The Meadows Blog

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, was recently mentioned is an interesting article in the Contra Costa Times. The article was a review of a conference at UCLA where Dr. van der Kolk presented. Dr. van der Kolk discussed what trauma is "doing to America's youth." The writer described this conference focusing on trauma and brain science as "fascinating." To read this article, go to:

Published in Blog
Sunday, 27 March 2011 20:00

Introducing Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW

The Meadows is pleased to introduce Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW, as its new Coordinator of Counseling Services. Michael has extensive experience working in the fields of addiction and trauma. He served as a primary, workshop, and weekend/evening counselor from 2002 to 2006 at The Meadows. He also co-facilitated PIT training with Pia Mellody. After leaving The Meadows, he had the opportunity to work for a Department of Defense contractor; while treating PTSD in active duty members of our armed forces, he used The Meadows' Model as a framework. Michael also has worked with individuals and families in his private practice in Phoenix.

Note from Michael:

I am very excited to be returning to The Meadows as Coordinator of Counseling Services. I have a strong belief in The Meadows' program and its efficacy in helping people heal their wounds. I believe that developmental immaturity drives all addictions and compulsive behaviors. It is with great pleasure that I do this work every day with a skilled team of clinicians.

As Coordinator of Counseling Services, I have the opportunity to work with primary and family counselors, as well as directly with patients. Another key component of my position is to ensure communication with referring professionals. As a prior referent of The Meadows, I am well-aware of the importance of thorough communication between counseling staff and referent.

Published in Blog

For immediate release:
Feb. 14, 2011
Wickenburg, Arizona


The Meadows is pleased to announce the naming of Jerry Boriskin, PhD, CAS, as Senior Fellow.

Dr. Boriskin is an author, lecturer, and clinician widely known for his ground breaking work in the fields of trauma, PTSD, and addictive disorders. He was a pioneer in extending the continuum of care and developed two extended residential treatment programs for co-occurring disorders. A passionate advocate for integrated treatment, he possessed a vision that predated the ongoing movement toward specialized and integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders, particularly those involving trauma.

In addition to his groundbreaking work with The Meadows, Dr. Boriskin is the author of “PTSD and Addiction: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Counselors.” and co-authored, “At Wit’s End: What Families Need to Know When A Loved One is Diagnosed with Addiction and Mental Illness.”

Jim Dredge, CEO of The Meadows, said, "we are fortunate indeed to have Dr. Boriskin as a member of The Meadows' team. Thanks to his hard work and dedication, The Meadows is at the forefront of the treatment of co-occurring disorders and trauma."

The Meadows, with rehab treatment centers in Arizona and Texas, has been a leader in the treatment of addiction, trauma and recovery since 1976.

Contact: Nancy Koplow, Director Of Marketing, The Meadows.  Phone: 800-632-3697

Dr. Boriskin is an author, lecturer, and clinician with expertise in trauma, PTSD, and addictive disorders. He began his career in 1979 when PTSD emerged as a diagnosis. He transitioned to the private sector in the mid-1980s, working with sexual abuse survivors and addicts. He is a licensed psychologist and addiction specialist who recently resumed working with warriors at the V.A. of Northern California. He has authored PTSD and Addiction: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Counselors and co-authored At Wit's End: What Families Need to Know When A Loved One is Diagnosed with Addiction and Mental Illness.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 19:00

Notes From Tucson

Notes From Tucson

Debra L. Kaplan

It was a sad day in Tucson, Arizona, as a lone gunman made a foiled assassination attempt on the state's Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords while she was conducting a meet-and-greet at a local supermarket. On that Saturday, January 8th Tucsonans and the greater nation became aware of the tragedy as the day unfolded. As the events became known we learned that 19 people were shot and six people were left dead.

The lingering question for most people is, "Why- why did this happen?" That answer or a variation of the truth may remain unsolved. However, the answer, with or without the facts is that an unstable mind coupled with aggression can be, and in this case was, a dangerous coefficient.

The fallout from this devastation will linger, certainly for the lives of those affected. On a broader scale, however, the damage remains with the potential for secondary trauma as we look on from the sidelines and are left to ponder our own lives and human fragility.

In the days since this tragic event I have noticed a strong need for people to share their thoughts and feelings on the topic. Regardless of their political or personal persuasion, one thing is clear to me. As communities lay witness to these events both within our own backyards and around the nation's landscape, I see signs of psychological distress due to the increasing frequency of senseless violence against others and our loved ones.

In the helping profession we know this to be vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma (or secondary trauma) is a trauma response that results from the cumulative effect of contact with and exposure to survivors of violence or disaster. This can occur over a period of time with delay after days, months or years of direct or indirect contact. Those of us who work with and treat psychological trauma know that we are vulnerable to this condition and therefore, take steps toward increasing self care on a regular basis.

So it comes as no surprise to me that as our society is increasingly exposed to acts of violence certain individuals who already struggle with their own internal distress, inch that much closer to an inability to cope. Still, for others who are on the cusp of emotional fragility, their ability to stay functional might become greatly compromised as a result of an event or a series of events such as this and move toward an emotional unraveling.

One's ability to handle a traumatic experience(s) is not formulaic. Further, no two individuals will respond nor manage the distress in quite the same way. For some, violent acts such as this, will elicit a healthy call-to-action in the service of political or social change. For others these events might induce an emotional decompensation rendering them emotionally unable to function as before.
In the aftermath of a crisis or crises, an already fragile emotional structure is likely to become more vulnerable to the duress and re-experience an old, but, unresolved traumatic response. As the unresolved and underlying trauma is triggered, the response in the here and now can be physiological, psychological or emotional in nature. A few of those moderate signs and symptoms include: sadness, anxiety, social withdrawal, increased signs of depression, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, and anxiety to name a few.

Just how an individual copes is based on several factors; their internal strengths, available family/social support, and/or learned coping skills. Those individuals who have worked through their grief and loss due to trauma will have an easier time moving forward past an event. That event becomes a momentary pause versus a roadblock beyond which one is unable to move. When an individual continues to struggle with unresolved trauma they could have a strong identification with current crisis such as the shooting event in Tucson. Others' grief and loss becomes the catalyst for a re-experiencing of one's old trauma wounding.

For those that are struggling with this event or others that are traumatic I encourage self care in the following ways:

  • Seek support from your identified support system whether that be family or friends.
  • Attend 12-step groups to ensure ongoing sobriety for those in recovery.
  • Make mindful connections to the positive influences in your world.
  • Remember your personal connection with others and the love and support that your presence in their life brings.
  • Be of service to individuals who are in need. Giving of one self helps ensure an empathic connection in a time of need, both to your self and to others.

Last, it is always important to remember that reaching out for professional help when or if it is needed is an act of courage and strength. It takes a strong person to reach out for help and present oneself the gift of compassion, love and support.

Published in Blog

By Jerry Boriksin, PhD

The logic is easy but seems to elude the most brilliant of minds: Some complicated conditions require multiple approaches delivered skillfully and in the proper sequence. A single solution, no matter how powerful, tends to fail when up against sufficient intensity and complexity. To put this into simpler language: If a tornado leveled your home, you wouldn't rebuild by simply calling a plumber. You would need to call in a team of craftspeople - in the right sequence - in order to repair the damage. Calling in the roofer before restoring the walls would be absurd.

Individuals who have sustained severe emotional damage or multiple traumas, or who had their foundations damaged by early childhood neglect or abuse, tend not to do well with singular, well-intended, or even well-delivered therapeutic approaches. Repeated attempts and failures reinforce the hopelessness and futility that are central to the inner beliefs of those who suffer. Essentially, they believe they are broken beyond repair. This is what we refer to as nihilism (i.e., "I am hopeless and there is no meaning, no escape... nothing will work"). The result is often a resumption of self-medicating: indulging in drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior, bad relationships, etc. Addiction is a frequent cohort of pain, futility, and hopelessness.

Researchers have been trying for decades to develop singular, powerful treatments for the cure of PTSD. Whereas the treatments are better, even the best treatment techniques fail when facing complex PTSD with co-occurring conditions. Very often, immersion in a safe, sane environment is needed in order to gain some traction. This is why we often need a higher level of care to start the process of rebuilding.

The very first foundations are:

1. Sobriety

2. Restored sleep cycle. Once this foundation is secure, additional techniques can be employed. However, it is important to recognize that we are dealing with complex problems. We need multiple approaches - delivered skillfully, cooperatively, and rationally - with several specialty artists who can work comfortably with the necessary complexity, honesty, and skill.

While science has helped and will help us further, no magic, medicine, or technique will rebuild the damage inflicted by severe childhood abuse, war, and subsequent disasters. We need to utilize a team with a wide range of tools and skills. We need to embrace the complexity, rather than deny its reality. So, sobriety first, sleep second; then the rebuilding can begin. Do not minimize how much structural work is needed; almost any building can be rebuilt, but it requires a team with many disciplines and several tools, all used in a synthetic, not simplistic, fashion.

Published in Blog

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