By Colleen DeRango, MA, LISAC, SEP, Co-Facilitator of Equine Workshops
In my most quiet moments of reflection, I often recall what one client said in one of her somatic equine sessions:
"Nothing reduces my anxiety from a 9 to a 3 faster than being with a horse."
I don't know why this is, but I do know that it is my daily experience around these sacred beings who have blessed my life. In this world of addiction, trauma, and mood disorder treatment, we often spend time looking through the lens of pathology; whereas, in the presence of a horse, we seem to quite often be looking through the lens of authenticity. Horses somehow help us return to the truth of who we really are.
Horses can also often help us find a subtle, gentle, whole, connected sense of being. Being with another being. Being seen, being understood, being accepted─ it is deeper than the sensation of love. It is perhaps presence in communion.
Often-times tears will come, and I imagine that if the tears could be analyzed, they would be both pure and authentic. Acceptance overflowing.
I have a mustang in my herd; his senses are still connected to the time he spent roaming free and surviving in the mountains of Nevada. His perception and presence for "resonating with other" is simply amazing, as everyone who works with him can attest. His ability to help a person move into authenticity is beyond anything I have ever witnessed. He risks trusting humans cautiously, modeling to clients to "slow down, be thoughtful, be present, and be honoring." And when they do, the reward is his trust; and it is as if his gift of trust heals.
As a trauma healing specialist, I know well of the terms trauma reenactment; trauma repetition, and trauma bonding. As a horsewoman my herd has taught me the power of "presence reenactment, repetition and bonding." And as I have repeatedly and consistently experienced in healing work with clients, the power of "presence in communion" is stronger than the power of any trauma.
Be it a girl with a horse; a woman, or a man; the horse doesn't see the gender, size or color; or what we have done, said, or experienced; rather, the horse sees the truth, and it isn't a dark endless pit, but a gentle light of acceptance, helping us all to do the same.
You can experience the gentle light of acceptance too, by attending one of our Spirit Equine Workshops. The Spirit workshop has a 5-day and a 3-day option. The next 5-day workshops will be offered on Sept. 7-11 and November 2-6. The next 3-day workshops are October 2-4 and Dec. 4-6. Register today as spaces are limited. Call 800-244-4949 for more information
The Meadows Outpatient Center opened in early 2015 and has been going strong ever since!
What makes The Meadows Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) experience unique is that our senior fellows are directly involved in the clinical formulation of our IOP model. Many treatment centers in the country use materials created by Meadows’ Senior Fellows, but at our outpatient center these same leading experts conduct workshops, lectures, and other events.
The center also has several great programs available to alumni of The Meadows programs, their families, and the general public:
The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host monthly alumni meetings. Meadows’ trained professionals will lead these inspirational meetings that focus on renewing the language of The Meadows Model and reclaiming your commitment to its principles.
For more information on Inspired Recovery Alumni Meetings please call The Meadows Events and Alumni at 800-240-5522 or email email@example.com. Or find an alumni meeting in the city nearest you, and register to attend.
Research strongly shows that the longer someone is engaged in treatment, the better their chances are of long-term, successful recovery. It is fairly simple to keep someone on track with regular accountability. It is also fairly easy to get off-track without it. Alumni from The Meadows and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can now attend weekly Recovery Enhancement Group meetings to focus on Recovery, Fellowship, Spirituality, Service, Unity, Accountability, Networking, Enthusiasm and Fun. The first hour of the meeting is peer-led and monitored by a licensed Meadows therapist. For the second hour, the group joins the IOP group meeting to demonstrate that ongoing recovery is possible.
Meetings are held every Thursday from 10 a.m to Noon, and from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Contact the Meadows Outpatient Center at 928-668-4999.
The Meadows IOP family program encourages the patient’s family members and significant others to…
We offer two different family groups:
Every week, one IOP session is devoted to multifamily group in which family members attend with the IOP patient. If the patient’s family members live out of state, we can involve them remotely through online video conferencing. Local families are encouraged to attend sessions every week.
Learning effective communication skills is a high priority during family issues group. We believe it is very empowering to learn how to talk to one another in a healthy, clear, assertive manner that yields positive results. The Mulftifamily Group meets every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to Noon or 5:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. There is no need for a reservation and no charge to attend.
Family Recovery Group
This group also meets weekly and is just for family members without the IOP patient in the room. All family members are invited to attend. The group meeting is facilitated by a Meadows-trained, experienced family therapist who helps family members learn how to be helpful, how to stop enabling, how to switch the focus from the IOP patient to their own recovery in their own 12 step program. There are always many questions and answers, many interactions and a lot of mutual support that is shared every week. Family members find this group extremely helpful. The Family Recovery Group takes place every Monday from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at The Meadows Outpatient Center and is open to the public. There is no need for a reservation and no charge to attend.
If you have questions about either family group contact Jim Corrington at 602-740-8403.
Alumni can come by anytime the outpatient center is open to use our state-of-the-art Brain Spa for guided imagery, Hemi-sync brain regulation, meditation audios, etc. The room features fully reclining chairs, blankets , soft lighting and inspiring photos from the Hubble Space telescope. It is truly a safe, healing environment.
Meeting Space Meadows Alumni can also use our beautiful and spacious conference center to bring a bag lunch, hang out, use the kitchen area, etc. There are bistro tables and stools and a marvelous view of the scenic McDowell Mountains!
Recovery is like walking up a down escalator… you must keep moving in the right direction; otherwise you will lose ground and fall back. Let us help you and your loved ones stay on the right track. The Meadows Outpatient Center offers, through our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) individual therapy with our Master’s level and licensed clinicians (SE, EMDR, CBT) and group therapy four days per week, 3 hours per day. In addition, Neurofeedback is also available for IOP patients. Transitional living for patients is available through preferred affiliations with top-quality properties, and is offered to local patients, as well as those from out of state. Contact us at 928-668-4999 for more information.
By Judith Freilich, MD
Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a Spirit Workshop at The Meadows. It was wonderful and I want to tell you about it.
As a 74-year-old woman physician and psychiatrist, I probably am not the workshop’s typical attendee. My lack of experience with horses was equal to my fear of large beasts. But, I still fully recall a horseback ride I took at my eighth grade picnic when I was14. It was a wonderful moment; the memory prompted me to say “go for it!”
On the appointed morning, I showed up at Buddy’s ranch without cowgirl clothes —no fun hat, boots or jeans—for a 5 day, equine-assisted, somatic experience® (SE) workshop. What I did bring with me was a history of profound trauma that began at a very young age. I also arrived with positive, hopeful feelings about SE and its ability to help me release old trauma.
I was not a stranger to myself. I had worked diligently in all kinds of therapies for decades. I’d explored healing modalities far afield from my training and practice in western medicine and psychiatry. I’ve experienced and studied bodywork and energy work in many forms. I have a strong faith and spiritual sense that had kept me alive and caring for others well, in the face of my own immense loss and trauma.
These modalities were all helpful; I have no doubt they kept me functioning and fairly healthy. But, although layers of trauma had been peeled back through this work, there was still trauma frozen in my nervous system and body.
I viewed my remaining trauma as a huge iceberg, all of it intertwined in ways that made it difficult to tease out any one issue without flooding the whole system. I had not yet experienced trauma work through The Meadows.
Yet the horse knows the way, as the old song goes; especially if the horse has wise steerage by Colleen DeRango and Buddy Uldrikson. These two gifted human beings are trained in Somatic Experiencing® and in horsemanship─ deeply trained. I trusted them from the start. When Colleen and Buddy saw my trauma list, they were surprised but not daunted. They said the horse would know the way.
And they were right! There were five of us in the workshop and we formed a cohesive group of support. On the first day, it poured chilly rain. We were asked to walk past all the horses in their stalls and find one we connected with. We were to sense each horse’s response to us and ours to them. This seemed impossible to me!
I walked the line of 12-15 stalls three times, mostly scared and bewildered. I did not feel a sense of connection with any horse. At the far end of the third pass, I approached a huge horse, one that had already turned its butt to me the other two times I’d passed by. That I did feel!
As I approached him this time, he turned his face toward me as a huge tear came out of his right eye. He put his head through the fence gate, sniffed at me and nuzzled me. I felt his warm breath and I felt warmer. To my surprise, I instantly felt grounded. And a huge, healing breath went all the way through my body, naturally!
My energy had re-aligned itself in the presence of this beautiful, soft-eyed horse. He was very tall, the largest horse there. He was a rich brown with a black mane and tail, a white line on his face and white on his lower legs─ it looked like he had on knee-high socks. His breed is German Warmblood, with a fine pedigree. He had not been getting along well with the other horses, so he was in a pen by himself. He was expected to become a fine jumper. He was at Buddy’s ranch for some training.
And I fell in love! We called him Jumper. As Jumper and I worked together through the week, our bond only got stronger. Everyone could feel it. Jumper was calm and extraordinarily gentle with me. This was more than I could have imagined.
Each day, as I drove to Buddy’s ranch, I felt stronger and better. As soon as my car got onto the ranch, I relaxed and loved every moment there. To me, the land at the ranch has a sacred quality. The horses add their presence. I loved the sounds and the smells and the earth and sky and the old mesquite tree we sat under each morning to check in and do a meditation. And all around us was the snuffling of these wonderful beings.
I learned that research done by the Heart Math Institute in California shows that the heart energy field of a horse is nine times larger than our human heart energy fields. I believe it! Under the expert guidance of Colleen and Buddy and in the warmth of Jumper, a huge piece of frozenness left me─ simply left. I felt it go! And no flooding…
I was not the only one to notice. One evening that week, I went into Phoenix to see the cranial-sacral osteopath who has treated me off and on for almost 10 years, ever since I broke a leg. Back then, my whole system was locked in ‘freeze’ from shock. It was not simply shock from the fall that broke my leg; it was deeper shock that went all the way back to a tragedy more than 20 years earlier. She has treated me throughout all the other good work I have done on myself for years.
She put her hands gently on my head. Almost immediately she said that whatever I was doing was making a remarkable change in my nervous system, more so than anything I had done to date. No question. Change, even partway through the Spirit Workshop, was already palpable. That change has been maintained and has even deepened since.
Since the workshop ended, I have been able to continue working with Colleen and Buddy. (I live nearby.) Jumper had to go back to his owner and we parted lovingly. I am fond, very fond, of the other horses, but … a first love is always a first love!
Buddy’s ranch is still a special place for me. Now I have a cowboy hat and jeans; I’m working toward boots. I continue to see the docs taking care of me. They continue to see progress in healing my nervous system at a deep level.
I am grateful!
The Spirit workshop has a 5-day and a 3-day option. The next 5-day workshops will be offered on Sept. 7-11 and November 2-6. The next 3-day workshops are October 2-4 and Dec. 4-6. Register today as spaces are limited. Call 800-244-4949 for more information.
Georgia Fourlas, LMSW, LISAC, CSAT-C
Workshop Facilitator, The Meadows
I recently facilitated Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy, The Meadows’ workshop for women with sex addiction, sexual anorexia and other sexual disorders. I was very moved by this group of courageous and strong women. I was also moved by their pleas with me to do whatever I could to make sure this workshop gets more attention.
There is no shortage of women with sexual disorders; but, they often remain hidden and do not have the opportunity to discuss their issues with other women who share their struggles. It is amazing to watch what happens when these issues are openly discussed. They are brought from the darkness in to the light.
Connection with others is vital in recovery. Isolation, withdraw, detachment, and loneliness feed addiction. Connection and healthy attachments enable recovery. Many women are hard wired for relationships and connection with others. However, at times, our culture does not value connection, empathy and emotional understanding in relationships. Instead, these gifts can be seen as defects, and women can be viewed as unable to take care of themselves, overly-emotional, dramatic, and needy. Unfortunately, many women also avoid connections with other women due to their own fears about trust. They cannot trust themselves, and they project that lack of trust onto other women, leaving them isolated and alone in their fear and shame.
Sex disorders among females seem to be particularly taboo and touchy topics ─ not only for the general public, but also for women who are suffering from a sexual disorder. This leads to major challenges in their motivation to seek treatment. It also leads to difficulties for women in seeking support in their ongoing recovery. This means that women often wait longer to get help which leaves them with increased consequences, both internal and external. One of the biggest internal consequences is the heavy burden of shame that these women carry.
Many women who struggle with sexual disorders are also extremely high functioning and struggle with perfectionism as a way to mediate the shame they feel. Addiction and shame feed one another; both hinder the ability to have truly intimate and fulfilling relationships. Women with sexual disorders desire true intimacy, but are caught in patterns that prevent them from finding that intimacy.
The Meadows’ workshop Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy offers women with sexual disorders a chance to work through their shame and begin a healing journey.
Utilizing Patrick Carnes’ model, women have a chance to intervene on their own disordered behaviors and thought processes. Work includes identifying the participants’ own value system, and restoring their life force and their own esteem by providing a map to find their true selves and to their recovery.
Even if participants know where they want to go and have a map to get there, they also need to have methods to help them along the way. This workshop provides tools for recovery and instructions on how to use these valuable tools. It prepares women for the kinds of intimate relationships that they long for and deserve; the kind of relationships that start by nurturing an intimate and trusting relationship with one’s self, and then taking healthy risks by entering into supportive, recovery-oriented relationships with others. We provide a safe environment that allows participants to explore their own true nature, their own heart, and their own humanity.
If you would like more information or would like to enroll in Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy, or any of our workshops, please call our Intake Department at 1-800-244-4949.
In a recent TED Talk, journalist and author Johann Hari suggests that “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.” He argues that most people in our society see addiction as a simple chemical dependency, when it is actually the result of a failure to connect ─ with family, with friends, with the community, with God, or with a larger sense of purpose.
His ideas are proving to be somewhat controversial in the recovery and addiction communities, not so much because of his basic premise, but because of his assertion that these ideas are “new.” (The studies he sites have been well known to psychologists and addiction professionals for years.) He does also seem to oversimplify, in some ways, what is often a very complicated and nuanced problem. And, he calls for the legalization of all recreational drugs as a possible solution, an idea which always sparks a strong debate.
In spite of some of the questionable aspects of his speech, at The Meadows, we do agree with his core principle: that disconnection─ with peers, with communities, with one’s sense of self and/or with a higher power ─ can play a major role in triggering addiction and other behavioral issues.
One of the most important goals we have for our patients at The Meadows is that they learn how to become interdependent. The Meadows Model, developed by Pia Mellody, names dependency as one the four core issues that must be addressed before a person can make a full recovery from addiction or mood disorders. Doing so requires one to reconnect with the child he or she once was. Being too dependent comes from not having needs and wants met as a child. Being anti-dependent comes from being shamed for having needs and wants as child.
Becoming interdependent means learning how to balance your own needs and wants with those of others. If you are interdependent, you are able to ask for help when you need it, help others when they make a reasonable request, and say “no” when necessary to prevent yourself from stretching yourself too thin and becoming resentful.
Without interdependence, there is no recovery. As an addict, the ability to rely on others for help and emotional support, and to give that help and support to others, is critical to staying sober. Without the tools to make and maintain these connections, recovery is impossible to sustain.
Step 11 in the 12 Step Model for Recovery requires the addict to find a connection with a higher power:
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”
In most cases, addicts have either always struggled to connect with God, their Higher Power, or their sense of purpose; or, in some way, they got disconnected along the way. Recovery is about getting connected or reconnected.
Jim Corrington, Director of The Meadows Outpatient Services, likes to use the analogy of an orange extension cord to explain:
An orange extension cord is useless and without purpose when it’s hanging on the wall. You have to plug it in to a source of power to give it potential. It does not reach its full potential until you plug something else into IT. So, too, an individual must stay plugged in to their source of power, AND, stay connected to others around them to reach sobriety, and with it, their full potential.
Addictions manifest in those areas where people are disconnected but seeking to connect. “Faulty wiring” caused by childhood trauma can make it difficult for them to connect with others or with their sense of purpose, so they end up trying to fill the gap with substances or unhealthy behaviors.
At The Meadows, we take a holistic approach to healing that helps patients to reconnect through their minds, bodies and spirits. Therapy sessions and workshops allow them to find out how they became disconnected, to work on ways to build better relationships with others, and to learn how to nurture themselves. Our new brain center helps them to address any dysregulation they may be experiencing in the brain and nervous system. And, physical activities like Yoga, Tai Chi, equine therapy and ropes courses, allow them to gain even deeper insights into themselves.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction or a disorder and are seeking ways to reconnect, we can help. Contact us for more information.