The Meadows Blog

Tuesday, 23 July 2013 20:00

“Can a horse feel love?”

A question posed by a group member during an Equine Therapy session.

By: Ann M. Taylor, Equine Specialist at The Meadows

We hear all sorts of questions at Equine; some of them make you stop and think. Either you simply don’t know the answer or because you want to be sure that you’re giving the most accurate information. This question however never required a second thought.

"Of course they can!"

The first time we had the privilege of working with RC was eye opening. As I led him out of the stall I was told by a fellow Equine staff that "RC really loves deeply". Looking at him I tried to see what she saw. In the breeze way stood this older, rough looking horse that seemed to me to have seen his best days and none of them were this year, or the year before. Branded on his left rear quarter a large letter R and on the right a large letter C. Hence the name "RC".

RC has a disease called Cushing's that affects his pituitary gland. A symptom of Cushing's is that he can't shed his winter coat. So, being summer, he was sporting a body clip. It was similar to something you may see after your youngest gets hold of dads beard trimmer. His eyes looked dead tired and I was not even sure he would make it down the hill to the round pen.

He sighed heavy as we walked down the hill and he managed three breaks before we were at the round pen gate. He eased his way through the gate and closing it behind him I was genuinely concerned that RC may not be the horse for the job. Although the activity was pretty easy for a horse I doubted that he had enough life in him to really be effective during a session.

The group arrived and checked in. The whole time RC stood with his nose against the fence dozing in the shade occasionally his tail would toss to one side or the other. He reminded me of an old weathered frame of a house gently blowing back and forth in the soft breeze, and I wondered if he may decide to just collapse under his own weight right there.

When the group was ready we opened the round pen gate and they went inside. Lazy eyes opened and considered the group from across the pen. Idle brown ears now perked up and watched the group with intent. He turned to face them completely and there was LIFE! What was a geriatric case of a horse shifted into a curiously intent and animated creature. He rubbed up against the members of the group and took time to explore each person.

The entire session his eyes only asked one question "What do you need?". He stood closely behind a group member in strong silent support as they shared around a difficult topic. He pressed his head gently into another Participant who struggled with intimacy. I watched this horse decide what each person needed and then be that for them. There was no doubt that RC LOVED the people in that group, and every group for the rest of the week. Over and over we were amazed at how he could identify just exactly what someone needed in the moment.

When the group would end RC would watch them leave through the gate. That big brown head would drop back down and there was that old house frame blowing in the wind again. At the end of the first day there were smiles, laughter, Ah Ha moments and some tears. It was a good day. When everyone was gone I slipped the halter over his graying muzzle and scratched his neck. Once again I was worried that the walk up the hill to the barn might be too much for him. Opening the gate I could hear his old hips pop as he moved that heavy frame out of the round pen.

Suddenly there was an unexpected tension on the rope. Spinning around, I found myself staring at RC's rump as HE led ME up the hill! I could have skied behind him! That was the best laugh of the week.

So can a horse love? I don't think there is anyone better who can teach us about love than an old brown horse.

Special thanks to Philly and Cindy at Remuda Equine for your willingness to share the gifts that you call horses.

Published in Blog

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

Have you ever driven someplace in your car and then couldn't remember the entire drive or what you passed along the way? That's an example of not being mindful that many people can experience daily. It's the same routine and you place yourself on auto-pilot, not noticing what you are doing or what is going on around you. In this article, we will explore the art of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to what you are doing and what is going on around you.  Mindfulness is about living with openness and experiencing possibilities by paying attention to the present moment. When we practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and function in a more balanced way. Practicing mindfulness helps us to gain insight into ourselves and the environment around us. Practicing mindfulness helps us treat our relationships with patience, respect, and kindness.

How do we start to develop mindfulness? There are many qualities to incorporate in our lives to live in mindfulness. We will consider 4 of the most important qualities of mindfulness. These are

  • Non-conceptual - Mindfulness is awareness without being tied into the thought process - just being aware and noticing. You might be aware of your own body and how you are feeling.  You might be aware of the environment around you. Is the sun shining? Is there a breeze in the air? What noises do you hear in the present moment?
  • Present-Centered - Mindfulness is always about being in the present moment. Ask yourself: Am I in the present right this moment? Am I present when I am eating, talking, listening, driving...?
  • Non-judgmental - Mindfulness means being aware and observing without judging. Can I accept things as they are in the present moment?
  • Intentional - Intention is one of the most important elements of mindfulness. Mindfulness always includes an intention. What is my intention in the present moment?

There are many benefits of Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has been found to decrease medical conditions and psychological issues. Much research has been done to show that being mindful and using mindfulness decreases psoriasis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure and asthma. Psychological benefits of practicing mindfulness include:

  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Decreased panic
  • Increased self-awareness and acceptance

One of the most important benefits of practicing mindfulness is decreasing stress. When we decrease stress, we can decrease medical and psychological issues and increase our general well-being. There are five steps to a mindful approach to life which can be applied to every aspect of life.   These steps are:

  1. STOP - Take a step back.

  2. BREATHE - Take a deep breath in and out and reconnect with the present moment.

  3. PAY ATTENTION - Be aware of what is going on with you and your environment, so you can see clearly.

  4. Consciously RESPOND - Use an intention for how you want to respond in a way that shows respect for yourself and for others.

  5. OBSERVE consequences - The consequences may be positive or negative. The consequences will be a benefit in choosing how you want to approach similar situations as they arise.

One way to practice mindfulness is through mindfulness meditation. A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and a renowned Zen master, sums up how meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand: "Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do."

John Kabat-Zinn states that mindfulness is about attention and awareness in anything we are doing. The practice of mindfulness includes not only mindfulness meditation, yet the actions we take in every day life. Kabat Zinn warns us that mindfulness is not a cure-all or magical solution to life's problems. It is up to us to choose our path and chart our course.  Mindfulness provides a simple, yet powerful path for getting us in touch with our wisdom and vitality. When we follow this path, we can improve our lives and our relationships.

Like the title of this article states, mindfulness can be a part of everyday life; eating, talking, driving, spending and living. Let's consider each of these areas of everyday life.

  • Eating - How many times have you eaten your lunch quickly to get back to work? Have you ever just eaten and then minutes later not even realized what you ate? Mindfulness reminds you to pay attention to what you put in our mouth - the texture, the smell, the taste of the tiny morsels as they hit your tongue. Ask yourself: "Am I eating nutritious food?"
  • Talking - Can you think of a time that you said something and then regretted it seconds later? Have you ever spoken to someone and seen a look of confusion on the listener's face? When you are talking, are you paying attention to the words you are using and to who your audience is? What does your tone of voice and body language say? Mindfulness reminds us to speak in a respectful way, sharing to be known in a way that the listener can respond in a respectful way.
  • Driving - The example at the beginning of this article speaks to mindful driving. I know that I have often driven on auto-pilot and been surprised when I arrived at my destination, wondering how I got there! When you are driving have you removed distractions in order to be present-centered and enjoy the drive? These distractions can be the cell phone, the radio, conversations with other people in the car... For different people, different radio stations will lead to distractions. For me, it is a sports radio station. If the sportscasters are speaking about something I strongly disagree with or strongly agree with, I can get excited and forget to pay attention to my driving. What radio station is it for you?

  • Shopping - Think about a shopping trip you have gone on; a time you decided to treat yourself to a shopping spree. After the shopping spree, did you have buyer's guilt? This happens when we are not mindful in our spending. When you go on shopping trip, are you mindful of your budget? An idea is to leave your credit cards at home and just take the cash you are allowing yourself to spend. This is tough for most people, yet the benefits are that you will be able to treat yourself and not have "buyer's guilt" later!

  • Living mindfully - All this leads to mindful living. When we pay attention patiently and with the concept of acceptance, we can lead a more peaceful, stress-free life. Mindfulness helps us to live our lives more fully, moment by moment. How will you be mindful today?

Let's explore how mindfulness relates to recovery. Mindfulness is an integral part of recovery. Addiction, depression, and anxiety can all be looked at as dis-eases; they all are a suffering. Incorporating the Four Insights, by Terese Jacobs-Stewart into our recovery process can be a source of comfort and relief.

The First Insight - Suffering: Suffering is an intrinsic part of life. Life serves up one form or another. It is not anyone's fault; it just is. We face the truth of the First Step of the Twelve Steps by admitting we are powerless and that by continuing to deny and try to manage our addictions, depression, anxiety... makes our lives unmanageable. For addicts, addiction and codependency are the First Insight. For others, the First Insight may have to do with change, depression, anxiety, illness, loss or death.

The Second Insight - Our response to suffering: The second reality that we have in internal response to the suffering we encounter. For every external event, we have an internal reaction. Our responses may compound the suffering that already exists when we numb with drugs or alcohol, when we blame, when we try to manage and control our addiction or depression. We may choose to become rigorously honest and use mindfulness to develop greater self-awareness and self-control.

The Third Insight - Transforming our response: We are not doomed to be stuck! We do not have to keep suffering. We can change our internal responses to the things we cannot control. An ongoing practice of mindfulness and meditation can change our brain chemistry. We must be willing to deeply engage in mindfulness, spirituality and to welcome change.

The Fourth Insight - A Path to Transformation: The fourth insight is that there truly is a path out of suffering. This path is about continuing practices of mindfulness, meditation and ethical living. The Twelve Steps give us steps to follow that are similar to mindfulness practice.

So, honor yourself by practicing mindfulness. This will help you open a new foundation for building the life you want. With mindfulness, you can face day to day situations with a new vision of who you are. Be gentle with yourself. Cultivating mindfulness takes time and patience. Mindfulness can lead to a realization of your basic nature, your true greatness and your potential.

For further information about Mindfulness, you might consider these books:

Wherever You Go, There You Are -; John Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living -; John Kabat Zinn

Cultivating Lasting Happiness: A 7 Step Guide to Mindfulness - Terry Fralich

Peace in Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life; - Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness -; Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness and the Twelve Steps - Terese Jacobs-Stewart

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

The Meadows announced the addition of Patrick Carnes’ Gentle Path Program. Through this definitive and exclusive license agreement with New Freedom Corporation, Gentle Path will be relocating from Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Miss. to The Meadows’ newest property, Vista, located two miles from the main campus. Vista will open on October 15, 2013, offering a 26-bed facility and an exclusive and confidential setting for males 18 years and older.

The Gentle Path program is based on the ground breaking work of Dr. Carnes’ Thirty-Task model which has been empirically validated to be an effective form of treatment for sexually compulsive behavior.  Patients of the Gentle Path program undergo a comprehensive diagnostic assessment prior to participation in the residential treatment program. Patients focus on trauma therapy in addition to treatment for mood disturbance, anxiety, or addictions such as chemical dependency and process addictions.

"The Meadows is pleased that Gentle Path will join our organization and provide us the opportunity to expand our services to men who suffer from a sexual disorder," said Jim Dredge, CEO for The Meadows. "We are thrilled that Dr. Patrick Carnes has returned to The Meadows as a new Senior Fellow, as well as directing the Gentle Path program."

Gentle Path offers a comprehensive level of holistic treatment and services which includes 12-Step groups and an intensive one-week Family Care Program. Family week brings together patients'; loved ones to assist in dealing with difficult issues, identify the problems they face and set goals for recovery. In addition, The Meadows' signature Survivors Workshop will be added to the program, along with Equine Therapy and Somatic Experiencing®.

"Walking onto The Meadows campus was like returning home," said Dr. Patrick Carnes. "I look forward to a collaborative, exciting, and innovative new version of the Gentle Path Program."

Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., C.A.S., is a nationally known speaker on sex addiction and recovery issues.  He is the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) and Gentle Path Press. From 1996 until 2004, Dr. Carnes was Clinical Director for Sexual Disorder Services at The Meadows. His achievements include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), where they present an annual "Carnes Award" to researchers and clinicians who have made exceptional contributions to the field of sexual health.

Dr. Carnes is the author of Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1992), Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict (1989), The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (1997), Open Hearts (1999), Facing the Shadow (2001), In the Shadows of the Net (2001), and The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction (2002), Recovery Zone (2009), and A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles (2012). Dr. Carnes' article, "18.4 Sexual Addiction," appears in Kaplan & Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (2005).

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows Gentle Path Program, 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
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 20:00

The Recovery World Loses a Pioneer

David Briick, instrumental in opening five substance abuse and behavioral health treatment centers including The Meadows, Cottonwood Hill, Cottonwood de Tucson, Cottonwood de Albuquerque, and Cottonwood de Austin, died a few days short of his 81st birthday on Friday, June 7, 2013, at his daughter's home in Nunnelly, Tennessee.

With over 41 years of long-term recovery, David helped thousands to change their lives and heal from addiction. He remained active in the recovery community and spoke openly about his triumph over alcoholism until his death. He served as the Executive Director of the Councils' on Alcoholism in both Pinal and Pima Counties in Arizona.

In 1992, David began his battle with cancer and his public campaign through Arizona's Tobacco Free Ways, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association to educate school children and adults about the consequences of nicotine and substance abuse. Through numerous speaking engagements in and around the state of Arizona, he shared his story until the summer of 2012.

"David Briick was a pioneer in the development of alcoholism treatment centers back in the 70’s. He was originally the person who hired me to work at The Meadows and had a very positive influence in my life. He will be missed," said Pia Mellody, Senior Fellow and Senior Clinical Advisor at The Meadows.

A celebration of life will be held at the Arizona Inn, Tucson, Arizona, September 8, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. For more information, contact Cheryl Brown at cheryl.brown@live.com or 931-996-3747.

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

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