Psychodrama groups at Capella and Magellan are one of the most unique therapeutic modalities that Safe Harbor offers. This work is integral to the programmatic emphasis on Trauma Recovery. Sociometric techniques help build group cohesion and safety, so that women feel more comfortable sharing their trauma histories with each other. Psychodrama allows women to safely explore past experiences, or current barriers to recovery, through role-play and other forms of enactment. In doing this, women will draw on group support to create new solutions or to approach challenges with a stronger identity. As group members share about how they can identify with or relate to the experiences of other group members, shame begins to transform into self-acceptance, connectedness and mutual support.
DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and Reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful-awareness. DBT Skills Training teaching provides clients with the “how” skills to deal with issues including emotionally reactive behaviors, the inability to express feelings and self-calm, and stress. The DBT Groups at Safe Harbor are designed to equip women with the skills and knowledge to manage their emotions while participating in everyday life.
This is a unique group offered at Safe Harbor. Our therapist uses carefully selected film stories as a metaphorical approach to creating group process. This allows women to begin exploring more difficult emotions in a non-intrusive way. It is also an opportunity for creative women to process in a more informal manner.
We know and understand that spirituality is a critical component of recovery. Rev. Arlene supports each woman who walks through our doors in realizing her highest potential that is latent within her. Spirituality brings to each individual the understanding that she is not alone; that she is part of a greater existence. Through prayer and spiritual counsel, each woman is given the tools to remember her connection with a higher power that is active and fully available in and as her life. We believe that each individual has the capacity to transform her own life and support others in doing the same. Reverend Arlene uses the tools of guided meditation, prayer, life visioning, intention setting and affirmations, which enable women to tap into their own inner strength, wisdom, and healing qualities. As Rev. Arlene is fond of saying, “You are not broken. You don’t need fixing. You simply need to remember that you are a whole spiritual being, and have already been given everything you need to thrive. Healing occurs in the remembering — remembering the truth of who you were created to be.”
The women at Safe Harbor are also given spiritual principles to support them in living a life of recovery and fulfillment. Rev. Arlene sees the possibilities in each client and helps them identify the God-given potential within. She sees the pain of the past, yet encourages women to start creating a future with their higher power as their support.Rev. Arlene believes, “Our higher power is greater than any past mis-takes, and healing is available to everyone.”
Many of the women entering Safe Harbor come to us with body image issues, which can contribute to disordered eating, unhealthy relationships and social anxiety. This group helps women to recognizewhat healthy and accurate body image is and how to achieve it. “Body Image” involves women’s perceptions and attitudes towards their bodies; what women see and/or think of their body size, shape and overall appearance. We press our women to delve deeper into their distorted perceptions and process where and when they adopted these ideas. By becoming more aware of these perceptions, women are able to understand what behaviors are limiting their personal growth, so that they can move forward into a life of freedom.
In this group, women will be educated about healthy eating habits, which include meal planning, purchasing and cooking healthy snacks and meals. Nutrition Group provides both academic and practical nutritional education for our women. This motivates them to want to make the dietary and, often, lifestyle changes that are necessary to ensure a healthy recovery.
In the Healthy Relationships groups, women will be addressing issues of co-dependency, process love and/or sex addictions, and gain education on healthy boundaries and communication in a relationship. Our curriculum is founded on extensive works published by Pia Melody, Brene Brown and Patrick Carnes. Biblio-therapy is used, as well as recommendations and encouragement to read specific books outside of groups. Safe Harbor will introduce women to many concepts including the importance of boundaries, protection and containment, family roles and systems, entitlement, the caretaking of others, and the Karpman Triangle. Building self-esteem through esteem-able acts, understanding the “wounded child” and “adapted-adults,” and finding acceptance allows the women at Safe Harbor to empower their selves. The end result is to become functioning adults with balanced self-value and worth.
We believe art endlessly nurtures the creative needs of the soul. Critical to recovery, it allows the free flow of mental process, where they can gain insight, cope with stress and work through traumatic experiences. This is a healing tool that is capable of creating life-enhancing clarity. Our Art Expressionist provides women with an assortment of art materials so that they may create unique masterpieces that reflect their feelings and sense of self. Women are able to authentically grow on a personal and reflective level.
Mindfulness Practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is used to alleviate a variety of mental and psychical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and for the prevention of relapse in depression as well as drug addiction. Mindfulness is a kind of non-elaborative, non-judgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling or sensation that arises is acknowledged and accepted for exactly what it is.
Hypnotherapy uses deep relaxation, motivation and concentration to organically create subconscious changes in thought patterns. Guided Imagery is frequently used in this group, depending on the needs of the community at that time. It is common for women who are recovering from an addiction to experience distressing feelings such as panic attacks, jealousy, anger, guilt, anxiety and inadequacy. Hypnotherapy is an approachable, proven option to help women heal from these negative thoughts or behaviors.
Reverend Arlene Hylton, Spiritual Director at Safe Harbor, guides our clients through meditation, both in an individual and group setting. Meditation can be a powerful tool when dealing with stress, past experiences self-discovery and even relapse. Each morning our counselors will lead a morning meditation, where clients can read and contemplate, allowing them to slow down the mind and prepare for a productive day. Meditation assists in our philosophy of holistic healing, and enables women to better connect mind and body.
At Safe Harbor we recognize that certain experiences may be difficult to face, and may be considered a “trigger.” In a controlled environment, women are able to face these experiences, head-on, and process as a group upon completion. These groups are generally food-based and offer “social” foods that, while we don’t frequently consume in treatment, are usually available at social gatherings and professional events. This allows women to go through real-life experiences with the loving support of Safe Harbor staff and their peers.
This group is essential to giving our clients the tools they need to enter back into society without returning to their addictions. From understanding triggers, to knowing your menstrual cycle, we are passing wisdom down to our clients in regards to being a woman in recovery. Through literature, videos, and hand-selected workbooks, clients will learn about the relapse process, including what signs and symptoms they might expect to run into. Relapse Prevention educates women on dealing issues and stressors which they are likely to experience in their everyday life, and alternative tools or activities they can use to avoid a potential relapse. The goal we have set for every one of our clients is to re-enter into society as a productive woman who is confident in her self-worth and recovery.
This group is an important opportunity for women to regularly process feelings, emotions and experiences and receive feedback, not only from the facilitator, but from their peers as well. Safe Harbor’s Process Groups are based on the idea that women intuitively possess the resources for their own personal growth and healing but are blocked by anxiety, depression, trauma and chemical dependency. We create a space where the women are free to process their feelings and judgments, and share feedback with each other while gaining support from their peers. Process Groups are the home of so much camaraderie.
Through studying “The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous,” the women at Safe Harbor learn to understand the principles of unconditional love, self-acceptance, unity and service. According to The Big Book, “the main problem of the alcoholic enters his mind, not his body.” (A.A., 23) We strive to teach women how to turn their will and their life over to the care of a spiritual entity. In turn, this encourages women to step outside of themselves and to learn to support each other. “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.” (A.A., 20)
Safe Harbor believes in the fundamentals Alcoholics Anonymous. Every woman at Safe Harbor is required to attend at least one meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Sex and Love Addictions Anonymous (SLAA), Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous (ABA), or related 12-Step Meetings, per day. Twelve-Step Meetings are a place where women are able to identify with their substance use and abuse and the roles that they play with their loved ones. These meetings provide every recovering individual with experiences and hope from other like-minded people with whom they can identify, and a place where success stories and stories of hope can be shared in a trusted environment. Twelve-Step meetings allow recovering women a chance to identify with stories of what it was like, what happened and what it is like now, thus allowing for personal identification of their problems and an atmosphere that promotes change.
Yoga is a key element in our approach of Holistic Healing. In many cultures Yoga is used to strengthen the connection between body and mind. In addition to the practice of poses, Yoga Meditation is also an important practice and is used in many areas of recovery. Yoga is the balance between mind and body; mentally and physically providing women with a time of reflection and connection. We have found the benefits of yoga to be endless, including the reduction of stress, physical strength, mental awareness and clarity.
Midwinter is an especially ripe time of the year to reflect on the past and dwell in the possibility of moving forward in 2016. For many people across the globe, the New Year is viewed as a time of releasing and letting go of all the things in our lives that are no longer serving us. It is commonly believed to be the universe’s way of inviting us each to dream and create new intentions that will guide us into a more wholehearted way of living in the coming seasons.
At Safe Harbor, we have recently been blessed with the cherished dark and rainy California days, during which we are able to experience quiet, sleepy moments of reflection. In these moments, beneath the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof, we are beckoned to deeply listen to the mysterious parts of our being that are longing to be brought forth. Much like the celebrations and holidays that acknowledge the dark stillness of winter and anticipation of new life, there is a lull at the beginning of the year that allows us time to recognize what parts of ourselves we want to put forth to be nourished and renewed by the warm, life-giving light of Spring.
For the women at Safe Harbor, and for all women fighting the courageous battle with their addictions, this is a beautiful metaphor for embracing the mystery of treatment as the first step on a journey towards recovery. By first allowing yourself to be open to entering treatment, you are offering yourself the gift of a perfect landscape for letting go of destructive behaviors and reclaiming a new and exhilarating life. We know all women need and deserve a place where they can go to find healing and rest; where they are safe to acknowledge and overcome the emotional darkness they have likely become accustomed to living in. We have had women come to us from all over the world; seeking guidance for letting go and beginning again- this is not an uncommon necessity.
We have found it vital for women in treatment to be provided a time for carving out space to listen to the deep desires of their hearts and to follow their intuition; examining what is no longer working in their lives and discovering new ways of being which reflect the magnificence of a woman’s true nature. At Safe Harbor we believe that when we dutifully persevere through the darkness and uncertainty of the winter seasons of life, our hope and faith will be restored and will be met with the unfolding promise of vibrant new life bursting through in the spring.
The earth routinely offers you this time of reflection and it is our individual responsibility to make the most of this gift. We are called to challenge ourselves, this and every midwinter season, to embrace what new life is begging to be brought forth within us. Are there aspects of your life you know need renewal? Is your soul open to the fresh, clean slate of spring? It is my sincere hope that wherever you are and whatever season of life you find yourself in, you allow yourself to be reawakened by the beauty and love that is within you that is waiting to be revitalized in 2016. You deserve this life. All you have ever needed is already within you, waiting to bloom.
**Not all groups are available at all treatment centers. Please contact admissions for specific groups included at each program.