The Meadows Blog

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 00:00

What A Difference 40 Years Makes

As we look back on four decades spent at the forefront of treatment for addiction and other behavioral health disorders, we wanted to learn more from our biggest influencers and supporters about why The Meadows legacy matters. Why have we gained a reputation for being able to help people who still struggled after trying to get help elsewhere?

Mostly it comes down to the talent and knowledge of our team of Senior Fellows, our commitment to innovation and understanding the latest in neurobiology, and a staff that truly cares about every patient.

Special Offer on The Meadows Inpatient Programs

We want to help as many people as possible find the freedom that comes with real recovery. So, for a limited time, you can attend one of our treatment programs at the discounted rate of $45,500. Call today. The offer ends June 30, 2016, and spaces are limited.

Keep reading to hear what some of our leaders and proponents had to say about why The Meadows long and distinguished history matters.

The Meadows Legacy and Influence

It’s been 20 years since Dr. Patrick Carnes (Senior Fellow at Gentle Path at The Meadows) convinced Pia Mellody (Senior Fellow at The Meadows) to sign on to the idea of a Senior Fellow concept, though at the time that is not what we were called. I would be the first person to step into these shoes, with Patrick and Pia already being there in their positions.

My historical work with family of origin issues made this role a perfect fit for me clinically, as Pia had many years previously established the need to address underlying codependency issues in patients struggling with addiction and behavioral health disorders and that model was already integral to The Meadows programming.

My hope—something The Meadows has always supported—was to be able to do hands-on group work, to assist in program development, and bring greater awareness to the public about the depth and breadth of excellent psychiatric and addiction treatment offered at The Meadows.

It has been exhilarating to be a part of the expansion efforts at The Meadows; assisting in program design within the family program, the workshops, the Intensive Outpatient Program, structural and educational enhancements within the primary program, and most currently the development of the Claudia Black Center for Young Adults. Congratulation to The Meadows, and a call out to Pia Mellody!

It is hard to find an area of mental health or addiction recovery that hasn’t been influenced in one way or another by The Meadows. When I think of the thousands upon thousands of patients and families whose lives have been forever changed as a result of The Meadows, it is an overwhelming and very humbling experience. The Meadows’ history and legacy inspires me to strive every day to ensure we are pursuing excellence and that we do all we can to be a source of hope and light to those we are honored to treat.

I have had the opportunity to see The Meadows at work throughout the past 12 years, and the beauty of the underlying core foundation philosophy has been to respect the dignity of every person who comes to treatment here. This is something that I try to instill in my team so that it also applies to all those who inquire about treatment at The Meadows. I count it a privilege to work at a company that holds this value so dear. It is the very thing that we are trying to bring to our patients and workshop participants, and I try to make it foundational in the intake experience for those inquiring about treatment and those who work in the department.

I have worked in the field of mental health and addictions for 41 years. I know that the two areas of mental health and addictions are inseparable. I refer patients to The Meadows because I get results. The treatment that my patients receive at The Meadows allows them to be well on their way to a life that is satisfying and fulfilling. I can be more beneficial to them on an outpatient basis because they can actually "do" what needs to be done for them to feel confident in their journey. They are no longer plagued with constant triggering as they move through their life. This life is not a dress rehearsal, and my patients who complete treatment at The Meadows become fully engaged as players in their lives and start to leave their "victim" behind.

Published in News & Announcements
Friday, 13 May 2016 00:00

A Tribute to John Bradshaw

collage john

By Jim Dredge, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare CEO

John Bradshaw’s presence looms large at The Meadows. His seminal works on toxic shame, dysfunctional families and reclaiming one’s inner child are central to our model for treating emotional trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral health disorders. We were heartbroken to hear of his passing earlier this week.

He was a Senior Fellow whose work influenced many of our other senior fellows. Dr. Claudia Black said recently in a Facebook post that John “has left a great legacy. For me personally, he was a dear friend. I have many poignant memories.”

Part of his legacy includes an ability to connect with people on a deeply personal level, even when he was delivering his message to an audience of thousands or through a television screen. “Everything I write about I struggle with myself,” he once said in The Observer of London. Perhaps that very personal understanding of the struggles faced by those with addiction, childhood trauma, and other mental health issues is one of the things that allowed him to speak about complex psychological concepts in a way that was relatable and deeply meaningful to so many.

This amazing gift of his lead him to become a household name in the 1990s through appearances on PBS—for which he received an Emmy nomination— and on popular talk shows like “Oprah” and “Sally Jessy Raphael.” He also led workshops all over the world and wrote many best-selling books, including Healing the Shame That Binds You, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child and Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon is Over.

His aim through all of his work was to help people improve their lives by learning to love and accept themselves. He helped a great many people overcome the shame, rage, resentment, and despair that fueled their addictions and self-destructive behaviors and encouraged them to live more purposeful, fulfilling lives.

Above and beyond his professional accomplishments, his joy, his compassion, and his spirit of kindness were an inspiration and guiding light to us all. “The number of people John helped over the decades has to be in the six figures,” said Shannon Spollen, Director of Community Partnerships at The Meadows. “I couldn’t help but smile whenever I was with him these last couple of years…”

John’s presence will continue to loom large at The Meadows, and our continued commitment to helping people heal from trauma and addiction will be our never-ending tribute to his work and his life. He will be terribly missed.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 12 May 2016 00:00

Inpatient, Outpatient, or IOP?

Most psychiatrists and behavioral health professionals agree that addiction is a complex disorder caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. It can also vary in intensity; The DSM-5 defines addiction as a spectrum disorder that can be categorized as “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” Many other mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, can be described in much the same way. Because there can be so much variation in the causes and severity of an individual’s disorder, there are varying levels of treatment to meet patients’ differing needs.

Generally speaking, behavioral health and addiction treatment programs can be described as inpatient, outpatient, or intensive outpatient (IOP). The biggest differences among each of the three are in the complexity and severity of the conditions they treat, the length of the programs, and the patients’ living arrangements.

What Level of Treatment Do I Need?

Before you make a decision about treatment, it’s important that you are fully assessed by a qualified professional—a therapist, addiction counselor, psychiatrist, or maybe even one of our Intake specialists. They can give you feedback and help you decide what might be best for you. It is crucial that you make your decision based on what you truly need to be able to reach and maintain recovery. Entering a treatment program that does not match the level of severity you’re experiencing in your illness can put you at a greater risk for relapse and a greater risk of serious harm. Addiction and mental illnesses can be deadly diseases.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment programs, also sometimes called residential treatment programs, aim to treat the most severe and complex addictions and disorders. They are full-time programs that are usually anywhere from 28 days to 6 months long. They provide patients with a controlled environment in which they can begin untangling the web of physical, emotional, and interpersonal havoc that their out-of-control conditions have wrought.

In an inpatient treatment facility, patients have no access to drugs or alcohol; so, the chances of them relapsing while they are in treatment are extremely low. They live at the treatment center—away from work, friends, and family— so that they can focus exclusively on working through their emotional trauma and behavioral and on developing new coping skills to help them succeed in their recovery.

A good inpatient treatment center will also offer 24-hour access to medical care. (The Meadows’ programs, for example, are certified by the Joint Commission, due to their commitment to excellence in providing medical services.) They also will have experienced well-qualified and credentialed psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists available to assess patients, develop individualized treatment programs for them, and meet with patients individually and in group settings.

It is also ideal for inpatient programs to have a family component, to extend the healing process to throughout the patient’s family and help them learn how to build a stronger support system for one another. The Meadows has a Family Week, for example, where family members are invited to join the patient on campus and work with them through group and individual counseling sessions.

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment programs are part-time programs usually requiring 4 – 10 hours per week of meetings including individual and group therapy that focus on the development of real-world coping skills for maintaining sobriety. Outpatient programs typically last for three to six months.

Patients who are in an outpatient program can continue to work, attend school, and even live at home; though, sometimes it is recommended that patients stay in transitional, sober living housing where they can get additional support from their peers in recovery and get away from any undue influences enabling their addictions. Meetings and counseling sessions at an outpatient center are typically held at night or in the early morning so that people can continue on with regular daily schedules.

Outpatient treatment is not the right choice for everyone. Addiction professionals typically do not recommend outpatient treatment to those who face a high level of danger from their particular disorders. Outpatient treatment can, however, be a good option for someone with a mild addiction, or for someone “stepping down” from inpatient treatment. Many people in recovery choose to transition from inpatient rehab to an intensive outpatient or outpatient program so that they can practice applying the skills they learned in inpatient treatment to the real-world while still getting the extra support and guidance they need.

What Is the Difference between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient?

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) fall somewhere between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. The main difference between an outpatient program and an intensive outpatient program is the amount of time spent in treatment and related activities each week. Many IOPs require at least 12 hours per week, sometimes more. The Meadows IOP, for example, requires three hours of group therapy per day, four days per week; an individual therapy session each week, and an hour long psychiatry session each week.

IOPs are great for people who need a higher level of care than a non-intensive outpatient program can provide, but whose conditions aren’t quite severe enough to require an inpatient program. They are also great for those who are transitioning from an inpatient program and into full independent living.

Both inpatient and outpatient programs offer services such as individual counseling sessions, therapeutic groups, 12 step meetings and family therapy. A good IOP will also offer a number of additional support services, like weekly individual meetings with psychiatrists, small groups lead by experienced and well-trained therapists, expressive arts, yoga, and more.

Get The Help You Need

Addiction, depression, anxiety and other behavioral health disorders are often described as chronic illnesses; Recovery from them is a continual process. It is not unusual for a person on the severe end of the spectrum to need to complete both an inpatient and an outpatient program. It is also not unusual for a person on the “mild” to “moderate” to scale to need only an outpatient program.

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about what your needs are. It can be difficult to leave your friends, family, or job behind for a month or more to enter inpatient treatment or to move into sober living housing for an IOP. But, as hard as making that change can be, living with an addiction or disorder if often even harder, both on you and on the people you love. Make sure you get the kind of treatment you need and deserve.

Contact Us

The Meadows has four different inpatient programs in Wickenburg, Arizona helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, eating disorders and many other mood disorders and personality disorders. The Meadows also has an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in the beautiful McDowell mountains of Scottsdale, Arizona, that is perfect for those transitioning from inpatient treatment or entering recovery for the first time.

If you need help but aren’t sure where to start, please call one of our Intake coordinators today. They can help you determine which program may be right for you. 800-244-4949.

Published in Treatment & Recovery

By Aleah Johnson, The Meadows Alumni Coordinator

What if I were to tell you that all aspects of your past would be used as an asset? Would you believe it or would you instantly regret and want to change it?

I have a love/hate relationship with the word "acceptance." As a stubborn addict, I am not supposed to agree with everything, right?

What is Acceptance?

Acceptance is defined as "the act of taking or receiving something offered." Sometimes I really have to stop and take inventory of the things in my life, both personally and professionally and ask myself if I am fighting or if I am accepting.

One of the most crucial bits of advice I have learned in recovery is to accept my past as an asset. It is important to accept ourselves where we are on our journey and be able to leverage ourselves for good.

The past is a place or state of being in an earlier period of a one's life, career, etc., that might be thought of as shameful or embarrassing. We have all done things in our past that we may not be proud of— choosing to resist or deny our past only leads to more suffering. Acceptance allows us to live in the present moment and not "future trip" or worry about the past.

Resistance is often about control; the more we try to control our lives, the more out of control they get. Acceptance allows emotional balance and gives us the ability to accept people and things exactly as they are, even when we can't see the WHY or when we're not getting what we want.

Finding Serenity

Acceptance is a key solution to our problems. When we are disturbed, it is because we find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of life—unacceptable. We can find no serenity until we accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at that moment.

Until we accept ourselves, our situations and our life, on life's terms, we cannot be happy. We need not concentrate so much on what happens in the world as on what needs to be changed in ourselves and in our attitudes. (Page 417, The Big Book)

Early in my recovery, an old-timer in one of my first meetings told me, "You can make this as easy or as hard as you want, little lady, but ultimately the choice is up to you." I fully accepted this not only as a piece of advice but also as a challenge.

Nobody is perfect and everyone has battles and struggles; this is part of this amazing journey that we call life. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. It is our job to accept all aspects, to start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can to make the best out of the life we have left.

Join The Meadows Alumni Association

If you are a graduate from any of The Meadows inpatient programs, The Meadows Intensive Outpatient program, any weeklong intensive workshop at the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows, or a family member who attended Family Week, you are welcome to join The Meadows Alumni Association!

Sign up today to receive our monthly email newsletter and to be kept up-to-date on any relevant, recovery-related news and events in your area.

Published in Blog

Adult Coloring Books were big sellers this past holiday season. If you checked’s list of top-twenty best-sellers at any time in the last couple of months, you would find that up to 10 of the books listed on any given day were coloring books. The books feature mandalas, secret gardens, enchanted forests and a number of other intricately patterned designs.

Can They Play a Role in Therapy and Recovery?

So, what’s behind the coloring craze? Many people feel that coloring has stress-relieving qualities and helps to facilitate the practice of mindfulness. Some even consider them to be “therapeutic,” but behavioral health professionals caution against chalking them up as “art therapy.”

Jennifer Noto, The Meadows primary Expressive Arts Therapist, says that although coloring is no substitute for therapy, it can be a useful tool to help patients self-regulate and focus. We asked her to share some of her insights into coloring, its therapeutic properties, and its relationship to Expressive Arts Therapy.

What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive arts therapy (EAT) is defined as “the use of [visual] art, music, dance/movement, drama, poetry/creative writing, play and sandtray within the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation or health care. (Source: Malchiodi, C. (ed.) (2005). Expressive Therapies. New York, NY: Guilford Press.)

The overarching goals of our Expressive Arts Therapy program at The Meadows are to externalize emotions and thoughts for deeper self-reflection, challenge perfectionism, and learn appropriate spontaneity. There are usually more specific goals in sessions such as trauma resolution and resolving core issues.

What are some ways that we use expressive arts therapy at The Meadows? Does coloring play a role?

At all of our programs—The Meadows, Gentle Path at The Meadows, the Claudia Black Young Adult Center and Remuda Ranch at The Meadows—we encourage patients to create spontaneous art based on themes that we use in group sessions. Themes may include: emotions, boundaries, positive and challenging childhood memories, cultivating safety, identifying personal strengths, cultivating body awareness, working with control issues, etc. Patients use a variety of art materials such as drawing, painting, sculpting or working with found-objects to create the art.

For example, in one of our weekly group Expressive Arts Therapy sessions, I present a theme and everyone works on projects related to that theme unless it’s not a good fit for them. What’s so interesting about art therapy, though, is that usually what the person needs to work on that day is what comes up, regardless of the theme or project.

Let’s say we’re doing a project where I’m having patients paint masks and I’ve asked them to let the outside of the mask represent their outside selves (how they present to the world), and let the inside represent who they really are inside. For some patients, this may be just the right project at just the right time. But, if a patient is in their final week of treatment they may no longer find it useful to go back and look at how they were presenting to the world before treatment. So, they may use the mask project to instead look at their authentic self versus their addict self. There’s always room for someone to interpret the project in their own way. And if the project doesn’t work for them at all, I’ll just give them something else.

We seldom do anything coloring related, since the process of creating one’s own imagery is significant to gaining personal insights.

Why do you think adult coloring books have suddenly become so popular?

Well, we’ve had the Mandala coloring books at The Meadows for some time now—at least in the four years since I’ve been here—so it’s not entirely new to us. Even before they became best sellers, we would have patients sitting and coloring in group therapy sessions. Many of the primary therapists would encourage them to do that because it helped them focus and self-regulate. The main difference in the coloring books that are popular now is that the designs are more elaborate.

A few months ago, in early February or March, I noticed that patients started showing up with the latest coloring books, like The Secret Garden. They’d say things like, “Oh, my mom sent me this and it’s really helping me.” I thought it seemed like a great tool to help patients focus and relax.

I wonder if they’re so popular in the public now because there’s generally more awareness about self-care and mindfulness and people see coloring as an outlet. People are probably also drawn to it because they know they can do it without having the pressure of creating something from scratch. I think it’s just a smart way of doing mindful work.

Coloring has been labeled as “therapeutic.” What’s the difference between therapy and an activity that is therapeutic?

There is definitely a difference between therapy and therapeutic activities. For example, coloring can help calm someone down in the moment, getting them more present and ready to do therapy and address their issues. If someone has childhood trauma, coloring may relax them for a time and teach them a healthier coping skill for distress. But, it won’t resolve underlying core issues, core messages and nervous system dysregulation.

I definitely think coloring can be therapeutic and healthy for many people. Any mindful activity that doesn’t have negative consequences, and is done in moderation, can help a patient feel more calm and centered.

For what types of conditions or issues could coloring possibly help?

I believe coloring could be helpful with patients suffering from anxiety, depression or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It could be calming for those with anxiety, enlivening for those with depression (working with colors; focusing on enjoyable imagery), and it could help those with ADD focus their attention.

Are there times when Expressive Arts Therapy would not appropriate for a patient?

Since Expressive Arts Therapy is so diverse and can include music, movement, play and drama, there is usually something that every patient will connect with. Many patients enter the art room with fear and a bias that they aren’t creative and leave the session with a sense of empowerment and playfulness. I have even had patients who have art-related trauma (i.e., their abuser was an artist, or they were sexually assaulted at art school) who end up finding the process helpful, because they are able to renegotiate their relationship with art and reduce traumatic responses. There are a small handful of people who come in with a dislike of art and leave with the same perception, yet even for these patients, I think the process of trying something new is significant, and therefore, not contraindicated.

I like to read the energy of the room before assigning a theme or project in order to make appropriate modifications. For example, if I’m with a group of patients from Remuda Ranch, and I can tell that they’re feeling kind of frustrated about meals, or are having a hard morning, or are feeling rushed, I’ll think, “Okay, they just need to play today.” So, instead of asking them to take on a childhood trauma that day I may ask them to just pick their medium and topic of choice and see where it takes them.

How does Expressive Arts Therapy fit into the overall Meadows Model for treating patients?

At The Meadows, our patients are at a point in life where they need a full regime of therapies and approaches to combat their trauma and addiction problems. The Meadows Model is an important part of the work I do in the art room. I’m also a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner and incorporate this viewpoint into my approach. I think it’s important to have an understanding of the core issues as well as how trauma impacts the physiology when working with any patient in any approach.

Expressive Arts Therapy is so fabulous because it can work with any type of treatment! Patients will often share their art projects with their primary group or in an individual trauma session. We work closely as a team at The Meadows and feed off the work each counselor is doing with a particular patient. For example, a patient may create artwork of a “safe place” in group with me, and then take that for use in their EMDR session. Expressive Arts Therapy also works well with the 12-step approach, as we can explore topics of acceptance, surrender, courage, and consequences of addiction.

Individualized Treatment to Fit Your Needs

Whether it’s Expressive Arts Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, or 12-step, The Meadows programs can find the right combination to help you get on track and stay on track with your recovery. Call us today for more information. 800-244-4949

Published in Treatment & Recovery

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