is virtually impossible to have it completely removed.

What can we do to help our kids? We cannot protect our kids from the world. I believe that our kids are going to see pornography. I also believe that we can do our best as parents to protect our kids as much as possible in our own home. For instance, I believe that every device at home should be filtered and monitored. Cable/Satellite should be password protected and set at an appropriate age limit for your kids. For all forms of Internet access, there should be software that is placed on all computers, laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc.  This software should serve two purposes. First, it should serve as a blocker. A blocker will do its best to block all sites that are adult related. Software companies have improved dramatically over the years, but they are not fool proof, porn sites are introduced daily and it is difficult for the blockers to keep up. Second, the software should monitor all activity that is done on each device including all sites that are visited and all searches made and provide a report to us, the parents. On iPads and smart phones, this same software should be installed and the ability to download apps should be controlled by a password that only the parent can administer. There are multiple software companies that have such products. The one that I would suggest is  Covenant Eyes is compatible with PC, Macs, iPhones, and iPads. If you have children or young adults, I would highly recommend taking time to research the software that suits your family best. I would also suggest that all forms of Internet access be kept in common areas of the house, not in the child's room. If you determine to allow Internet access in their room, I would also suggest that all electronics are left in the main area of the house at bed time and that it is understood that either parent has complete access to their phones, computers, and other devices.

To some this may seem like an invasion of privacy, but anything that is put out on the Internet is no longer private. As a practitioner working in the field of sex addiction, I see daily the catastrophic impact that pornography and sexual acting out have on individuals and families. I am happy for my children to have a hand written journal of their own, that I promise to never read, but if they feel the need to put something out into the world via the Internet, I have access too.

Cole Adams is the Owner of Bluffview Counseling Cole is psychotherapist, a licensed social worker (LCSW), and a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). Bluffview Counseling specializes in working with individuals who struggle with sex addiction and pornography addiction, the partners who have been affected, and the couples that want to heal. We also specialize in working with individuals who struggle with chemical dependency, love addiction, sex and love addiction, and codependency.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 23 July 2013 20:00

“Can a horse feel love?”

A question posed by a group member during an Equine Therapy session.

By: Ann M. Taylor, Equine Specialist at The Meadows

We hear all sorts of questions at Equine; some of them make you stop and think. Either you simply don’t know the answer or because you want to be sure that you’re giving the most accurate information. This question however never required a second thought.

"Of course they can!"

The first time we had the privilege of working with RC was eye opening. As I led him out of the stall I was told by a fellow Equine staff that "RC really loves deeply". Looking at him I tried to see what she saw. In the breeze way stood this older, rough looking horse that seemed to me to have seen his best days and none of them were this year, or the year before. Branded on his left rear quarter a large letter R and on the right a large letter C. Hence the name "RC".

RC has a disease called Cushing's that affects his pituitary gland. A symptom of Cushing's is that he can't shed his winter coat. So, being summer, he was sporting a body clip. It was similar to something you may see after your youngest gets hold of dads beard trimmer. His eyes looked dead tired and I was not even sure he would make it down the hill to the round pen.

He sighed heavy as we walked down the hill and he managed three breaks before we were at the round pen gate. He eased his way through the gate and closing it behind him I was genuinely concerned that RC may not be the horse for the job. Although the activity was pretty easy for a horse I doubted that he had enough life in him to really be effective during a session.

The group arrived and checked in. The whole time RC stood with his nose against the fence dozing in the shade occasionally his tail would toss to one side or the other. He reminded me of an old weathered frame of a house gently blowing back and forth in the soft breeze, and I wondered if he may decide to just collapse under his own weight right there.

When the group was ready we opened the round pen gate and they went inside. Lazy eyes opened and considered the group from across the pen. Idle brown ears now perked up and watched the group with intent. He turned to face them completely and there was LIFE! What was a geriatric case of a horse shifted into a curiously intent and animated creature. He rubbed up against the members of the group and took time to explore each person.

The entire session his eyes only asked one question "What do you need?". He stood closely behind a group member in strong silent support as they shared around a difficult topic. He pressed his head gently into another Participant who struggled with intimacy. I watched this horse decide what each person needed and then be that for them. There was no doubt that RC LOVED the people in that group, and every group for the rest of the week. Over and over we were amazed at how he could identify just exactly what someone needed in the moment.

When the group would end RC would watch them leave through the gate. That big brown head would drop back down and there was that old house frame blowing in the wind again. At the end of the first day there were smiles, laughter, Ah Ha moments and some tears. It was a good day. When everyone was gone I slipped the halter over his graying muzzle and scratched his neck. Once again I was worried that the walk up the hill to the barn might be too much for him. Opening the gate I could hear his old hips pop as he moved that heavy frame out of the round pen.

Suddenly there was an unexpected tension on the rope. Spinning around, I found myself staring at RC's rump as HE led ME up the hill! I could have skied behind him! That was the best laugh of the week.

So can a horse love? I don't think there is anyone better who can teach us about love than an old brown horse.

Special thanks to Philly and Cindy at Remuda Equine for your willingness to share the gifts that you call horses.

Published in Blog

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

Have you ever driven someplace in your car and then couldn't remember the entire drive or what you passed along the way? That's an example of not being mindful that many people can experience daily. It's the same routine and you place yourself on auto-pilot, not noticing what you are doing or what is going on around you. In this article, we will explore the art of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to what you are doing and what is going on around you.  Mindfulness is about living with openness and experiencing possibilities by paying attention to the present moment. When we practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and function in a more balanced way. Practicing mindfulness helps us to gain insight into ourselves and the environment around us. Practicing mindfulness helps us treat our relationships with patience, respect, and kindness.

How do we start to develop mindfulness? There are many qualities to incorporate in our lives to live in mindfulness. We will consider 4 of the most important qualities of mindfulness. These are

  • Non-conceptual - Mindfulness is awareness without being tied into the thought process - just being aware and noticing. You might be aware of your own body and how you are feeling.  You might be aware of the environment around you. Is the sun shining? Is there a breeze in the air? What noises do you hear in the present moment?
  • Present-Centered - Mindfulness is always about being in the present moment. Ask yourself: Am I in the present right this moment? Am I present when I am eating, talking, listening, driving...?
  • Non-judgmental - Mindfulness means being aware and observing without judging. Can I accept things as they are in the present moment?
  • Intentional - Intention is one of the most important elements of mindfulness. Mindfulness always includes an intention. What is my intention in the present moment?

There are many benefits of Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has been found to decrease medical conditions and psychological issues. Much research has been done to show that being mindful and using mindfulness decreases psoriasis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure and asthma. Psychological benefits of practicing mindfulness include:

  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Decreased panic
  • Increased self-awareness and acceptance

One of the most important benefits of practicing mindfulness is decreasing stress. When we decrease stress, we can decrease medical and psychological issues and increase our general well-being. There are five steps to a mindful approach to life which can be applied to every aspect of life.   These steps are:

  1. STOP - Take a step back.

  2. BREATHE - Take a deep breath in and out and reconnect with the present moment.

  3. PAY ATTENTION - Be aware of what is going on with you and your environment, so you can see clearly.

  4. Consciously RESPOND - Use an intention for how you want to respond in a way that shows respect for yourself and for others.

  5. OBSERVE consequences - The consequences may be positive or negative. The consequences will be a benefit in choosing how you want to approach similar situations as they arise.

One way to practice mindfulness is through mindfulness meditation. A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and a renowned Zen master, sums up how meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand: "Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do."

John Kabat-Zinn states that mindfulness is about attention and awareness in anything we are doing. The practice of mindfulness includes not only mindfulness meditation, yet the actions we take in every day life. Kabat Zinn warns us that mindfulness is not a cure-all or magical solution to life's problems. It is up to us to choose our path and chart our course.  Mindfulness provides a simple, yet powerful path for getting us in touch with our wisdom and vitality. When we follow this path, we can improve our lives and our relationships.

Like the title of this article states, mindfulness can be a part of everyday life; eating, talking, driving, spending and living. Let's consider each of these areas of everyday life.

  • Eating - How many times have you eaten your lunch quickly to get back to work? Have you ever just eaten and then minutes later not even realized what you ate? Mindfulness reminds you to pay attention to what you put in our mouth - the texture, the smell, the taste of the tiny morsels as they hit your tongue. Ask yourself: "Am I eating nutritious food?"
  • Talking - Can you think of a time that you said something and then regretted it seconds later? Have you ever spoken to someone and seen a look of confusion on the listener's face? When you are talking, are you paying attention to the words you are using and to who your audience is? What does your tone of voice and body language say? Mindfulness reminds us to speak in a respectful way, sharing to be known in a way that the listener can respond in a respectful way.
  • Driving - The example at the beginning of this article speaks to mindful driving. I know that I have often driven on auto-pilot and been surprised when I arrived at my destination, wondering how I got there! When you are driving have you removed distractions in order to be present-centered and enjoy the drive? These distractions can be the cell phone, the radio, conversations with other people in the car... For different people, different radio stations will lead to distractions. For me, it is a sports radio station. If the sportscasters are speaking about something I strongly disagree with or strongly agree with, I can get excited and forget to pay attention to my driving. What radio station is it for you?

  • Shopping - Think about a shopping trip you have gone on; a time you decided to treat yourself to a shopping spree. After the shopping spree, did you have buyer's guilt? This happens when we are not mindful in our spending. When you go on shopping trip, are you mindful of your budget? An idea is to leave your credit cards at home and just take the cash you are allowing yourself to spend. This is tough for most people, yet the benefits are that you will be able to treat yourself and not have "buyer's guilt" later!

  • Living mindfully - All this leads to mindful living. When we pay attention patiently and with the concept of acceptance, we can lead a more peaceful, stress-free life. Mindfulness helps us to live our lives more fully, moment by moment. How will you be mindful today?

Let's explore how mindfulness relates to recovery. Mindfulness is an integral part of recovery. Addiction, depression, and anxiety can all be looked at as dis-eases; they all are a suffering. Incorporating the Four Insights, by Terese Jacobs-Stewart into our recovery process can be a source of comfort and relief.

The First Insight - Suffering: Suffering is an intrinsic part of life. Life serves up one form or another. It is not anyone's fault; it just is. We face the truth of the First Step of the Twelve Steps by admitting we are powerless and that by continuing to deny and try to manage our addictions, depression, anxiety... makes our lives unmanageable. For addicts, addiction and codependency are the First Insight. For others, the First Insight may have to do with change, depression, anxiety, illness, loss or death.

The Second Insight - Our response to suffering: The second reality that we have in internal response to the suffering we encounter. For every external event, we have an internal reaction. Our responses may compound the suffering that already exists when we numb with drugs or alcohol, when we blame, when we try to manage and control our addiction or depression. We may choose to become rigorously honest and use mindfulness to develop greater self-awareness and self-control.

The Third Insight - Transforming our response: We are not doomed to be stuck! We do not have to keep suffering. We can change our internal responses to the things we cannot control. An ongoing practice of mindfulness and meditation can change our brain chemistry. We must be willing to deeply engage in mindfulness, spirituality and to welcome change.

The Fourth Insight - A Path to Transformation: The fourth insight is that there truly is a path out of suffering. This path is about continuing practices of mindfulness, meditation and ethical living. The Twelve Steps give us steps to follow that are similar to mindfulness practice.

So, honor yourself by practicing mindfulness. This will help you open a new foundation for building the life you want. With mindfulness, you can face day to day situations with a new vision of who you are. Be gentle with yourself. Cultivating mindfulness takes time and patience. Mindfulness can lead to a realization of your basic nature, your true greatness and your potential.

For further information about Mindfulness, you might consider these books:

Wherever You Go, There You Are -; John Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living -; John Kabat Zinn

Cultivating Lasting Happiness: A 7 Step Guide to Mindfulness - Terry Fralich

Peace in Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life; - Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness -; Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness and the Twelve Steps - Terese Jacobs-Stewart

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

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