The Meadows Blog

Written by a former active duty military personnel, currently employed at Gentle Path at The Meadows

In a world that is constantly in strife and war, we as a nation call upon the select few that have dedicated their lives in service to our country—the protectors of our freedom. Although the sound of military life may seem glamorous to some, the situations that these men and women find themselves in not only affect their lives, but the people’s lives who love them the most.

What soldiers experience in deployment will last longer than the smoke and sounds of gun fire; it is a constant memory that haunts you when awake and terrifies you when asleep. The nightmares are never ending until you finally face the trauma that haunts your life.

In these dark days a soldier tries to find hope in anything he or she can, not only for themselves, but for their families; it’s the little things, things that so many take for granted in the normal hustle and bustle of life. Things like the laughter of a child, the rain pouring down, a warm thank you from a stranger, a gentle kiss on the check, and even the wind on your face can for a second take away the gnawing pain in your heart. But even in these moments the things you did, the things you’ve see, the lives you impacted, the faceless terrors you encountered, hide in the shadows constantly reminding you of those memories, of that pain, every day.

However, in the midst of all of this pain and hurt, service men and women stand on the military values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Self Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Finding a place that shares in these values and longs to see lives changed is hard, but it is an important part of healing and a necessary path that we must walk on. I asked myself several times how important it was for me to face my demons, and the answer was always “Very.” Waking up in a cold sweat—my best friend sitting there worrying, trying to make the nightmares leave—I realized that trauma doesn’t just change your life, but all the lives of the people you love most.

What kind of a soldier would I be if I didn’t protect those I love? Without facing my demons, how can I overcome them? Without overcoming them, how can I truly be free? Without being free how can I fully live in love, life, beauty and everything else this world has to offer away from the wars I faced? So I have the choice to face it, putting a new example on the idea of personal courage and self-sacrifice, still holding true to those values that I swore to honor and respect and carry with me as part of the uniform I wore.

Every day military personnel put on that uniform, tie up their boots and head into the fire fights that await, battles by our side, with our families praying at home, dreaming that one day their loved one will come home safe. However, even at home these individuals are not fully safe from themselves and the memories that torment them with every breath. But there is hope for a better life, and there is a future once the smoke fades and the ringing of the bullets dies.

The importance of healing from the effects of war can make or break the rest of your life. Support is rare, and it’s often hard to find a positive place to work out the battle wounds—a safe place to heal with no judgment. However, it does exist and there is hope. When searching for a safe place to do my own work, I was urged to look for someone/some place that holds my same values—sage advice.

It’s called LIFE, it’s called FREEDOM and it’s what we fight everyday to defend, so it’s time to fight for ourselves and our families by taking back our FUTURES.

Need Help?

The Meadows is honored to provide behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient services, with an emphasis on trauma, PTSD, and addictive disease disorders, to active duty military members, retirees and dependents of the TRICARE West Region. The Meadows has a long history of working with TRICARE beneficiaries as a non-contracted provider. We are tremendously proud to help serve the health care needs of service members, veterans, and their families, and would be happy to help determine eligibility and benefits that can be utilized at The Meadows. We are committed to helping military beneficiaries and partnering with all aspects of the TRICARE healthcare alliance. For more information, call us at 800-244-4949 or go visit our contact page.

Published in Military Issues
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:00

Our Wonderful Trauma Program

Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.

Welcome back to Shelley’s Corner!

I was meeting with our Director of Trauma Services, Deirdre Stewart, last week. I consider myself so privileged to consult to such a fine program, and I wanted to share with you why I like our trauma program so much…

First, let me tell you why this is so important to me. I have great passion for helping people who have had a lot of relational trauma while growing up. I sustained significant amounts of trauma during my formative years, and was so fortunate to reap the benefit of high quality trauma treatment. Given that background, I’m always on the “lookout” for the best trauma interventions that become available.

There are several treatment programs in the country that offer various high quality trauma interventions. What I’m so pleased with in our Meadows program is that it has gone a step further by INTEGRATING these interventions, including Pia Mellody’s Model, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Neurofeedback, Heart Rate Coherence Training, Trauma-Informed Yoga, etc. Our trauma staff members are now analyzing which COMBINATION and SEQUENCE of these interventions is best for each patient.

For example, the trauma staff may decide that patient “X” needs help with first regulating his nervous system, before other goals. So the staff may begin with Somatic Experiencing sessions, followed by EMDR, and may recommend to the patient that he attend the Trauma-Informed Yoga groups as regularly as possible.

Another patient may start out with frequent Neurofeedback sessions, in addition to Heart Rate Coherence training, etc.

One of the reasons I am so excited about this flexibility and integration of trauma services is that we can continue to evolve in the effectiveness of our treatment. As newer research becomes available, we can revise what we are doing in order to match the new research findings. For instance, Neurofeedback is just beginning to become recognized for its amazing potential role in treating developmental trauma; The Meadows is already poised to increase its part in our treatment planning for patients.

Stay tuned; more to come!
Shelley

© Shelley Uram 2014

Published in Treatment & Recovery
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:00

Blue - A New Paradigm

By: Sandra Lehmann, Trauma Counselor at The Meadows

I am currently going through the professional training program on Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) – a psychobiological method for the resolution and healing of trauma. I was struck by what the trainer taught us regarding the concept of society being addicted to the “red vortex.” The red vortex represents trauma and intensity (think the evening news). In the training, we learn how people get sucked into the red vortex as they reach the edges of intense experiences and that reliving the intensity of what happened in that experience is not healing. The trainer spoke about how it is not our fault that we are red addicted; we are born into a society that is inherently disconnected from our true nature, which is to live in harmony with nature and one another. SE therapy helps the patient reconnect with their body’s inherent ability to heal.

A key point of SE is that after we have a traumatic experience we tend to live in extremes – either avoiding intensity by trying to feel good all the time (think addiction), or living out intense experiences that activate the nervous system similar to the original trauma. In the SE training, we are taught to move towards the “blue vortex” first – feeling safe and socially connected – before moving towards the red. This back and forth movement gets lost in trauma.

The goal of SE is to increase our flexibility to move back and forth between both the pleasure and pain life offers and to have resiliency so we can be present to what is happening in the here and now. By being in the here and now, we have an embodied experience which allows us to be present for self and others. Imagine what the world would look like if we each learn to be that engaged in our own process so we can connect with others in such an open way.

To learn more about Somatic Experiencing® and how it can improve your life, contact The Meadows at 800-244-4949 with your questions, and start receiving the help you need.

Published in Trauma

Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.

Welcome to Shelley’s Corner! Each week, you can find me here sharing some interesting information and ideas. Any feedback or ideas about topics are most welcomed!

Claudia Black, Senior Fellow at The Meadows, and I just returned from Boston from the 25th Annual International Trauma Conference. In my opinion, this is THE BEST trauma conference that I attend each year. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows, scours the planet each year looking for the latest and best trauma research. If he thinks the research will ultimately be valuable to trauma clients or clinicians, he welcomes these innovators to participate in his conference.

This year’s speakers updated us on the latest information concerning cutting edge theory and treatment practices. For example, the founder of Sensori-motor Psychotherapy, Pat Ogden, lectured and presented some film clips of clients working with her techniques. Her general approach to treating trauma is releasing the remnants, or “shadows,” of trauma that have been locked into our bodies. When it is released, not only does the body become freer and more spontaneous, but, likewise, our emotions can become much more comfortable.

At The Meadows, Pat Ogden’s Sensori-motor Psychotherapy is one of the trauma techniques many of our counselors utilize. We use this form of therapy, in conjunction with Pia Mellody’s Model, along with several other interventions that help heal our bodies and minds from trauma and addiction. It is my opinion that this whole package is unbeatable for helping people heal.

I’ll be back next week with some ideas about practices you can do on your own that may be helpful for many of you!

Until Then,

Shelley Uram, M.D.

© Shelley Uram 2014

Published in Trauma
The Meadows trauma and addiction treatment center was a co-sponsor and presenter at the recent 25th Annual International Trauma Conference May 28-31, 2014, in Boston, Mass. Leading neuroscientists and treatment developers, including The Meadows’ Senior Fellows, Shelley Uram, MD, and Claudia Black, MSW, Ph.D., presented to nearly 700 attendees during the four-day conference.

From the opening keynote, “Understanding Trauma Through The Lens of the Polyvagal Theory” by Stephen Porges, Ph.D., to integration of trauma treatment model in clinical practice, the conference examined how trauma affects psychological and biological processes, and how the damage caused by overwhelming life experiences can be reversed. “The study of trauma has probably been the single most fertile area in helping to develop a deep understanding of the relationship among the emotional, cognitive, social and biological forces that shape human development,” said Conference Director, Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD.

“The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute would like to express its appreciation to The Meadows for their continued support of this conference and their continued work in trauma and addiction treatment,” said Dr. van der Kolk, one of the world's foremost authorities on post-traumatic stress disorder and other related disorders, Senior Fellow at The Meadows, and Founder and Medical Director of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute.

Dr. Uram and Dr. Black presented a dynamic workshop entitled "Trauma and Addicted Family Systems: A Multidimensional Perspective," during which Dr. Black explained how adverse childhood experiences and blatant violence contribute to both addiction and co-occurring disorders. She also discussed shame screens, which are created in response to internalized shame-based messages. Dr. Uram translated this information into simple-to-understand neurobiological concepts, explaining how they ultimately impact the family system and most other aspects of life.

Dr. Black is a renowned author and trainer internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. She is the author of several seminal books in the addictions field, most notably It Will Never Happen to Me and Straight Talk. Dr. Uram, a Harvard-trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She speaks nationally and internationally, and is best known for transforming the complexity of the brain and traumatology into interesting and easily understandable explanations.

“Dr. Uram and I thoroughly enjoyed offering a full day’s workshop to clinicians from all over the country at this year’s trauma conference,” said Dr. Black. “As I discussed trauma as it exists in the context of families impacted by addiction, Dr. Uram offered the biological overlay to the experiences I spoke about. The audience was extremely enthusiastic about our presentation,” she adds. “I then stayed for the remaining three days of the trauma conference, and as fascinating as it was to listen to predominantly research-based presentations, I must honestly say what I came away with is how The Meadows has done a wonderful job of approaching trauma from what is called the ‘bottom’s up, top down’ perspective. We incorporate trauma therapies that offer regulation to the dysregulated brain stem and limbic system, making it possible for the client to use the widely respected cognitive behavioral methodologies. It was exciting to hear the research that was presented validate our treatment approach.”

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 800-244-4949.

Published in Events and Training

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