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.

Published in Blog

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.

Published in Blog

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
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:00

Casper

By Ann M. Taylor, Equine Specialist for The Meadows

Breed: Running Quarter
Color: Gray
Age: 18

Have you ever met a person who you intuitively knew you just wanted to know better?  They have that heavy weight of wisdom earned by walking those long miles of life, someone with so much to offer but who hides behind walls?

I know a horse like that.

He is a horse that would make any rider look good. At one point in his life he was a professional dressage horse, with an extended trot that is a delight and a rhythmic cadence. The kind of horse an up-and- coming would delight in until their talent surpassed his endurance and they found a brighter prospect. Years of professional performance work and lack of a steady riding partner have affected Casper. He has a very hard time with intimacy. Ask him to do a task and he is more than willing. Ask him to stand with you and just be... there is where things become interesting.

Loving hugs and pets are often tolerated or avoided all together. A subtle cue from a rider is so much easier for him to understand than the subtleties of intimacy. Even in the herd with the other horses Casper is mostly alone, he chooses to be. So isn't it curious when you look over your shoulder and he's nuzzling someone from behind? Ears perk up and an inquisitive lip starts playing with a jacket or hat. A great grey head wraps knowingly around a person for a brief time or he lowers his head just long enough for a scratch on the ears.

More often than not the people who are drawn to Casper are those who can relate to his story. Casper isn't asked to do anything other than just be Casper. In this, he changes lives and those lives change him. He can explore relationships for the first time. He can have boundaries instead of walls now. He can play on cool days and nap on warm sunny ones. Casper can just be a horse.

His gift to our program is that we get to see these things grow and unfold as Casper, in his time, explores them. A purposeful turn of his head, an easy languid blink of an eye and suddenly you know so much more about the person who is in the arena with him. He is more than willing to share what he knows but you must be willing to listen.

Casper is truly a gifted therapy horse and amazing teacher.

Published in Blog

It may surprise you to learn that some of the most compelling information we have about human attachment behavior comes from...rodents. That's right - like humans, these little mammalian mothers form attachment-like bonds with their young pups (i.e., rodent infants). As it turns out, the nature of this bond has a profound impact on the pup's development. It has become increasingly clear that the quality of the mother's care induces numerous biological changes in the pup that can be carried forward into adulthood and into the next generation. In fact, thanks to our furry little friends, we now understand some of the mechanisms involved.

Attachment theory, pioneered by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the early 1900's, put forth the idea that the bond between child and caregiver has been naturally selected for by evolution because it offers survival and reproductive advantages. Through a series of ground-breaking studies, they showed that children who are separated from their caregivers experience predictable stages of protest, despair and detachment. Subsequent attachment researchers, like Alan Sroufe, postulated that early attachment relationships organize the child's inner world, making them more or less able to negotiate future developmental challenges in middle childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

By the end of the twentieth century, attachment theory had risen to prominence in the field of psychology. Yet, little was known about the actual biological mechanisms responsible for most of its basic tenets. That began to change with fascinating research in mice and rats, like that of Marion Hofer and his colleagues. They recognized that, like human infants, rat pups experienced similar stages of protest and despair when separated from their caregiver. More importantly, they found that caregiver separation during specific periods of development (usually in the first two weeks) resulted in a number of physiological deficits in the rat pups.

In fact, Hofer and his colleagues discovered that during critical periods, specific maternal caregiving behaviors were related to the development of specific biophysiological processes in the rat pups.  For example, if pups were not allowed to receive body-to-body warmth and closeness from their caregiver, they developed specific deficits in their ability to regulate their activity level (e.g., they were more lethargic, hypoaroused). On the other hand, if the pups received caregiver warmth but did not receive a continuous infusion of maternal milk, then the pups were not able to regulate their heart-rate (but their activity level was normal). These researchers concluded that the caregiver-infant relationship contained within it "hidden regulators" that shaped the biophysiology of the infant in very fundamental ways.

Around the turn of the twenty-first century, there was incredible excitement about the promise of the human (and rodent) genome project.  Gradually, it became clear that simple one-gene-to-one-disease models were overly simplistic and that most conditions were a product of complex interactions between genes and the environment.

With this in mind, researchers like Michael Meaney extended the work of Hofer and others into a new dimension of research involving epigenetics.  Epigenetics refers to the somewhat radical idea that while our inherited genetic code remains fairly stable throughout the lifespan, the quantity and quality of protein products that are made from the genetic code are highly variable and are heavily influenced by the environment.  That is to say, the expression of the genetic code (i.e., which genes are turned on/off, in which parts of the body, at what times) is influenced by various environmental factors.

Michael Meaney's elegant line of research was kick-started by a simple laboratory observation that rat pups handled by humans tended to develop into less anxious and less fearful adults. Fortunately, they overcame the species-centric urge to attribute the positive results to human contact and discovered that pups that were handled by humans received more grooming from their mother. (Rat mothers were dutifully cleansing their pups of the human contact!) This led to the exciting discovery that it was the maternal rat's licking and grooming behavior that was responsible for their well-adjusted offspring.

Meaney and his colleagues found that high-quality maternal care in rats involves licking and grooming behavior and a style of nursing where the mother's back is highly arched. They also discovered natural variation in the quality of maternal care - some maternal rats were quite good at arched-back nursing and licking/grooming behavior, while others were not. This led to the discovery that pups who received high levels of maternal care (arched-back nursing and licking/grooming) were less anxious as adults, more willing to explore their environment and they became mothers who delivered high levels of maternal care to their own offspring.

Of note, these researchers wanted to be sure that the outcomes associated with high-quality maternal care were not simply due to inherited genes. So, they took pups from low-quality caregiving mothers and gave them to high-quality caregiving mothers (cross-fostering), and vice versa. The results showed that it was the quality of caregiving that determined the positive outcomes, not the pup's genetics.

Now these researchers had an animal model that looked a lot like what we see in humans: high-quality maternal care (i.e., attachment security) organizes developmental processes in a way that supports greater well-being and caregiving advantages for the subsequent generation. These researchers were perfectly poised to answer the next burning question: What are the underlying biological mechanisms?

This is where epigenetics re-enters the story! Meaney and his colleagues discovered that during sensitive periods of development (the first week of life for rats), high-quality maternal care actually stimulates (i.e., turns on) the expression of a gene that codes for a protein called glucocorticoid receptor (GR). In fact, the GR gene becomes more active because the mother’s licking and grooming behavior sets in motion a cascade of chemical messengers in the pup that eventually act on specific epigenetic factors (e.g., histones and methyl groups) that alter the shape of the DNA, making it more accessible for genetic expression.

As is common in epigenetics, the maternal rat's high-quality caregiving behavior stimulates GR gene expression in the pup at specific locations within the body: in this case, a brain region called the hippocampus. This is critically important because the hippocampus is involved in generating the body's fight or flight reaction to stress. When there are more glucocorticoid receptors present in the hippocampus, the fight/flight response is attenuated. Therefore, high-quality maternal care alters the shape of the GR gene, which leads to an increase in GR gene expression and an increase of glucocorticoid receptors in the pup's hippocampus. This results in a rat pup with better nervous system regulation that behaves more calmly and confidently as an adult.

Although epigenetic programming by maternal care occurs during sensitive periods early in life and tends to be stable over the lifespan, there is evidence that these effects can be reversed. Even as adults, these same epigenetic processes remain open to environmental influences and can potentially be harnessed for the purpose of change. There is some evidence that consistent and repetitive activation of certain brain circuits might induce epigenetic modifications, leading to stable changes in gene expression. Ultimately, changes in gene expression modulate complicated neurochemical feedback loops, which then alter the structure and function of neurobiological systems.

Thus, there is the real possibility that future research will help identify ways that specific environmental factors, including the environment of our own mind, can be utilized to gain access to these powerful epigenetic processes. In that wonderfully hopeful time, we will probably still be talking about mice and mothers.

Jon G. Caldwell, D.O., is a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of adults with relational trauma histories and addictive behaviors. Dr. Caldwell currently works full-time as a psychiatrist at The Meadows treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona. For many years he has been teaching students, interns, residents, and professionals in medicine and mental health about how childhood adversity influences health and wellbeing. His theoretical perspective is heavily influenced by his PhD graduate work at the University of California at Davis where he has been researching how early childhood maltreatment and insecure attachment relationships affect cognitive, emotional, and social functioning later in life. Dr. Caldwell's clinical approach has become increasingly flavored by the timeless teachings of the contemplative traditions and the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Published in Blog

Contact The Meadows

Intensive Family Program • Innovative Experiential Therapy • Neurobehavioral Therapy

(*)
Invalid Input

Invalid Input

(*)
Invalid Input

(*)
Invalid Input

(*)
Invalid Input

Invalid Input