The Meadows Blog

The Meadows is sponsoring a free lecture in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, February 14 presented by Katherine Aguirre, MA, LPC, on the topic of "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: The Cycles of Love Addiction and Love Avoidance. It will be held at the Riverbend Church, The Quad, 4214 Capital of Texas Highway from 7:00 to 8:30pm. To register this event, please visit http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1029257.  

Aguirre is a licensed professional counselor and a Pia Mellody trained therapist with more than seven years of counseling experience. She has been greatly influenced by Mellody, one of the preeminent authorities in the fields of addiction and relationships, and a Senior Fellow and senior clinical advisor for The Meadows Wickenburg. Aguirre has counseled clients at Safeplace, the American Cancer Society, The Meadows, and Spirit Lodge where she treated chemical addictions, process addictions, codependence, and trauma, in addition to family of origin work. She is now in private practice in Austin, Texas.

The Meadows sponsors free lectures in various cities throughout the country. Speakers include local therapists familiar with The Meadows’ model. Lectures are free and open to the public.  Attendees can earn 1.5 Continuing Education Credits. For more information about this free event, contact Betty Ewing Dicken at 972.612.7443 or bdicken@themeadows.com.

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 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog
Monday, 26 August 2013 20:00

The Meadows Horse of the Month - DUSTY

Dusty - 23year old -Strawberry Roan - Quarter horse - Gelding

Boundaries are one of the most requested issues that Participants want to work on at Equine.

So where can you find a safe and reliable place to practice noticing and responding to boundaries? A place where you can literally see and feel boundaries?

Dusty is that space. He is amazing in that he is consistent, honest and clear in his expression of personal boundaries. He is not what you would call cuddly. We affectionately refer to him as our "Grumpy Old Man." With Dusty you always know exactly what he wants. No question. He makes no excuses and never second guesses himself. If he wants to be close that day you know it. If he wants space that day, you know it too. Groups have begun only to have Dusty lay down and fall asleep or take a nap. The photo above is Dusty napping during a group.

Dusty created our Boundaries experiential all on his own. We would watch Participants approach him and see him begin setting boundaries. Often the more subtle cues were missed and so he would be more obvious with ears and making a face. If these cues were also missed he would move away or move his head up and down in the air. So the question posed is always the same "Do you ever find yourself in an out of control situation but have no idea how it got that way?"

By moving toward Dusty and then away Participants can see exactly when the Boundary is being set and also FEEL when the Boundary is there. Dusty sets and holds boundaries with an almost tangible energy. It's a very confident feeling. To Participants who chose to work with Dusty it becomes very clear; that in learning how to recognize the boundaries he sets, they were also better able to see other boundaries being set around them. Boundaries that, before would have been totally unrecognized, are now easily seen.

Even though he is a horse that clearly prefers the predictable black and white of life, Dusty willingly stands in the grey messiness of us trying to figure out human Boundaries. With Dusty the more you lean into the Boundary the clearer and more obvious it gets. He is a horse that brings things into focus and gives you a look at life through eyes that see things in a much simpler way.

Published in Blog

Finding out that your committed partner has sexually betrayed you is like: getting your heart ripped out, stomped on, thrown through a glass window, spit on, and perhaps lastly, smothered with gasoline and set on fire. Then, your partner asks you to forgive him or her; and you don't think you could ever be more furious and disgusted.

This is a common experience for the Partners of Sexual Addicts that I work with on a weekly basis at The Meadows. The stories and behaviors may be different but the underlying foundation of the damage is always Betrayal. Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial betrayal is devastating and gut-wrenchingly painful for a partner who had dreams and hopes of having a healthy and committed relationship. Those dreams are now shattered and the Partner is left with the questions of "Why wasn't I enough?", "How could they do this to me?"; and "Where do I go from here?"

Sexual Addiction stems from a deep rooted intimacy and attachment disorder that often starts within childhood, teenage, or young adult years. Many of the patients I work with at The Meadows have been engaging in some type of dysfunctional, sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or behaviors since they could remember, far before ever meeting their current partner or spouse. Sexual Addiction thrives off of Shame. Often times the addict's shame, due to their behaviors and lies, will be deflected or projected onto the partner and they are the ones that have to carry it.

Because sexuality and being sexual is so important and integral in intimate coupleships, when that is destroyed or taken outside the primary relationship, the partner has no choice but to take it personally and look at it as an attack on themselves and who they are or are not. Many spouses that I speak with will say to me, "Why wasn't I attractive enough, sexual enough, loved enough to keep him/her with me?" My message to them is: "If there is one thing I want you to learn this week, it is that this had nothing to do with what you have or have not done".

So if the partner did not cause the addiction and is not an addict themselves then why be a part of the patient's treatment and come to Family Week? I often hear from partners: "He is the sick one! He gets to go and get help and leave me here at home with the chaos and damage that he created! And now he is asking me to drop everything and come to Arizona for a week to help him?" My reply is: "Come here for YOU."

Within the Family Week program, partners are given resources and tools to start to stand on solid ground. Family Week is NOT about reconciliation, fixing the problem or hearing an excuse about why the patient acted out. The week long program is designed around boundary setting and healthy communication that allow the partner to be heard and protected.

Being betrayed will undoubtedly, for most partners, contribute to feelings of shame and worthlessness that creates a deep, dark wound within them. The Meadows and Pia Mellody define Trauma as "Anything less than nurturing". Sexual betrayal would obviously fit into this category based on the definition and many partners experience symptoms of trauma such as hypervigilance, despair, flashbacks and nightmares, among other experiences. The shame and trauma need to be addressed for the partner to start to heal that wound. Even if the partner decides to move on from that relationship he or she will continue to be plagued in life and through other relationships if not addressed.

Through my work at The Meadows, I have seen amazing growth and strength in men and women who thought that they could have never dug themselves out of the dark hole that sexual addiction created. Recovery work, for both the addict and partner, instills hope, perseverance, and self-worth that they thought they had lost. The Meadows Workshops such as Partners of Sex Addicts, Survivors, and Women's Intimacy Issues are great resources to help partners to gain awareness, understanding, and tools to help themselves and their families.

Lauren Bierman is a Family Counselor at the Meadows working with the Sex Addiction population. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor and has been trained through Patrick Carnes and IITAP's Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) program. Her passion is working with Partners of Sex Addicts in their own healing process and helping them find hope after sexual betrayal.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 11 August 2013 20:00

What is EFT?

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

This article will introduce the EFT therapy technique. In this article, you will learn what EFT is and how it is used at The Meadows to enhance therapy.

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. Emotional Freedom Technique is basically acupuncture without needles! EFT uses light tapping with your fingertips on designated points on your face and body. Tapping is combined with stating an identified problem/issue followed by an affirmation phrase. Tapping can balance energy meridians in our body that were disrupted through trauma. Trauma, as defined at The Meadows, is anything that was/is less than nurturing. Trauma can range from neglect and abandonment to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Using EFT helps to balance the energy system and to relieve psychological stress and pain. Balancing energy allows the body and mind to heal. EFT is safe and easy to apply to a myriad of issues we may struggle with. The benefit of EFT is that it can create lasting changes in thinking and lead to a more balanced and positive life. EFT is easy to learn and can be done with a therapist or by yourself

Why do we offer EFT at The Meadows? EFT is an adjunct therapy that helps with the many reasons that people come to The Meadows. Past trauma, putting alcohol or drugs into your body, engaging in high intensity issues such as gambling or sexual addiction reverses the positive flow of energy in your body. When we experience these issues in our life, it is like we have put the battery into our body in the wrong way. Using EFT tapping re-sets the battery and puts the battery in the right way. Tapping can change the biochemistry of the body. The result of continued tapping on trauma and addiction issues is emotional freedom!

In dealing with trauma, addictions, and intensity issues, it is recommended that EFT is used with a therapist who has been trained in EFT. In fact, it is strongly recommended that EFT is first practiced with an EFT trained therapist before doing EFT by yourself. At The Meadows, we utilize therapist-assisted EFT to help patients with specific issues. Therapists trained in EFT will take patients through the "Tell the Story" technique in order to lead patients through issues they need to work on. The "Tell the Story" technique helps patients work through carried emotions that have caused a disruption in the body's energy system. The EFT trained therapist will work with patients on specific events and tap through intense events and issues.

By working on the specific events and tapping through intense events and issues, patients will be able to balance themselves in the Core Issues. Patients will begin to realize their inherent worth. Patients will develop more functional boundaries. Patients will begin to understand the reality of their humanity and realize they are human and perfectly imperfect. Patients will show a better understanding of their needs and wants and learn to be interdependent. Patients will learn how to balance themselves, so they can live in moderation in all areas of their life.

 

Emotional Freedom Technique

 

How does someone use EFT on themselves? If we have an issue that does not require therapy, we can tap on ourselves to bring about emotional freedom from that issue. I will take you through a sample EFT exercise. First, let's look at the tapping points of EFT in the diagram above.

Before we go through the sample exercise, let's look at the sequence of tapping. In order to balance our energy, there is a recommended sequence for tapping. Here is the recommended sequence:

  • Karate chop
  • Top of head
  • Eyebrow
  • Side of Eye
  • Under Eye
  • Under Nose
  • Chin
  • Collarbone
  • Under arm
  • Then repeat as you continue tapping the issue away...

Now, we are ready to go through a sample exercise. EFT requires going through a sequence of steps. These are:

  1. Choose the target issue you want to work on.

  2. Rate the intensity of the issues on a scale of 0 - 10, with 10 being the highest.

  3. Choose a reminder statement. The reminder statement is the statement that states what you have an intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) about. At the end of the statement, add the affirmation: "I still deeply and completely accept myself."

  4. Say this statement 2 times while doing the karate chop (tapping on the side of the hand point).

  5. Tap on the other points 5-10 times lightly, starting at the top of your head, using the reminder phrase and checking for any discomfort.

  6. Rate your intensity level (the 0 - 10 scale) and note any change.

  7. Repeat steps 4 - 6 until the discomfort is down to a 0 - 1 rating.

  8. When you have successfully taken your discomfort to a 0 -1, you have successfully relieved your intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) around this issue.

For instance, if your issue is your worry about money, your reminder statement might be: "Even though I feel anxious about money," with the added affirmation, "I still deeply and completely accept myself." When you are ready to begin the tapping, you would recite the entire phrase, "Even though I feel anxious about money, I still deeply and completely accept myself." Then, take yourself through the above steps. As you are tapping on each of the points, you can shorten the phrase, so you are not saying the entire phrase for each tapping point. For instance, when you tap on your eyebrow, you can simply say: "anxious," then moving to the side of your eye, you can say, "money." As you move through the remainder of the tapping points, you can incorporate the rest of the reminder statement; under eye, "deeply and completely," under nose; "accept myself." You can continue tapping this way, with shorter phrases that make up the complete reminder statement, until you move your discomfort down to 0 or 1. Then, you might want to go through one more round with the complete reminder statement and re-rate your discomfort to insure you truly are at 0 or 1 with your discomfort around the issue.

Tapping can be done on ourselves with any emotion, any block or belief that we no longer want to hold onto. We can tap when we are angry at a loved one; "Even though, I am angry that ____ yelled at me, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap when we have had a bad day; "Even though, I have had a bad day, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap for leaving our pet while we go on extended vacation; "Even though I feel guilt for leaving Fido while I go on vacation, I still deeply and completely accept myself." You have probably noticed that the affirmation stays the same no matter what the reminder statement is. This is important to disrupt the carried emotions and re-charge our body's energy into a positive direction and to restore the naturally recurring flow of the human body.

EFT is a great technique to use for self-care and to help balance yourself.  For people suffering with trauma and addictions, balancing with EFT can help; although the memory may stay, the emotional charge will be gone. For every day issues, we can resolve the issue and move on to be more balanced throughout the day. EFT leads to positive changes in thinking and a more balanced life.

Resources:

The EFT Manual by Gary Craig

www.eft-for-transformation.com  On this website, you might want to check out information about The Personal Peace Procedure and further information about Gary Craig, the founder of EFT.

www.emofree.com

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 20:00

Opening to the Shadow Self

Call it suppression or repression or whatever... the point is that we have a tendency to avoid pain. Not because we are wimpy - quite the opposite actually - much of the time we avoid pain as a way to "stay strong". We avoid pain because it feels overwhelmingly huge and there just doesn't seem to be enough "space" to deal with it. We think that we have to stay strong, for our partner, our kids, our job, or our quivering sanity. After all, life just keeps moving, and for most of us, at a pretty quick pace. So, what do we do? We stuff it down... we tuck it and run. We sequester the shadow parts of our self and we keep moving. We survive.

Once the unwanted parts get tucked or stuffed, we don't really want to dredge them up. We convince ourselves that the unpleasantries of our past are better left in the dark recesses of our minds; "I mean, what good would it do to bring it all up now", we might say to ourselves. In fact, over time we may not consciously remember what we pushed into to the shadowy corners of our psyche. We may develop nifty habits to keep the threatening information from bubbling to the surface, like addictive behaviors, unhealthy ways of thinking, or maladaptive emotional patterns. These aversive measures do keep the blackness at bay, at least for awhile, but they don't hold.

Life has a way of reminding us of those things we don't want to think about: The weight of an old betrayal that we relegated to the attic of our mind threatens to break through the sagging ceiling and drop into the living room of life each time someone threatens to leave us; a shot of fear rips through our body when we pass by the craggy door of our psyche's cellar where long-ago we banished our unwanted shame related to hurting a friend or family member; we pull the emotional curtains tight to shield us from seeing the characterological garbage we threw over the back fence of feeling. It's all tucked and stuffed... but not necessarily gone.

Beating back the darkness of our secret inner life isn't a one-time act... the self-directed violence must be repeated and maintained. It takes energy to keep the pain away and this saps us of our creativity, spontaneity, and vital life-force. It's like going to a cocktail party, knowing that a difficult person will be there, but foolishly thinking that the person can "just be avoided". Instead, you end up spending the whole night looking over your shoulder and trying to time your approach to the punchbowl so that you don't run into the person. As a result, the party passes you by while a critical part of your existence is consumed by avoiding what is feared and unwanted.

Paradoxically, the very act of avoidance can actually precipitate the thing we fear most. For example, a man may fear that his partner will discover that he is "boring" - a deeply embedded negative belief that he has carried for many years. He buries this terrifying thought under a cement slab of pleasantness and acquiescent behavior in an attempt to please his partner and stave off the prospect of being labeled "a wet-blanket". Yet, his very attempts to always present the most pleasing parts of himself (an impossible bit of chocolaty self-protection thinly coated in a shell of selflessness), leave his partner feeling disconnected and unexcited about the relationship. Unwittingly, his avoidance helped create the very thing he feared most. It has been said, "What we run from, we run into" and "What we resist, persists."

Also, we would like to think that the process of cutting out the unwanted parts of our self and our life is crisp and clean. Like a Beverly Hill's surgeon excising a darkened mole from our backside with deft precision, under anesthesia, and in sterile conditions. I'm afraid to say that it isn't so neat. It's more like taking a dull hacksaw to our own leg that is stuck in a rusty trap, while running from a bear, for which the trap was intended. Severing parts of the self is usually done under extreme duress for the purpose of mental, emotional, and physical survival. It is messy, imprecise, and it comes with a cost. In the cutting and compartmentalizing process, we often lose parts of ourselves that, under more favorable circumstances, we would rather keep; parts of ourselves that are necessary to live a fully-functional life.

For example, imagine you receive sudden warning that there is a fire in the office building where you work and you are told that you must exit immediately. In a panic, you swipe the contents from your desk into a black plastic sack and run out the door. You survive, but much was lost in the fire and it was a harrowing experience - one that you would like to forget. You put the bag of personal effects in a dimly lit closet in your home and shut the door. But whenever you pass by the closet, you're reminded of the tragic fire, the loss of loved-ones, and the contents of the black bag inside. You try to avoid walking by the closet. You try to forget what's in the bag. You buy a new coat so that you won't have to retrieve the old one that's in the closet. You develop a series of daily routines that support your semi-conscious avoidant intentions. Over time, it may feel like all is forgotten, but in reality the pain still there...; calling out from the darkness.

Years later, you decide to move from the home - the one with the "forgotten" closet. With a packing box in hand, you open the closet door and stumble upon the black bag with its seemingly terrible remains. You consider burying it in the packing box under a heap of old coats and sweaters, but something tells you that there is no more running, no more hiding, no more pretending. With trepidation, you open the sack, still hinting of smoke, and you begin to acknowledge the fear, guilt, and grief that you have long avoided. It is in that very process of opening to the pain that something quite unexpected happens: Mingled with the vilified vestiges of the severed self are poignant reminders of strength, joy, love, and connection: a picture of your colleagues at the holiday party, an engraved pen from your boss, a thank you card from a friend received in a time of need.

When the unwanted parts of our self are banished to the black bags of our being, they aren't carefully sorted and neatly tucked away for easy retrieval. Instead, various parts of the self are indiscriminately sacked and shut into a closet that, despite our best efforts to "be strong and carry on", won't be dismissed or forgotten. Most importantly, buried with the shadow parts of our self are the flickering lights of strength and resilience - the joy, the love, and the connection - that are instrumental in the process of learning to embrace our vulnerabilities. We need all parts of our self to become more awake, spontaneous, creative and alive - we are most alive when we bring wholehearted presence to all parts of our self. Life isn't about merely surviving, it's about thriving! We thrive by opening to the shadow parts of our self, and in so doing we discover the natural source of our brilliant luminosity.

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

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