The Meadows Blog

Dr. Shelley Uram on One's Authentic Nature

One of America's most respected centers for treating trauma and addiction, The Meadows presents a 16-part video series, viewable on YouTube, in which Dr. Shelley Uram addresses topics ranging from the sense of self to the benefits of Somatic Experiencing.

In the installment titled "One's Authentic Nature," Dr. Uram, a psychologist and senior fellow at The Meadows, discusses the authentic nature, or authentic self, inside every person.

"Everybody has an authentic nature," she explains. "Most people are very unaware of it." While we're born with bodies and brains that are survival- and fear-based, our authentic nature often pulls us in the opposite direction.

"The more primitive parts of your brain don't even understand authenticity," Dr. Uram adds.

In other videos in this series, Dr. Uram shares her expertise on trauma triggers, addiction, and the effects of emotional trauma on brain development.

Shelley Uram, M.D., is a Harvard-trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist who speaks nationally and internationally on the brain’s survival wiring — and how it can interfere with modern life. As a senior fellow at The Meadows, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and trains staff members. She also serves as a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, and she treats patients in her Phoenix office.

The Meadows’ video series includes interviews with other prominent figures in the mental health field, including John Bradshaw and Maureen Canning; see www.youtube.com/themeadowswickenburg. To learn more about The Meadows’ innovative treatment program for trauma, addiction, and other disorders, visit www.themeadows.com or call 800-244-4949.

The Meadows is pleased to announce Carrie Steffensen, CMP, as the new Director of Community Partnerships. In this new role, Steffensen will continue managing events, many of which involve the Meadows' Senior Fellows, world-renowned experts who are thought leaders in their disciplines, in addition to engaging and supporting The Meadows' alumni in their personal recovery.

Steffensen began her career at The Meadows in 2002 as Events Coordinator. With a background in events planning, she has involved in all stages of event planning and logistics for the highly-successful events The Meadows hosts or sponsors each year, including the prestigious Annual International Trauma Conference.

Since Steffensen began her work at The Meadows, she has attended the alumni retreats every year. "I have met many of our alumni over the past 10 years and I'm honored to be working with an inspiring group of people committed to their recovery," Steffensen said.

"We are very pleased that Carrie Steffensen has assumed her new role at The Meadows as the Director of Community Partnerships," said Jim Dredge, CEO for The Meadows. "Carrie is an integral part of The Meadows' team and we know that she will continue to provide excellence in service to all constituents."

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 centers or 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 is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

The Meadows is sponsoring a free lecture in Austin, Texas on Thursday, August 9 given Dr. Pamela Monday, LPC, LMFT, on the topic of "Trans-Generational Patterns." It will be held at the Riverbend Church from 7:00 to 8:30pm and no registration is required.

The topic will focus on exploring the unconscious family patterns that continue to be passed down across the generations, and then learn how to transform those patterns into healthy behaviors. Learning objectives include identifying three family myths or rules that people keep repeating in spite of best efforts at recovery; identifying which family loyalties are keep people stuck in dysfunctional patterns; and setting specific goals about how to interrupt those patterns and creating more functional behaviors moving forward.

Dr. Monday is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Texas and has been a therapist for more than 30 years.

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, contact Betty Ewing Dicken at 972.612.7443 or bdicken@themeadows.com.

The Meadows, located in Wickenburg, Arizona, 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.

One of the most desirable fruits of the recovery process is a greater sense of serenity and peace. Yet, for those who are recovering from addiction and trauma, each day can bring challenges, both large and small, to one's sense of serenity. Encountering opinions that are different from our own, especially when they bring our own values and beliefs into question, can certainly stir powerful emotions and threaten our serenity.

In the United States, we are nearing the end of a long political season, yet the grueling presidential election process is bound to bring even more opportunities for personal and interpersonal friction. Nevertheless, it is important that we remain involved in the political process and take part in civic duties. The question is do we let politics rob us of our serenity? And if our intention is to maintain serenity, how do we go about doing that?

Recently, I was faced with this very question when I received a politically charged email from an acquaintance. Fortunately, in that moment, I found just enough space and serenity to write my feelings down (instead of shooting off my mouth). My own political views and those of the email's author are not important, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum we will face moments when our serenity is challenged. Here is my written response in the moment that my serenity was on the line:

"A contemplative response (for my own sake),

My initial response to this email was a familiar one; I felt a tightening in my chest and a churning in my gut. The world around me seemed to contract and become very small, very narrow. The gentle breeze and the sun's warmth were lost as my mind fixated on little black letters and the spaces between them.

Thankfully, I happened upon a moment of pause a brief opening of light in that familiar dark tunnel. In that micro-moment of pause came space and I realized that what I was reading and feeling wasn't the totality of me in that moment. In that space, I could reach out and feel the rushing of the river without getting carried away in it.

The space also brought a sense of curiosity and openness about what was happening inside me. It came to my mind that, far from being an exercise in logic, rational thinking, and reasonable dialogue, politics often strike at the heart of our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world around us. For me, politics are wholly an emotional affair.

Having been happily derailed from my usual emotional ruts, I reread the attached article with a degree of mindfulness. Instead of finding my old friend "anger", I touched into a deeper well of "fear". First and foremost, I could sense the author's fear: fear of differentness, fear of powerlessness, and most of all, fear of change.

It was as if the author's barbed terms were meant to catch on the fabric of time itself and stop the world from spinning out of control. Often, implicit in this idea is that, as a society, we can pull from our past a caricature of security and purity and somehow freeze the present day in its image. Yet, this would be like flying into space, chasing the brilliant shimmer of a desired star, only to find that the star had long since disappeared, leaving only its light to travel through space.

The essence of life is change... to fear it is to fear life itself.

The other emotion I found under my defensive anger was that of "pain". At first this was confusing and uncomfortable. Paradoxically, it is much easier for me to sit with anger than with pain. In anger, I don't have to look at myself, there is plenty for me to blame "out there". However, in pain, I am invited to look inward to find the wound.

As I sat with the uncomfortableness of the pain, I began to see its source... for me, it stemmed from the idea of "separateness". The author uses highly-charged terminology that I think is meant to create a sense of distinction and separateness; an "us-against-them" mentality. It seems to me that the very purpose of the article is to use fear, anger, and anxiety to "call people to arms" and to "take sides".

Indeed, my initial response to the article was to tighten, constrict, wall-off, and begin drawing lines in the sand as an effort to define myself as separate and different from others. Somehow it seems "safe" to separate myself from others, to try and define people and issues in "black-and-white". However, I am beginning to understand that, for me, there is only emptiness to this sense of separateness.

As my approach to the essay began to soften, I felt a compassionate connection to people who fear that their most basic beliefs will be challenged or changed and to those people
who feel a need to separate themselves from others to maintain a solid sense of themselves. I also found in myself tenderheartedness for those individuals who feel desperate enough about their circumstances that they join an imperfect social movement, hoping for something better for themselves and others. In the end, these people didn't seem so different from each other or from me.

In many ways, we are all searching for ground in a world that is inherently groundless. We want bedrock, we want "a sure thing", we want predictability, and we want security.

For me personally, I feel more peaceful these days when I acknowledge my own fear of change and the pain I feel when I attempt to separate myself from others.

I find serenity in just recognizing the groundlessness of our common situation... and out of that commonality comes a feeling of compassion.

(By the way, I'm now feeling the gentle breeze and the warm sun here in Arizona... it's pretty nice.)

Thanks for the email,

Jon

Certainly we need people who are politically minded, that is people who are interested in the political process and make efforts to fulfill their civic duties. However, in a world that is increasingly divided along stark ideological lines, we also need people who are politically mindful. When we can mindfully respond instead of emotionally react, our political efforts can come from a place of inner meaning and truth. In that mental and emotional place, our political activism can be devoid of harsh judgment and filled with deep wisdom- something this world desperately needs. During this political season, let us cast our vote while maintaining our serenity.

The Meadows will offer a Grief Workshop the week of July 30 from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday at The Meadows' campus. This five-day workshop teaches participants how to deal with the pain they feel after a loss.

The Grief Workshop is designed to assist participants in addressing and resolving issues surrounding losses of all kinds; death of a loved one, end of a relationship, or a major change in social or economic status. Participants will learn about the grieving process and how they were taught to avoid feelings about their losses. Thinking processes will be explored, as well as patterns of destructive behavior following trauma and other loss.

"As this workshop helps participants to start thinking more clearly, they often realize that they have been exhibiting negative, self-destructive behaviors that negatively affect those around them," said Gail Yaw, Director of Workshops at The Meadows and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. "They then receive help to properly handle their confusing emotions."

Attending a Meadows' workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.

For more information about The Meadows' Grief Workshop and other workshops offered by The Meadows, please contact Heidi Dike-Kingston 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.

The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host a monthly alumni workshop in Houston, Texas, for alumni on July 24, 2012, from 7:00 to 8:30pm. Cara Weed, LCSW, a Meadows' trained professional, will lead the discussion on "Boundaries." It will be held at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs and no registration is required to attend.

Cara Weed's private practice in Houston has encompassed the treatment of individuals, couples, and groups for a variety of issues including depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. Although she incorporates many approaches in her work, her focus remains the treatment model developed by Pia Mellody, senior clinical advisor for The Meadows.

"I discovered Pia Mellody's work on codependence and since my initial training in 1999 with her, I have frequently spoken publicly on her model of codependence and love addiction for The Meadows. I have conducted empowerment groups, love addiction recovery groups and relationship workshops - all of which focus on healing various degrees of childhood trauma underlying adult dysfunction," Weed said. "I am committed to utilizing this groundbreaking work to assist people who are either in recovery or who just want to enhance the quality of their lives."

Additional Meadows alumni workshop dates will be announced in the future. For more information, contact Betty Ewing Dicken, LCDC, at 972.612.7443 or bdicken@themeadows.com or visit www.themeadows.com/alumni.

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.

Monday, 16 July 2012 20:00

Dr. Shelley Uram on Trauma in Humans

Dr. Shelley Uram on Trauma in Humans

One of America’s most respected centers for treating trauma and addiction, The Meadows presents a 16-part video series, viewable on YouTube, in which Dr. Shelley Uram addresses topics ranging from the nature of the authentic self to the benefits of Somatic Experiencing.

In the installment titled "Trauma in Humans," Dr. Uram, a psychologist and senior fellow at The Meadows, discusses how people experience trauma.

"For most mammal species," she explains, "it's the big, bad, ugly, scary stuff" - blood and guts, emergency rooms, natural disasters - that get registered in the brain as trauma. In humans, however, "The big, bad, ugly, scary stuff is a tiny drop in the bucket."

"In my experience, trauma syndromes are far greater than just the big, bad, ugly, scary stuff," she continues, adding that the worst traumas tend to be subtle or "covert traumas" that aren't visible.

In other videos in this series, Dr. Uram shares her expertise on trauma triggers, addiction, and the effects of emotional trauma on brain development.

Shelley Uram, M.D., is a Harvard-trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist who speaks nationally and internationally on the brain's survival wiring - and how it can interfere with modern life. As a senior fellow at The Meadows, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and trains staff members. She also serves as a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, and she treats patients in her Phoenix office.

The Meadows' video series includes interviews with other prominent figures in the mental health field, including John Bradshaw and Maureen Canning; see www.youtube.com/themeadowswickenburg.  To learn more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for trauma, addiction, and other disorders, visit www.themeadows.com or call 800-244-4949.

The Meadows is sponsoring a free lecture in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, July 17 presented by Robert Hemfelt, Ed.D., on the topic of "Religious Addiction and Spiritual Abuse." It will be held at the Unity Church of Dallas Sanctuary from 7:00 to 8:30pm and no registration is required.

"Religious addiction feeds on the basic human hunger for simplistic solutions to the cosmic complexity of the human condition. The euphoria of these exclusive and simplistic approaches to the mystery of God discourages honest exploration of the multi-faceted nature of the God-head," said Dr. Hemfelt. "Religious addiction perpetuates the myth of human certainty in the face of transcendent mystery."

Dr. Hemfelt is a Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who works with adults and adolescents on marriage, dating, family and other relationship issues at the Life Works Counseling Center in Carrollton, Texas. He has served as supervisor of therapeutic services for the Substance Abuse Study Clinic of the Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences and as alcoholism intervention specialist for a Fortune 500 corporation. Dr. Hemfelt is a Professor of Psychology for the University of Phoenix, Dallas Main Campus, and a member of the adjunct faculty of the Art Institute of Dallas. He is a recipient of the Gold Medallion Publishers Award and coauthor of multiple best-selling books (many translated into numerous foreign languages), including: Love is a Choice, Love Hunger, Passage of Marriage and The Serenity New Testament and Psalms. In addition to addressing relationship issues, Dr. Hemfelt has expertise in the treatment of addictions and compulsivity disorders ranging from eating disorders to alcoholism and substance abuse.

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, 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.

 

By Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW

The following article is based on Pia Mellody's Post Induction Therapy model of treating childhood traumaWhen it comes to dealing with childhood issues, most of us tend to gravitate toward one of the following extremes:

  • It's in the past, so what's the point?
  • It's all my parent's fault I'm the way I am.

Taking the view that our childhood experiences have no influence over the present is at best short-sighted and at worst perilous. Imagine going to a medical doctor and telling him that you don't want to give him a medical history because you don't see the point. Getting a good history is as important to your mental health as it is to your physical health.

At the other extreme, if we blame our parents for everything that’s wrong in our life, we remain victims of the past. We stay stuck because we aren't taking responsibility for our life.

The truth about the impact of childhood experiences lies somewhere closer to the middle. We need to tell the truth about the past and take responsibility for the present.

The Inevitability of Childhood Trauma

Humans have the longest childhood of any species on Earth. We live with our primary caregivers anywhere from 15-18 years and sometimes longer. Not only do we live with our caregivers for a very long time, during the time we live with them our brains are still developing and we lack basic cognitive and emotional skills to process what happens to us.

Children are like sponges and are highly adaptable. They are also naturally egocentric. If their parents get a divorce they may wonder if they are responsible. If one of their parents looks unhappy or angry, they will probably assume it is because of something they did. It is important to remember that children are not "adults in little bodies." They are completely dependent on their caregivers. That is why children are so vulnerable to childhood trauma.

In addition, while all of us are born with certain innate characteristics and tendencies, children are "calibrated" by their family of origin. If their family is chaotic or violent, over time they will adjust to that level of chaos or violence. They have no choice. They become desensitized and habituated. That is why, as adults, we are attracted to what is familiar, even if it is dysfunctional or abusive. We naturally fear what is unfamiliar.

So how do we heal from painful childhood experiences? There are 6 major steps for effective family of origin work:

Identify Significant Childhood Events

We must identify the kinds of abuse we experienced as children. There are 5 kinds of abuse: physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Abuse can be overt or covert. Beatings or sexual molestation are examples of overt abuse. Abuse can also be covert or hidden. An example of covert abuse is when a 7-year old boy is told as his father leaves for a military tour of duty that he needs to take care of his mother and is now the "little man" of the family. Neglect and abandonment are also forms of abuse. Many times, just the process of identifying these key events will give us insight about our childhood that we did not previously have.

Tell the Truth

After identifying significant childhood events, we need to tell the truth about what happened to us. This is best done in a therapeutic setting, preferably in a group. When we talk about what happened, are witnessed by others and listen to others' stories, we continue to gain insight about our experiences and begin making connections between past events and the current circumstances of our life.

Integration of the Functional Adult

The Functional Adult is an internal part of the self that we all possess. It is the healthy part of the self that knows the next right thing to do. The Functional Adult has the five core issues identified by Pia Mellody (esteem, boundaries, reality, dependency and moderation) in balance. In family of origin work, we consciously integrate this part of the self and learn how to access it, especially when we regress into a child state.

Reintegration of Child States

There are two primary internal child states that have the most impact on us in our adult life - the Wounded Child and the Adapted Adult Child. When the Wounded Child gets activated in adult life, we will feel one-down, overwhelmed, passive or dissociated. This is a younger child state. The Adapted Adult Child is an older internal child state. We experience this part of the self as being one-up and defiant. All addictions are acted out from this internal state. This is the "inner teenager" in us. When working with child states it is helpful to ask yourself, "how old am I feeling?" to help you identify which child state you are in.

Re-Parenting

The bad news may be that we did not get the parenting we needed, but the good news is that we can learn to re-parent ourselves. The Functional Adult parents the inner child states through affirming, nurturing and setting limits. The Adapted Adult Child parents through attacking/criticizing, neglecting and indulging. The Adapted Adult Child is usually the sense of "adult" that most of us have until we do family of origin work. The key tools for re-parenting are to first notice which child state you are in and then activate the Functional Adult to parent that part of the self.

Ongoing Internal Boundary Work with Major Caregivers

I mentioned before that children absorb everything that happens around them. If their caregivers are irresponsible about how they handle their emotions, the child will absorb the mis-managed emotions of the caregiver. This is enmeshment. The child who has absorbed a caregiver's feelings will literally have too much of that emotion and will carry these excess emotions into adulthood. Shame is the most dominant carried feeling.

One way to discharge carried feelings is to do a process called "feeling reduction." Feeling reduction work is a therapeutic process where the client metaphorically "gives back" the carried feelings to the caregiver. This is a symbolic experience with the caregiver rather than an actual event with the caregiver is present. The work can be done whether the caregiver is still alive or not.

If your recovery or therapy is stalled, or you find yourself in repetitive and destructive patterns or relationships, family of origin issues are likely holding you back. Family of origin work is a fundamental and necessary part of recovery and healing. The skills of re-parenting the self and doing internal boundary work with caregivers is an ongoing, life-long process that can be learned. It is never too late to give yourself the parenting you needed.

Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW, CSAT, CGP is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist in private practice in Houston, Texas. She offers individual, group and couples' psychotherapy as well as workshops and presentations. Her clinical specialties are sexual addiction recovery, codependency, trauma, and couples' therapy.

The Meadows is sponsoring a free lecture in San Francisco on Tuesday, July 10 presented by Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., on the topic of "Forgive for Good." It will be held at the Fort Mason Center from 7:00 to 8:30pm and no registration is required.

"Forgive for Good" is an introduction to the research based forgiveness methodology used in the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. The lecture will include guided practice in forgiveness methods and an over view of the nine steps to Forgiveness.

The learning objectives of the lecture include:

1. Understanding the mind body link in forgiveness

2. Developing a practical definition of forgiveness

3. Learning the use of change in narrative in creating forgiveness

Dr. Luskin directs the Stanford University Forgiveness Project and is the author of the bestselling book Forgive for Good.

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, contact Kirk Watson at 415.515.9026 or kwatson@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.

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