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In this episode, Alanis talks with Dr. Alexandra Katehakis about sex addiction.  

Dr. Alexandra Katehakis is an expert in the treatment of sexual addiction and other sexual disorders and has incorporated interpersonal neurobiology into her Psycho-biological Approach to Sex Addiction Treatment (PASAT). She is the Clinical Director of Center for Healthy Sex in West Los Angeles, CA and Senior Fellow at the Meadows. To hear this discussion, please listen to the podcast Conversations with Alanis Morisette  EPISODE 14: CONVERSATION WITH DR. ALEXANDRA KATEHAKIS here.


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Tian Dayton’s words about the award: 

“To be of service can be a beautiful way to live your life.

To see service as a sort of honor,

To feel that you contribute something to this world.

To wake up in the morning and not have the only question on your mind be “how can I amuse myself today” but to feel a sense of a larger purpose.

To believe in life, to have faith in people and to strive to leave the world a little better than you found it is ,or should be, what drives us our work.

We’re in an especially unique field. Many of us come here because of very personal struggles to overcome addiction, having lived with addiction and it’s long term affects.

 We have experienced first hand, losing those we love to a force that takes them over and far away from us, from themselves and from life. And we have also experienced first hand the beauty, peace, and purpose of recovery, of good, orderly direction. So we are motivated not only by this wish to help, but a deep need to be of service because we recognize that it is part of our own continued healing. We recognize that we cannot keep what we do not give away. And the freedom that we’ve discovered in laying down our burdens becomes the fuel for what we do.

So many within our ranks exemplify this kind of heart…just look around the room and see it shining through the faces here.

Now, as our field becomes big business, heart is all the more important.

We should not lose what brought us here and keeps us coming back.

The Meadows wishes to recognize this powerful force in our field, a field that is comprised of people who have both deeply personal reasons to be here along side a growing sense of professionalism. We would like to recognize that combination of professionalism and spirit.

This year’s heart award goes to Anita Ronis who brings excellence to all she does from her days of being Freedom Institutes CEO to her ever brimming over private practice. Anita is a life long learner who keeps current with the field, constantly studying and incorporating what is new and effective; she is always a willing resource for best people and best practices and most of all…she has the heart that our field needs.”

Anita Ronis’s Acceptance speech:

“Thank you Tian

I’m so grateful!  Tian, you were one of my earliest mentors and teachers.   

You opened the door to experiential therapies for me with your books, lectures and those wonderful Friday training groups. 

 And the Meadows is where I attended a workshop for five steamy 107 degrees days in June more than 10 years ago to learn more about treating trauma and addiction including my own.  

Today I am very blessed to be able to work so closely with the many wonderful hearts here in this room today.  The connections we make with our patients are not only based on the skills and knowledge we get from our years of schooling and the many workshops we attend, but from the empathy, compassion and love and we bring into these relationships. 

It is especially comforting to know that with all of the chaos and upheaval in the world today, we are able to work in a field where love, compassion, integrity, and peace are at the foundation of what we do.  

 We work in an environment where warmth, kindness, love and having a heart are actually celebrated and honored.

All of us here, through our own hearts, with love and compassion are helping to make this chaotic world just a little bit better...

one patient at a time...one session at a time

Thank you so much!”

*Pictured are Anita Ronis, Peter Stavropoulos, Director of Business Development East Region, and Dr. Tian Dayton.

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PHOENIX JANUARY 31, 2018

Donahue comes to Alita Care with more than 18 years of experience in the financial field, with substantial time committed to the healthcare industry, at companies including Ernst & Young, Banc of America Securities, Civitas Solutions, and most recently, Active Day. Donahue received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia. He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Massachusetts.

“Jed has proven himself to be a tremendous CFO and organizational leader in a variety of settings. He brings with him a remarkable set of skills and experiences that I believe will benefit Alita Care as we continue to evolve our programs for treating addiction and other behavioral health disorders,” said Dredge. “I look forward to working with Jed to create more high-quality treatment options for patients and their families, clinical referral sources, and payors across the country in the rapidly changing behavioral health environment.

Donahue has served on Boards of Directors for the non-profits X-Cel Education and Network Angels in Boston, MA.

“I am excited to join a dynamic behavioral healthcare company backed by a sponsor with a proven track record,” Donahue said. “From the preeminent trauma-based addiction treatment at The Meadows, to the coast-to-coast footprint of Sunspire, to the 130+ year history of Bournewood, Alita Care is uniquely positioned to serve the growing needs of communities and families. I am energized to join Jim and his strong team of divisional CEOs.”

About Alita Care 
Alita Care, LLC is a management organization that provides leadership and oversight to Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, Sunspire Health, LCC, and Bournewood Health Systems. Founded in 2016, the company is headquartered in Arizona and maintains 16 facilities in seven states across the U.S. Alita Care offers a wide range of behavioral health services to those struggling with emotional trauma, drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, eating disorders, and other behavioral disorders. Alita Care’s programs are guided by experienced behavioral health experts and thought leaders who bring the latest neurobehavioral research and proven methodologies to our personalized, multifaceted, and holistic approach to recovery.

About Meadows Behavioral Healthcare 
Meadows Behavioral Healthcare is the industry leader in providing treatment for people struggling with addiction, eating disorders, trauma, and related mental health conditions. The company’s programs — The Meadows, Claudia Black Young Adult Center, Gentle Path at The Meadows, Willow House at The Meadows, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows, The Meadows Outpatient Center, and a variety of intensive workshops offered at Rio Retreat Center — are the premier choice for patients, families, and behavioral health professionals. For more information, please visit http://www.themeadows.com.

About Sunspire Health 
Sunspire Health is a leading provider of behavioral health services for the treatment of substance abuse, eating, and other co-occurring disorders. The company operates a national network of independently branded treatment centers, currently comprising eight locations in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Utilizing evidence-based clinical interventions, Sunspire offers treatment with respect for patients’ specific needs and diverse lifestyles. Sunspire delivers improved patient outcomes by offering a full continuum of care and individualized treatment plans in intimate settings in residential and outpatient facilities across the nation. For more information, please visit http://www.sunspirehealth.com.

About Bournewood Health Systems 
Bournewood, a well-recognized leader in the field of mental health, is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, and has been offering psychiatric and substance abuse treatment services since 1884. The company offers a broad range of treatment options, including inpatient programs, partial hospitalization, and adolescent services. Their highly trained expert staff takes a personalized approach to providing high-quality clinical services to their clients in a nurturing and supportive environment. For more information, please visit http://www.bournewood.com.

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WICKENBURG, ARIZ.  JANUARY 26, 2018

Gurr joined Remuda Ranch at The Meadows in 2015, where he has functioned in various capacities, including Director of Family Services and Clinical Director. Previously, he spent 13 years in an executive level position with Copper Canyon Academy/Sedona Sky Academy, a residential treatment center for girls, where he developed clinical and workshop programming for over 2,000 students and their families from around the world. He received a master’s degree from the University of Utah in exercise and sports science, with an emphasis in sports psychology. He then went on to receive another master’s degree from Argosy University, Phoenix in professional counseling. Gurr’s experience includes working with marriage, family, adolescents, and elite athletes in private practice. He is a sought-after speaker on eating disorders, anxiety, relationships, parenting, and family systems work. Gurr has also appeared on CBS’ talk show The Doctors as an eating disorder expert.

“Mike has proven himself to be a tremendous contributor to our eating disorder program in a variety of areas,” said Sean Walsh, CEO of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. “His extensive experience and total wellness approach to behavioral health will benefit our patients as we continue to enhance our programming to incorporate more trauma theory and brain level interventions.”

Haaland comes to Remuda Ranch at The Meadows with more than 11 years of experience in the field of behavioral health. Most recently, she was in private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and trauma. She also has previous experience as the former Program Director of Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City. She is a national speaker and consultant on the treatment of eating disorders and trauma. Haaland received her undergraduate degree and Master of Arts in community counseling from the University of South Dakota.

“Remuda Ranch at The Meadows is very fortunate to have Tanja join our team,” said Walsh. “Tanja’s wealth of knowledge in the treatment of eating disorders and trauma, along with her leadership experience, will benefit our patients struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and co-occurring disorders.”

“I appreciate the confidence of Sean and the Meadows Behavioral Healthcare organization. Remuda Ranch has a solid treatment approach, a beautiful campus, and an incredible, caring staff, and I am committed to its continued growth and development to best support our patients and their families,” said Gurr. “I look forward to working closely with Tanja on a multitude of levels, with a focus on giving hope and healing to the women and young girls who come to us seeking recovery of their eating disorders.”

Remuda Ranch at The Meadows is an industry leader in treating eating and co-occurring disorders for women and girls through its inpatient, residential, and partial-care programs. To learn more about Remuda Ranch at The Meadows’ work, contact an intake coordinator at 866-390-5100, or visit http://www.remudaranch.com.

Since 1990, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows has been a leading eating disorder and co-occurring treatment center. In that time, over 10,000 women and girls have trusted their care to Remuda Ranch at The Meadows . Through its approach and clinical excellence, individualized treatment is offered by a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, primary care providers, registered dietitians, therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses that provide assistance and support 24 hours a day. Along with treating eating disorders, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows addresses co-occurring issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and trauma. Remuda Ranch was acquired by The Meadows in 2012 and is accredited by The Joint Commission.

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PHOENIX JANUARY 22, 2018

Vangheluwe comes to Alita Care with more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, with a focus on post-acute care, and a broad base of responsibilities including managed care, operations, business development, sales and mergers, and acquisitions. He also has previous experience as the former Vice President of Managed Care for Jordan Health Services, National Vice President of Business Development and Managed Care for Evolution Healthcare, National Vice President of Client Sales for Accelion Healthcare, and Senior Vice President of Business Development for Nufactor Specialty Pharmacy.

“Jerome’s extensive involvement in the strategic growth and development of large health services companies and his experience in contracting with national and local managed care organizations will benefit Alita Care as we continue to evolve our programs for treating addiction and other behavioral health disorders,” said Dredge. “I look forward to working with Jerome to help bring our high-quality treatment options to patients and their families.”

Vangheluwe graduated with a degree in applied sciences from St. John Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy and is a Certified Respiratory Therapist. He has served in a professional capacity as an appeals board member for HealthSpring Insurance in the state of Texas and is a member in good standing of the National Board of Respiratory Care, as well as the Michigan Society of Respiratory Care.

“I appreciate the confidence that Alita Care has placed in me and the value it sees in creating strong, lasting managed care relationships,” Vangheluwe said. “The strength of the organization lies in its commitment to clinical excellence and patient care. I am excited to join such a progressive outcomes-driven group of companies.”

About Alita Care 
Alita Care, LLC is a management organization that provides leadership and oversight to Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, Sunspire Health, LCC, and Bournewood Health Systems. Founded in 2016, the company is headquartered in Arizona and maintains 16 facilities in seven states across the U.S. Alita Care offers a wide range of behavioral health services to those struggling with emotional trauma, drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, eating disorders, and other behavioral disorders. Alita Care’s programs are guided by experienced behavioral health experts and thought leaders who bring the latest neurobehavioral research and proven methodologies to our personalized, multifaceted, and holistic approach to recovery.

About Meadows Behavioral Healthcare 
Meadows Behavioral Healthcare is the industry leader in providing treatment for people struggling with addiction, eating disorders, trauma, and related mental health conditions. The company’s programs — The Meadows, Claudia Black Young Adult Center, Gentle Path at The Meadows, Willow House at The Meadows, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows, The Meadows Outpatient Center, and a variety of intensive workshops offered at Rio Retreat Center — are the premier choice for patients, families, and behavioral health professionals. For more information, please visit http://www.themeadows.com.

About Sunspire Health 
Sunspire Health is a leading provider of behavioral health services for the treatment of substance abuse, eating, and other co-occurring disorders. The company operates a national network of independently branded treatment centers, currently comprising 10 locations in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Utilizing evidence-based clinical interventions, Sunspire offers treatment with respect for patients’ specific needs and diverse lifestyles. Sunspire delivers improved patient outcomes by offering a full continuum of care and individualized treatment plans in intimate settings in residential and outpatient facilities across the nation. For more information, please visit http://www.sunspirehealth.com.

About Bournewood Health Systems 
Bournewood, a well-recognized leader in the field of mental health, is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, and has been offering psychiatric and substance abuse treatment services since 1884. The company offers a broad range of treatment options, including inpatient programs, partial hospitalization, and adolescent services. Their highly-trained expert staff takes a personalized approach to providing high-quality clinical services to their clients in a nurturing and supportive environment. For more information, please visit http://www.bournewood.com.

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What if you could create the perfect meditation space in your home?

Carving out a private enclave for meditation doesn’t have to be tough, whether you’re living in a studio-sized condo or a spacious estate with a dozen spare rooms you’ve never used. With a few simple tips, you can transform any space into a private nook where you can disconnect from daily stresses, internal dialogue and negative experiences.

What is a Meditation Space?

A meditation space is a sacred spot where you can release stress, find serenity and center yourself. Sacred doesn’t necessarily mean religious or spiritual; in this context, it means you only use the area for meditation, yoga, rest or stillness. It’s your own personal retreat within your home, and you can designate a corner, a partitioned space, or even an entire room to it as long as you feel good about your choice.

Exceptional Spots for a Meditation Space in Any Home

This is your space, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all spot that works for everyone. Ideally, you’ll be able to walk through each room in your home and narrow down your choices to rooms you absolutely love – those that make you smile, relax you, and give you a sense of peace. As you search for your perfect meditation space, be mindful that:

• Facing a southeast corner will bathe you in early morning light, which may be perfect for dawn meditation.
• Facing a northwest corner will let you bask in the sun’s waning rays, which could be ideal if you’re an evening meditator.
• Facing due east emulates Buddha, who sat beneath the Bodhi tree and meditated directly toward the early morning sun.

Where to Meditate in a Small Home

If you don’t have much room to spare, a terrace, patio or corner of a room in a condo or townhouse might be the perfect spot to set up your meditation space. Add a privacy screen or hang billowing curtains from a single point on the ceiling to shut out the world while you connect with your inner self, or clear out a closet for instant (and expense-free) privacy. Although it’s tough to find spare square footage in a condo, apartment or studio, you can make extra room by:

• Swapping out your sofa for comfy chairs
• Installing a loft bed in a room with high enough ceilings
• Storing non-essential accessories and furnishings rather than trying to cram them all into your space
• Using wall cabinets rather than freestanding bookshelves in your décor

Where to Meditate in a More Spacious Home

Create your private paradise in a quiet corner, in an enclosed room or the garden to find your inner peace. One of the keys to successful meditation is carving out a distraction-free environment where you can get comfortable.

Spots to Avoid

Steer clear of high-traffic areas or those where distractions are likely to pull you off the path to Nirvana. Try to avoid the kitchen, the living room or anywhere too close to a lavatory, the front door or a space that faces a street. Your home office may drag your mind toward work, and a place that makes you want to nap rather than meditate (like your bedroom) might be a little too relaxing.


Meditation Room Ideas

The more peaceful, relaxing and beautiful your meditation room is, the more time you’ll want to spend there. You’ll feel it pulling you in before you start your day, each time you need a break and when you wind down for the night.

The Perfect Room Décor in a Meditation Space

Designing your Zen meditation space for self-help and personal development requires you stick to a few principles:

• Keep your space clean and clutter-free.
• Only include items you love and that contribute to your happiness and peace.
• Add natural elements where possible, such as living plants and stones.

The Bare Essentials

You don’t have to dedicate an entire room and a month’s salary to creating your meditation space. The simplest – and sometimes most effective – meditation spaces feature only the bare essentials, such as:

• Meditation cushions or a soft spot to sit
• Natural light
• Something with personal significance, like bells, crystals or affirmation stones
• Fresh air

If you can, spring for a serene color palette in the room. Neutrals, which are the most popular (think earth tones and off-whites), are what you’ll find in monasteries and professionally designed meditation spaces, but here’s where you can make it interesting. Dark colors make a room feel smaller, which is ideal if you want to feel enveloped in your space, and pastels lend an airy, open feeling to any room, which could be perfect if you prefer a sense of freedom while you meditate. Bright, glossy white that produces glare is generally off-limits, though, because it’s too harsh for the serene environment you’re trying to create.
Pro tip: If natural sunlight hits the wall and makes you squint, the paint color is wrong for your meditation space.

Zen Touches

Your meditation room can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. A few carefully chosen elements can turn any space into a soul-nourishing haven. Consider adding décor such as:

• Attractive incense burners
• A fountain for the sight and sound combination
• Singing bowls
• Decorative cushions
• A Zen sand table
• Aromatherapy diffusers
• Adjustable lighting
• An altar
• Candles

Bare wood floors can add a sense of authenticity to your meditation room, and they can make the room appear (and feel) larger – but they’re not necessary as long as you have the proper posture. A plush area rug or tatami mat on top of carpet can carve out a private space where you can meditate, practice yoga or rest without costing you a fortune.

Best Plants for Meditation Spaces

Most people find that having at least one living plant makes a huge difference in the quality of a meditation space. They’re essential for pulling volatile organic chemicals out of the air and allowing you to commune with natural, earthy elements. Plants that thrive in low light and contribute to Zen include:

• Philodendron
• Pothos
• Sansevieria
• Echeveria
• Monstera Deliciosa

What Not to Put in Your Meditation Space

Few things are more distracting than clutter, so your meditation room needs to be light on things that can counteract your Zen. Avoid electronics (the TV has to go!) except for music players or electronic aromatherapy diffusers, and banish toys, paperwork or other distractors that will prevent you from connecting with yourself.

Bonus Tips for the Perfect Meditation Room

• Buy plug protectors in case you’re tempted to bring in electronics (other than that music player). They’ll serve as a gentle reminder that technology is unwelcome in your space.
• If your window has a bad view, use Japanese rice paper or privacy glass decals to shut out the world without compromising your natural light.
• This room is your escape, so nothing that pulls you back into your everyday existence belongs there.

What’s Your Dream Meditation Space Like?

With a little planning and a dash of inspiration, anyone can create a spectacular meditation space – and we’d love to hear about what you’ve already done.

Written By: Alejandra Roca
To read original posting click here.
To learn more about how The Meadows uses meditation, click here.

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Girls are often born into this world surrounded by messages about who they are supposed to be, and who they should become; Be cute.  Smile.  Be a nice girl.  Just give them a hug.  Don’t make a fuss.  Suck in your belly.  Be the ideal body type.  Look sexy.  Stay pure and innocent.  Be good in bed.  You can have it all if you do it this way.

Is it any wonder why girls and women struggle with feeling comfortable in their own skin?  There is such a deep and contradictory connection between the messages they receive about their bodies, their emotional expression, and how to be sexual and relational.  Girls and women are set up to be at odds with themselves inside—to question their own experience and reality within.

Those messages are tiny ruptures in the attachments girls and women have with the people conveying them.  They’re conveyed through words or examples.  Subtle hurts, that develop insecurities.  They may be layered on top of even more abandoning or abusing experiences from family members, friends, teachers, coaches, spiritual authorities, leaders and authority figures, intimate partners, bosses, colleagues, and strangers.

  • 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually abused before they reach age 18 (dosomething.org, 2018)
  • 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 has been sexually harassed at work (timesupnow.com, 2018)
  • 80% of 21-year-olds abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder (dosomething.org, 2018)

The “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements of today are reflective of what many girls and women have long known; that it’s difficult to move through the world without having your body, sexuality, identity, and more be objectified or used in some way.  These movements encourage individuals to step out of isolation, into shared truth and support and are messages that are useful for all.

Research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) shows that women who experienced these messages, abandonments, and/or abuses when they were younger, are very likely to struggle with being sexual and relational as adults. 

“Among individuals with a history of adverse childhood experiences, risky sexual behavior may represent their attempts to achieve intimate interpersonal connections. Having grown up in families unable to provide needed protection, such individuals may be unprepared to protect themselves and may underestimate the risks they take in their attempts to achieve intimacy” (Hillis, Andra, Felitti, & Marchbanks, 2001).

These childhood experiences can develop into adult intimacy issues ranging on a spectrum from attachment disorders (over- or under-connecting with others) to sex and love addiction issues (confusing sex with love, being compulsively sexual, fearing and avoiding sex, inconsistent boundaries in and around sex, and more).  Girls experience early life attachment ruptures and carry them into womanhood.  Adverse childhood experiences shape how women see themselves, see the world around them and see themselves in relationship to the world.  They may find themselves with unconscious, seemingly body-driven urges to over-connect with some people, and under-connect or wall off with others.  They may even find themselves seeking validation and closeness from people and situations that could cause further hurt, as they strive to fill unmet needs from childhood.  Sometimes the only way for a woman to feel a sense of power and control over the world that has exploited her is to become the exploiter of herself—of her body, emotional expression, and how she is sexual and relational. This is often how eating disorder and sex addiction issues arise. 

In sex addiction, women essentially reenact the trauma they’ve survived, or try to avoid more of that trauma, by using their bodies. 

A woman may use the sex appeal she’s been taught to develop, to build intrigue with a sexual or relational partner, and have a brief encounter seemingly without strings attached by remaining emotionally walled off in an attempt to avoid possible hurt.  She may do this repeatedly. 

For the same intention, a woman may get involved with a partner who’s already involved in a primary relationship, lending itself to limited emotional entanglement for her. 

Or a woman may feel over-connected emotionally to a long-term relationship partner who gives her more affection and attention than she can handle.  It feels engulfing and unsafe but she doesn’t want to make a fuss like she was taught.  So she may need to get away to breathe and act out in an affair which seems simpler. 

Or a woman may find masturbation as a way to soothe herself, without having to be relational with others—especially if she has a negative body image—yet find herself needing more frequency and intensity to feel the same degree of soothing.  She may need to use a substance or another process to take the edge off being sexual because she feels scared, ashamed, or overwhelmed. 

And so many other examples.

These types of sexual and relational experiences are just an illusion of power and control, of course, because in trauma reenactment and addiction, women are not operating from the frontal cortex of the brain where logic and intentionality live.  Instead, they are very much out of control or hijacked, by the limbic brain that holds implicit memories, drives, distorted perceptions, and survival modes of fight/flight/freeze.  They’re unable to decipher what their body and emotions truly tell them.  All the messages, abandonments, and/or abuses they’ve carried are a barrier to their true needs.  Women with this lifelong set-up are bound by the type of soothing and relief that sexual and relational acting out seems to provide, however brief.  This brings susceptibility for unsafe sex, sex with unsafe partners, exploiting others and being exploited by others, infidelity, and more. At the root, it is a woman’s best attempt to feel comfortable in her own skin, while actually sacrificing that very body which is her home.

Devastating as this cycle is, there is hope.

Just as women’s realities within are shaped by hurts, their realities can also be shaped by healing and recovery.

Ironically, healing and recovery for women’s sex addiction is rooted where the seeds of the hurts began—in the body, emotional expression, and sexual and relational attachment templates.  Working slowly, and with a strong, safe, and qualified support system, women can explore the early messages, abandonments, and/or abuses they’ve carried.  Expert therapists, somatic and experiential practitioners, 12 Step fellowships, and groups of women who have walked this path themselves are so valuable; this is a somatic healing process, using the body’s inner wisdom as a guide—attuning to grief, heartache, suppressed anger, and a core of shame and worthlessness that is often old and familiar.  Experientially, this history can be moved through to bring shifts from the inside out. Honoring and acknowledging what has happened.  Using experiential processes to move carried toxicity out of her worldview in a fully embodied way.  Developing healthy attachments that provide repair.  And addressing real and tangible boundaries to change her future.  This is a recovering path built on a woman’s newly developing trust in herself and her reality within.  This is a path that allows a woman who has survived struggle to overcome the messages and hurts and find comfort in her own skin as well as recognition that she is deeply worthy of that comfort and the boundaries to protect it.  This is freedom from the inside out.

Journey of a Woman’s Heart: Finding True Intimacy is a five-day intensive therapeutic workshop offered at the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows designed to cultivate this healing and recovery.  Women are supported as they work through the roots of their sexual and relational struggles, where the seeds of the hurts began.  Identifying traumatic messages, abandonments, and/or abuses, and how they have sacrificed their own bodies and spirits through sexual and relational patterns in attempts to manage it all, is at the heart of this workshop.  The process is led by an experienced therapist in a small group of up to six participants to maximize the healing power of walking alongside others and moving out of isolation toward shared freedom.  For more details, call 866-582-9850.

References:

11 Facts about child abuse.  Retrieved January 2018 from http://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-child-abuse.

Cosmopolitan survey of 2,235 full and part-time female employees, 2015.  Retrieved January 2018 from http://www.timesupnow.com.

Hillis SD, Andra RF, Felitti VJ, Marchbanks PA.  Adverse childhood experiences and sexual risk behaviors in women: a retrospective cohort study.  Fam Plann Perspec.  2001 Sep-Oct;33(5):206-11.  PMID: 11589541
By Elizabeth Ogren, M.Ed., LPC, CSAT Candidate, ADS

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For More information on treating Eating Disorders, please contact Remuda Ranch at The Meadows

Tian Dayton, MA, Ph.D., T.E.P is the director of The New York Psychodrama Training Institute where she runs training groups in psychodrama, sociometry and experiential group therapy. She served as Caron’s director of program development for eight years and Breathe’s for four. She was also a professor at NYU for eight years teaching psychodrama and currently sits on the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA). She is a fellow of the American Society of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy (ASGPP), and is the winner of their scholar’s award and the President’s award. She has served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy for ten years and as an executive editor for eight, she sits on the professional standards committee. She is also the winner of The Mona Mansell Award and The Ackermann Black Award for her contributions to the field of addiction.

You can view the full 18-minute presentation on YouTube

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What is your reality anyway?

As a baby, your brain was in a receptive mode and you downloaded and duplicated everything around you. As you grew up, you kept imprinting within you, all of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and things that happened and you became you.

From Pia Mellody’s Model of Developmental Immaturity, we learn that this programming creates a belief system. You interpret everything that you perceive through your own belief system, particularly as you interact with others. That’s why people frequently disagree about a shared experience. For example, let’s say that Jason had a disagreement with his sister while they were at a social event and shared about it with several friends. Sara identifies with Jason’s sister, feels empathy, and defends her. Jennifer is reminded of being embarrassed by her mother in public and feels pain and shame. Mark feels annoyed about the very topic of conversation and thinks about something else. Everyone has his or her own reality.

In emotional recovery work, it is extremely helpful to understand your reality and how to work with it. First, your reality is your experience in the present moment and includes your body, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Think of a recent time when you felt reactive in an interaction with someone and experienced some strong feelings come up. Now, breathe, take a moment, and fully experience the sensations in your body. Those sensations inform you about your feelings. Identify what the feelings are. Is it pain, hurt or sadness, or is it fear or anger? If you are not used to identifying your feelings, it can take some practice. Truthfully, your feelings are generated by the thought you had. When you are reactive, it’s hard to think straight and it can take some time to identify what the actual thought was, or where in your history it originated.

The most helpful way to think about this is with curiosity and owning it rather than judging yourself or blaming someone else. You are in a disempowered victim mode when you blame someone else for your reaction and that keeps you stuck. When you own that your reaction came from your own programming, then you are empowered to understand yourself better and can change.

So how do we do that? How do we change our reactivity, our thoughts, and feelings, and why go through the trouble? 

Scott Peck wrote, “Mental health is staying in REALITY at all costs.” You’ve had those experiences when you are fully present, connected with yourself, aware of your senses, and feeling alive. Joy, passion, love, and the sense of connection with yourself are present moment experiences. You miss out on life when you are not present. Everyone checks/spaces-out at times; it is the human condition. However, the more present you are, the happier and healthier you will be.

Here are the steps to working with your reality when you are triggered or become reactive:

  • Take slow deep breaths and be curious about what you are experiencing and why it is coming up.
  • Notice and describe to yourself the sensations you are feeling in your body and identify the emotional feeling word or words that fit. (Hurt, fear, anger, irritation, shame, guilt, for example.)
  • Stay present and curious about the feelings or issues that are underneath the surface feelings. It could be abandonment, feeling threatened or unsafe, used or manipulated, blamed, shame, guilt, or a memory of an incident from your past. You could discuss this with a therapist.
  • When appropriate, you can own your own experience in the present moment and share it with that person you were reactive to by using your talking boundary. For example, in the previous story, Jennifer becomes very quiet and moody. She might share with Jason, “When I heard you say that your sister made a scene at the family dinner, what came up for me was a time when my mother was embarrassingly loud and rude in public and I’m feeling some shame and pain.” In sharing her reality in this manner, Jennifer’s friends will understand her better and she will likely have a sense of relief from the pain and shame.

Only do this when you feel like a functional adult. Listen to the other person’s reality. Be open to getting to know them and to learn about yourself.

Practicing this will likely bring insight as to how the programming in your brain hijacked the situation and gave you a distorted reality. That insight creates a new reality, even a new neuropathway in your brain. This practice begins to create a new, healthier, happier reality, which makes it easier for you to be present. So who needs reality? We all do.     

By Nancy Minister, MA, Workshop Facilitator for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows

                                   

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Much of the tension and quarreling that occurs within relationships exist primarily due to our inability to communicate effectively. Most of us struggle to listen without judgment, fully understand another’s perspective, validate feelings we aren’t experiencing, and show empathy toward someone who has hurt us. This is normal. It’s the result of a whole series of complicated relational wounds we’ve experienced over the years. Combine that trauma with the many defensive strategies we use to help ourselves feel safe, and you have a recipe for relational conflict.

Here at the Meadows, we offer workshops that are specifically designed to heal and enhance relationships. Both the Couples Bootcampworkshop and the Family Matters workshop help participants share their own perspective honestly, better understand one another, identify problematic relational patterns, set and maintain healthy boundaries, and create safety within the relationship.

The Couples Bootcamp is a five day intensive for those struggling in a romantic partnership. The workshop is facilitated in a group setting which can include up to three couples. Each member of the group supports one another and enhances the healing process for each of the other couples. All participants will explore their own relational history and other factors that have contributed to their current destructive patterns. The couples will then learn to communicate more effectively with one another and clearly state their needs within a safe environment. It’s been my experience that many couples already possess the tools they need to make positive changes in the relationship, but simply need additional support and guidance to help them work through the problems that keep them “stuck.” When working with couples in this workshop, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing beautiful moments of tenderness and empathy where criticism and defensiveness used to be the norm. On many occasions, I have seen a partner look at their lover and say things like “It feels so good to be heard by you” and “I’m starting to feel safe again.” Moments like these are not uncommon and watching them unfold is what I love about facilitating this workshop.

Family Matters is another five day intensive workshop that is specifically customized for your unique situation and solely focused on your family. Whether you want to work on parent-child relationships, problems between siblings, or any other family combination, this workshop can provide you with the tools you need to bring your family closer together. Since family systems are complicated and each member carries their own perspective, it is important that everyone can speak their own reality and feel heard by the others. This workshop provides everyone a safe environment in order to facilitate open sharing and healthy communication. Each family member is given an opportunity to express their own resentments and frustrations with the goal of working toward repairing and improving family functioning. It’s been common for me to hear participants talk about their time in family week as a “life changing” experience. I experience a profound sense of joy when I see families who have experienced years of anger and bitterness begin feeling safe enough to risk being vulnerable with one another. Relational healing is a beautiful thing!

While the Couples Bootcamp and Family Matters workshops offer expert healing we also offer other options for couples and families. Rio Retreat Center offers private intensive workshops for those who may require a higher level of confidentiality and safety due to their recognizability to the public, their leadership status in a corporation, or those who may be paparazzi pursued. We also offer specialized couples workshops for couples addressing sexual disorders. If you are looking for healing from your relationships, contact our intake department at 1-800-244-4949 for more information or visit our website at: https://www.rioretreatcenter.com/workshops/relationships.

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