The Meadows Blog

The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host an alumni workshop in Dallas, Texas, for alumni on July 9, 2013, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. by Cole Adams, LCSW, CSAT, will lead the discussion on "Perfectly Imperfect." It will be held at Preston Place at 12700 Preston Road, #140.

Adams is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker and a certified sexual addiction therapist. He received training from Patrick Carnes, considered the foremost leader in sexual addiction, and Pia Mellody, one of the preeminent authorities in the fields of addiction and relationships, and a Senior Fellow and senior clinical adviser for The Meadows Wickenburg. Currently, he is the owner of Bluffview Counseling in Dallas, Texas.

To register and learn more, visit http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1102470. For more information, contact Morgan Day at 800.240.5522 or alumni@themeadows.com.

The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host monthly alumni meetings in Texas and Arizona. Meadows' trained professionals lead these inspirational meetings and focus on topics including renewing the language of The Meadows Model and reclaiming commitment to its principles. The Meadows Model is a therapeutic model that comprehensively addresses trauma resolution.

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.

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Many clients ask professionals "Why have I been plagued with hyper-sexuality?" In other words, they were curious as to understand why  they had become addicted to hyper-sexual behavior?' This question is often asked by drug and alcohol addicts who also wonder why they were plagued with the addiction gene when their siblings did not appear to have similar issues.

Although the field of sexual addiction is a relatively new one, we have research that shows that there are two pathways to sexual addiction. Often times children who have been traumatized as young kids, will in adolescence or adulthood reenact the trauma; in the form of compulsive sexuality. One of the exercises that I give my clients is to look back in their childhoods and identify the small or the big events that traumatized them. That might look like a divorce or a parents abandonment. That might be the result of a child walking in on his parents having sex. That may include a neighbor or family friend molesting him or her. These little "t" or big "T" traumas lay the ground work for the human psyche to continue to replay unconsciously, the scenario over and over again as an adult. It is if the brain becomes psychologically become stuck or locked in the brain as something familiar that creates compulsivity. The trauma results in the development of an arousal template that continues to light up as it is acted adult in adulthood. The good news is that psychologists believe that these behaviors that repetitiously manifest over and over again are opportunities to get the needed help as an adult that the child was unable to get as a child.

John was frequently punished as a child by his father. His father would beat him severely for even the slightest infractions. Despite the abuse and painful exchange of punishment, John became intrigued as an adult when he viewed sadistic and masochistic forms of internet pornography and began to unconsciously play out these fantasies in his sex life. Punishment and sexual excitement became fused together and became the only stimuli that effectively delivered arousal during times of sex. John shared his desires with his wife who was disgusted by the thought of using physical spankings in the bedroom therefore John became even more compulsive with his viewings on the internet. This behavior escalated further and eventually he was secretly going outside of the marriage to get his sexual needs met which added an extra element of secrecy and excitement to his sexual arousal template. In this scenario it is easy to see how John was reenacting the trauma of early childhood beatings into his sexual life. John said that the first time he ever viewed S & M pornography, he felt a familiarity that drew him back to the porn over and over again. It is likely that John experienced suppressed rage about his childhood abuse which he combined with erotica to produce the desire to reenact the trauma. Unfortunately a contributor to sexual addiction is eroticized rage.

A secondary contributor for arousal template development occurs when children's young minds get "brainlocked" after they have seen something that is curious, titillating or even disturbing. Young children who stumble on their parents soft porn magazines, videos or internet sites may develop the compulsion to go back over the material frequently. Their brain development becomes altered when the reward center learns to light up after viewing this material. This material creates the arousal template that maps out sexual excitement in adulthood. With sexual addiction this behavior becomes compulsive and like an addiction, the sex addict spends more and more time, money and energy finding new forms of this sexual material or experience.

If either of these scenarios sound like you it is important to seek help with a certified sexual addictions therapist (CSAT) who can assist you in calming down the brain, and managing the template while you undergo the process of retraining the brain towards healthy sexuality and break the chains of compulsivity and hyper-sexuality.

Neither trauma nor "brainlock" needs to lock you into compulsive behaviors that keep you from engaging in a normal or healthy life!

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. She currently has an internet radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com/sexhelpwithcarolthecoach and does regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one's potential. You can read her blogs at www.carolthecoach.com. To contact Carol about sexual addiction: www.sexhelpwithcarolthecoach.

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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.

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By Cathy Kelley, LCSW, Counselor at The Meadows

John is a 64 year old male who retired early despite the cut in his income (now living at poverty level) and the loss of his medical coverage to avoid dealing with the distress of "having" to work with people he didn't get along with. Conflict with coworkers and bosses has been a theme throughout John's career. John has lived alone since his divorce 18 years ago and he has not dated anyone over the past 18 years. He spends most of his days sleeping. When awake, John listens to music or watches the television. John doesn't answer his door and limits his phone calls to his 90 year old mother who he continues to attempt to get approval from. If you listen to John he is very critical of himself (as was his father towards him) frequently calling himself stupid, dumb, fat, loser, or ugly. John often states that he "hates" people. John believes that life and people have taken advantage of him and that he is powerless to change the outcome because it is his "bad luck" in life. John's cholesterol and blood pressure are high. John buys in excess (more movies, music and model cars then he could see, hear or assemble in his lifetime). John denies that his hopelessness, isolation, excessive sleep, lack of energy, lack of motivation and loss of enjoyment in the things he used to enjoy could be symptoms of depression. Yet, John (who is a real person) truly needs help to get out of the abyss of his depression.

Needless to say, for John or anyone else for that matter to continue to live such an isolated, lonely and unhappy life with the belief that life is simply something that has to be tolerated would be a very sad outcome. John's struggle is but one of many examples why it makes sense for a person to enter treatment later in life. The fact is that growing older does not offer immunity to suffering and what greater loss then the loss of opportunity to have lived life with a sense of contentment over the journey versus pain, suffering and resentment over what was and was not experienced. As the saying goes "life is not a dress rehearsal." We get one shot at this life and do you really want to reach the end of your life filled with regret and remorse, knowing the opportunities to live life differently are gone? Or worse yet, do you want to throw away the opportunity to experience inner peace and healing because you are "too old?"

It is not easy dealing with all the age related issues of being an older adult. We often are faced with the illness and or death of our parents, friends or spouse. Our children are usually grown by this time living their own lives which can be joyful or distressing based on how well they are doing as adults and how much we depended on our role as a parent as part of our identity, purpose and value. We can be facing a number of health issues from fairly minor to life threatening. Careers are often winding down or ending. Retirement may not seem to be all it was cracked up to be. Again, if we have felt we found our purpose, identity and value through our careers it can be a set up to begin to feel worthless when our career is over. We become aware that time is limited and that we don't have forever to figure it out.

So, why would you consider entering treatment at this stage of life? When there is a never ending list of reasons you can come up with of why it's not a good idea to go inpatient such as you can't change, you're spending part of your kids' inheritance, this is as good as it gets, you have vacation plans, you want to sleep in your own bed, it's not that bad, your family depends on you to be there for them, or your just "too old" to name a few of the rationales often given.

The truth of the matter is no matter what age you are it takes courage to come into treatment and people typically do not make such a choice when their life is going in the direction they would like it to be going. It is far more likely to happen when everything you have tried is not working, there is a real possibility that you could lose your job, family, or friends, the pain of life continuing as is feels worse than the fear of entering treatment or the negative outcomes have become too high a price to continue to pay.

For the older population, what is known is that there are greater risks involved when you become sick or injured and that at any age emotional well being effects physical well being and vise versa. One example of this is that people are three times more likely to develop depression after a heart attack and that one in three people who have had a stroke develop depression. In addition, the depression increases the risk of a second heart attack or death from a heart attack or stroke. A second example of how our emotions and health are correlated is the impact that stress can have on the body. Research clearly shows that stress can create several medical problems i.e. raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, produce muscle atrophy, elevate blood sugar, place excessive demands on the heart, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, kill certain brain cells, speed up the aging process and shorten life spans. In addition, when stress is chronic it can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to cancer, infection, diseases, ulcers, asthma, anxiety and depression.

The body in essence is attacking itself with the surge of biochemicals ( dopamine, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and cortisol (which can lead to bone loss, brain cell death and immunosuppression ) that stress activates. Unfortunately, the body does not distinguish between real and perceived danger. So whether you are running for your life or creating catastrophes in your mind your body is responding in the same way with a biochemical dump. Now add such things as alcohol, drugs, trauma, or grief, on top of anxiety or depression and it is fairly easy to see how your life can become seriously compromised.

If you have been struggling, there is a rhyme and reason to the obstacles that have been blocking your way to joy, peace and happiness. However, your life experiences do not define who you are but more what conclusions you have come to about yourself and life in response to what you have been told, witnessed or viscerally experienced. Your life experiences make sense out of the nonsense of how your thoughts and behaviors can become so off course with the facts or even self-sabotaging such as overspending, taking on too many projects, never saying no, having affairs etc. The truth (data) and your experience may not fit together such as being told as a child it's your fault your parent was unhappy or angry or that you were unplanned, a disappointment or worthless. The experience (what you heard, saw or felt) is real but the message is misguided (you are lovable, you have value and worth and you are perfectly imperfect - better known as human) and in all likelihood the messages and behaviors you experienced as a child were similar to the experiences your parents or caregivers received in their childhood. It is what is familiar and known and in all likelihood will continue into each new generation until there is additional information and options. Family systems typical will not know how to do it differently or that there are other ways of communicating, feeling, coping, loving or being relational with self or others without adequate data and though many of us have said "I will never..." we frequently find ourselves repeating the words or actions that we swore we would "never do."

Remember today you have a choice on the quality of your life experiences and whether you spend the rest of your life with joy and happiness or pain and suffering. It is never too late to reclaim your authentic self and to heal old wounds. None of us get a free pass from our history and time alone is not the healer of all wounds. It takes courage, desire and effort to interrupt old negative thoughts and behaviors, to identify the lies you may have told yourself about who you are and to reconnect and release painful experiences. However, it is much easier than living in the depths of despair, addiction and fear.

If you have taken on the role of judge and jury over the outcome of your life - Stop! Do not impose or accept a life sentence of suffering (this is based on a distorted belief of self and or life). Life was not designed to be endured it was designed to be embraced and you were not created to be tortured or to rescue the world. You were created to be uniquely you. You can continue to suffer until death (old message) or you can take a leap of faith in yourself and life (the truth) that your senior years have much more to offer than loneliness, regret, resentment or pain. You can find peace and healing if you are willing to embrace, explore, release and accept the truth of who you are in the presence of all you have experienced and what you have and have not done in your life. Age is not a viable reason to neglect your physical, spiritual and mental well being. It is the exact opposite.

Resources from the following websites: Mayo Clinic, University of Maryland, U.S. News Health

Cathy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California and Arizona. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services and a Master's Degree in Social Work with a sub-concentration in severe and persistent mental illness. Cathy has worked as a counselor at The Meadows for several years. Cathy's areas of experience and passion are trauma reduction work, addiction, mood disorders, and relational issues. Cathy has over twenty years' experience facilitating groups and has been trained in EMDR.

Published in Blog

By: Bill Blundell

As a therapist who works with children, it is common to work with children who are experiencing the loss of a parent or caregiver because they have moved to a treatment center for addictions. Living in Central Illinois, the options are limited when it comes to inpatient treatment, so many times the loved one attends treatment out of the area, such as The Meadows. This can become even more troublesome for the youth who is going through this experience.

The children of a parent/caregiver in treatment often times children experience varying levels of anxiety. Much of the anxiety is attached to the unknown. Not knowing what the outcome of treatment is going to be, will their parent/caregiver be a different person after coming home or will they ever get to see their parent/caregiver. For children who have a loved one near them in treatment, they can possibly visit on a regular basis for a couple hours. This does help alleviate some anxiety but it adds new anxiety of the simple fact they are seeing their loved one for a short time but know they will not be coming home with them.

At times it is imperative for the child(ren) of a loved one to receive therapy services while treatment is happening for the adult in the situation. It gives the child an opportunity to speak how they are truly feeling through this experience. Many times children do not want to be a burden on the parent/caregiver who is not at the treatment center, because they are aware of how stress the process can be for everyone. This becomes problematic for the child because they suppress their feelings. The result of suppressing to many feelings often results in a negative action. Many times with kids, this action presents itself in the form of anger.

It is important for children to learn the appropriate ways to deal with their emotions and in turn the appropriate ways for them to express said emotions. Sometimes the children in the matter feel as if they do not have a voice. With that said, they tend to keep things to themselves in fear of upsetting someone, especially the parent/caregiver who was in treatment and has since returned home. Children need to be encouraged to speak their minds when they are going through an experience such as having a loved one taking part in an inpatient treatment program.

One of the best ways to help any child in this situation is to find a professional counselor who will be a listening ear and provide feedback to the child. Learning ways to handle the stress and anxiety of having a loved one in treatment is something that can be provided by a professional counselor as well. Simple mindfulness techniques can be introduced in ongoing counseling to help keep the child calm in an otherwise chaotic situation. Also, utilizing groups such as Al Anon or Alateen is beneficial for children and adolescents to help them understand what is happening with their loved one and get a better understanding of how it affects the family as a whole.

Bill Blundell is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and also a Certified Forensic Consultant working in Peoria, IL, at the Antioch Group, a private practice.  Bill specializes in working with anxiety disorders in both children and adults.

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