New Focus on Childhood Trauma and Healing for Adults


I recently came across a blog written by ACEs Connection member Elizabeth Prewitt titled, For the first time, SAMHSA’s annual children’s mental health event focuses on trauma.”  In the article, Ms. Prewitt writes, “It is both remarkable and natural that the theme of the 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) May 10th Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event was “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma”. It was remarkable to hear “ACEs” and “trauma-informed” roll off the tongues of all the federal officials (some seasoned, some new appointees in the Trump Administrsation). And natural as the awareness of ACEs science grows at lightning speed…at least it feels that way.”

It was certainly exciting to learn that the SAMHSA event aligned so closely with the mission of ACEs Connection: to accelerate the global ACEs science movement, to recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and to promote trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all communities and institutions. Strategies for making child-serving systems more trauma-informed is a subject near and dear to my own heart.

Before coming to work for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows as a Survivors Workshop facilitator, I worked with children and adolescents in residential treatment for seven years. The agency was amazing and provided consistent, compassionate, therapeutic and psychiatric long-term care for kids in the residential program. The agency also provided services for children and families in several equally effective programs. It was very rewarding and fun to work with the team, the children, and their families. Even though the children and adolescents returned to better home situations, I imagine that there are effects in their lives as adults because they had high ACEs scores (click here for your ACEs score).

Adults who have faced adverse childhood experiences such as physical, sexual and verbal abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member with addiction or mental illness; witnessing abuse; or losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason can find help in The Meadows family of programs and services. Adults with a history of childhood trauma may be resilient and have learned to adapt but often times they have problems with health, relationships, addictions, anxiety, or mood disorders.

Specifically designed to address childhood trauma, The Meadows signature workshop, Survivors,  is a five-day experience conducted in a group format. Survivors has been in existence for over 30 years and has served many thousands of inpatients as well as outpatients.

Prior to attending Survivors, participants complete a questionnaire covering the basics of their family while growing up. On the first day of the workshop, participants learn about Pia Mellody’s Developmental Immaturity Model.  I think Pia’s model is genius, and like to call it “the guidebook for life that we never got.” Participants gain insight into how the relational trauma and abuse during childhood affect their relationship with themselves and others.

From a very young age, even before we acquired speech, we learned to take the energetic pulse of our home. We learned to be sensitive to the moods, desires, and expectations of those around us. Being dependent on our caregivers for our survival, we often developed more sensitivity to the feelings of others than to our own. We also took in the messages that were given to us about who we needed to be and who we could not be.

As adults, we can feel confused about who we are or believe that we need to have another’s approval to feel okay.  We can think and feel that our value and worth is based on looking pretty or being the highest achiever. We can think that we have to achieve in specific ways to have value, and if we don’t, then we feel worthless. We can even believe that nothing we do is ever good enough. These painful struggles are a result of relational trauma and abuse.

The healing recovery work done is Survivors is not about blaming or bashing parents or other caregivers. It is truly about healing from the past in order to be more balanced and functional. Often the parenting styles are generational. The definition of abuse we use is “anything less than nurturing or experienced as shaming.”

The Survivors workshop is popular because it is effective. People walk away feeling lighter, more open, and connected with themselves after releasing the energy surrounding the trauma experiences. We often have individuals come to the workshop who have been referred by a family member or friend after having noticed the changes. Frequently, we hear workshop participants say, “Everybody should do this! Everyone can benefit from this!” and “This should be taught in schools.” People walk away with a sense that they have made a difference, not only in their own lives but in the family legacy that they pass on to future generations.

All of The Meadows programs provide trauma-informed treatment specific to the specialized program. It is a privilege to be a part of this premier provider of leading-edge trauma treatment. I feel very hopeful knowing that SAMHSA’s annual Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day spotlighted the need for trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies for children. This is a great step forward for the field of trauma treatment and future generations of children will benefit from this increased focus and funding.

If you are interested in attending a Survivors workshop, please call our intake department at 1-866-457-3202.  For more information, click on the following link:

By Nancy Minister, MC, Survivors Therapist

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The Subtle Cues of Communication

“You cannot ‘not’ communicate.”

1d36d23b156ead252433d4ce2c21c387_LIn the world of communication theory, this is a common adage. Simply stated, it means that no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to refrain from communicating to those around you. Since the majority of communication occurs through non-verbal cues that are transmitted both consciously and subconsciously, we are communicating whether we want to or not. Even silence is communicating something. So when couples or family members say, “Our problem is that we don’t communicate with one another,” they are misinformed. They are communicating a great deal. It’s more likely that they aren’t communicating very effectively and they often don’t like the messages that are being exchanged.

In the world of communication theory, this is a common adage. Simply stated, it means that no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to refrain from communicating to those around you. Since the majority of communication occurs through non-verbal cues that are transmitted both consciously and subconsciously, we are communicating whether we want to or not. Even silence is communicating something. So when couples or family members say, “Our problem is that we don’t communicate with one another,” they are misinformed. They are communicating a great deal. It’s more likely that they aren’t communicating very effectively and they often don’t like the messages that are being exchanged

.As human beings, we have the ability to transmit and detect very subtle cues from one another. It could be compared to an emotional Wi-Fi system that each of us possesses, sending out signals to the people in our proximity. Those people, in turn, have a corresponding Wi-Fi system that automatically receives and interprets those signals. This is happening whether we want it to or not. Unfortunately, these signals are subject to a great deal of misinterpretation.

So where do these Wi-Fi signals come from and how are they transmitted? Well, it’s a complex process that happens faster than our conscious mind can keep up with and more subtle than we can perceive. Most of these signals are made up of different body gestures called micro-expressions; tiny movements that are almost imperceptible to the naked eye, especially if you’re not paying attention to them. They consist of small adjustments of the facial muscles, constriction or dilation of the pupils, movements of the limbs and extremities, body posture, tone of voice, and breathing patterns to name a few. Most of these signals are involuntary, and usually, the person transmitting them doesn’t know that they are doing it. In addition, the person who is receiving these signals may know something is being communicated but is seldom able to identify the source of these signals. To make matters worse, the receiver usually doesn’t have enough information to interpret these signals accurately. Thus, you get a dialogue that looks something like this:

Mom: “Jeffry, I see that you got a C on your geometry test. Are you having trouble understanding the material?”

Jeffry: “No, Mom, I just had a bad day when I took the test. I’m doing fine in the class.”

Mom: “No need to get defensive, Jeffry, I’m just concerned about how you’re doing in school.”

Jeffry: “Well, you don’t need to jump all over me about it Mom. It’s not like I’m a bad student.”

Mom: “I’m not ‘jumping all over you.’ I just asked a question. I don’t appreciate the tone you’re taking with me.”

Jeffry: “I don’t have a ‘tone.’ I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re getting all ballistic over a stupid test!”

The next thing you know, both Mom and Jeffry find themselves locked in a battle over who’s attacking who and which of them is being overly sensitive. Both of them find themselves frustrated by the conversation. It’s a common scenario that can sometimes lead to hurt feelings, resentment, and disrupted attachment between family members. What Mom and Jeffry don’t notice is the role each of their respective micro-expressions is playing in the unfolding drama. There is a great deal more to this conversation than just the words they are using and the content they are conveying.

How many times have you had a family member say to you, “What was that look about?” or “What’s the matter? I can tell something’s bothering you,” and you have no idea what they are talking about? Often, these micro-expressions are communicating emotional states that you may not be aware of in the moment. Consequently, a whole assortment of miscommunication happens in a short amount of time. If left unexamined and unaddressed, these miscues can lead to some disruptive outcomes for families.

Here at The Meadows, we prioritize healthy communication between family members. One aspect of our intensive Family Matters Workshop is fostering clear, direct communication. This includes, but is not limited to, the words that each family member says to one another. Each individual must also gain a better awareness of their own emotional states and micro-expressions, as well as those of their loved ones. This is an essential component of healthy communication.

The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers customized intensive workshops for families that are struggling to communicate effectively as well as numerous other relational problems. If you would like to know more about our Family Matters Workshop or any of our other workshops, contact our intake department at 1-800-244-4949 for more information or visit our website at

Written by:  John Parker, MS, LMFT, SATP, CSAT, Therapist at Rio Retreat Center

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Rio Retreat Center Adds Equine Exeriential to Our Evening Activities!

Along with other evening activities including Yoga, Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Music, and 12 Step Groups, our Rio Retreat Center workshop participants now have the opportunity to take part in an Equine Experiential. Jean Collins-Stuckert, Executive Director at Rio, had a plan to add this next piece into Rio’s evening activities, “we have access to these beautiful, healing horses at our Retreat Center and this experience fits right into the flow of what we do here at Rio, it can help to integrate the work our participants have been doing in group all week with a mindful self-awareness.”

Christie, equine specialists at The Meadows, spent Thursday evening with twelve of our Rio Retreat workshop participants. Working with Black Jack and Phantom, participants engaged in round pen activities building relationship, communication and trust with the horses. On the first evening, the feedback was phenomenal –

“This experience was amazing! My horse helped me to feel grounded in my Survivors workshop experience”

“I was so engaged with the horses, I loved the interaction with them, I had so much fun!”

“There’s a quote on the wall at the corrals – I may not speak your language, but when you spend time in my presence and listen with your heart – you will hear my voice. This rang so true for me.”


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5 Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful During National Stress Awareness Month

105018191-GettyImages-182964964.1910x1000For Americans working hard to perform well at their jobs, the cost of success may come in the form of poor health, stress and burnout, an issue many can tackle during National Stress Awareness month in April.

Roughly 63 percent of U.S. workers said they regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, to combat work-related stress, according to a Statista survey of over 17,000 adults.

Though leaving stress behind at work may seem difficult, happiness expert and Fortune 100 adviser Michelle Gielan says having a more positive and optimistic life at home only requires minor tweaks to your day-to-day habits.

“I don’t think you need a major overhaul in your life. You just need consistent, small habit changes to make a difference,” Gielan tells CNBC Make It. “If we don’t stop to think about the culture at home, there is a chance we’re not creating an environment that is actually the best it can be and make us the happiest possible.”

Gielan founded the Institute for Applied Positive Research along with her husband Shawn Achor, a former Harvard University lecturer and fellow researcher on positive psychology. Over the past 11 years, they’ve trained companies and schools to be more positive through their work as consultants at GoodThink.

In addition to writing several of their own books, they have also worked with Oprah Winfrey for an OWN Lifeclass course on happiness.

Even as renowned happiness experts, Gielan says she and her husband recently felt stressed at home because of work.

“It was hard to watch him be stressed and under the pressure of deadlines while also keeping up with things he had going on in his life both professionally and personally,” Gielan says. “And then me as a spouse, to watch him feeling stressed, I felt helpless oftentimes.”

Here are the five simple steps Gielan says they followed to create a stress-free environment at home.

Discuss the issue with those you live with

Whether you, your partner or someone you share a home with is stressed, Gielan recommends getting everyone together over dinner or beers to sit and talk.

“This is a really important first step because, through this conversation, you’re identifying a challenge that everyone is experiencing,” Gielan says.

Today, 51 percent of Americans turn to their family or friends when they feel stressed, while 38 percent try to withstand the stress alone, according to another 2017 Statista survey.

This conversation will help those living together create a new culture at home. For example, Gielan and her husband decided there would be no more work talk after 5 p.m. or over the weekends.

“Talking through what that new culture would look like can involve everyone in the process and invest them more deeply in creating a more positive outcome,” Gielan adds.

Use positive visual cues

Whether it’s the photos by your desk or an inspiring quote by your nightstand, Gielan notes that visual cues are a low-effort way to cheer yourself up.

“We often underestimate the value that visual reminders can play in our lives,” Gielan says.

These cues trigger your brain to think of a good memory, she explains, which then elicits a positive emotion. The practice can also help you form positive habits through anchoring, or creating an automatic connection between two pieces of information.

For example, Gielan wanted her son to think “I love reading,” so she posted photos around the house of him smiling while reading books. This eventually helped her son visually reinforce the thought “I like to read.”

Visual reminders can also show that you’ve accomplished a goal in the past and are capable of doing so again.

Put the tech away

Gielan’s favorite step in decreasing stress at home was putting tech away.

“Shawn and I both realized we unconsciously grabbed our phones and were checking our email or social media, which we didn’t need to be doing at that moment,” Gielan says.

To keep her from automatically reaching for her phone, Gielan placed the device in a zip-top bag and tied a rubber band around it.

“Every time I went for my phone, there was more activation energy needed to be able to look at it and it served as a reminder that hey, this isn’t what you wanted to be doing, so just leave it in the bag,” she says.

On your laptop, you can put a sticky note on it that says, “How about journaling?” or “How about going for a run?” to put your mind toward that habit you want to create instead.

‘Take a break’


Gielan says it’s key to take some downtime when you get home from work.

“Take a break — from the moment you walk in the door through dinner — and be fully present,” Gielan says. “Engage in some rejuvenating activity because if you have to go back to work later in the day, you’re going to go back with a better mindset.”


For example, Gielan says to avoid complaining about work and recommends beginning a more positive conversation.

Instead of asking, “How was your day?” where the response can head in any direction, Gielan says to ask a leading question such as, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What is the coolest thing you learned?”

“This prompts them to look for an answer to fit the kind of question you’re asking,” Gielan says. “It also encourages their brain to scan for the most positive or meaningful part of their day and doesn’t result in what a lot of us do, which is starting off with the negative.”

Get the right amount of sleep

Gielan says sleep is crucial to avoiding feeling stressed at home.

By getting more sleep, “you’re setting yourself up to have a better day,” Gielan points out, given “the brain processes things differently when it’s low on resources.”

“Unfortunately, corporate America tells us that we need to work tons of hours all the time, but the reality is that our bodies need to rest and rejuvenate in order to perform at its best,” she says.

Although getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night might lessen time spent on work, Gielan says it’s actually an investment in our performance.

Once Gielan made these small changes in her life, she says she experienced a greater sense of control over her life and connection to her husband.

“It did wonders all around,” she says. “It led to an improvement in our relationship because his stress decreased and I felt like I was being helpful.”

Gielan adds, “He, in turn, helped me feel accountable when I was not bagging up my technology and I felt like it was good for our son as he watched the changes we were undergoing.”

The changes may not have been huge, but “they had huge results.”


“I wasn’t just subject to the demands of the external world, I was more consciously creating the life that I wanted to live,” she says.


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Healing the Roots of Women’s Sexual and Relational Struggles

Healing the Roots of Women’s Sexual and Relational Struggles

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 (, 2018)
  • 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 has been sexually harassed at work (, 2018)
  • 80% of 21-year-olds abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder (, 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.


11 Facts about child abuse.  Retrieved January 2018 from

Cosmopolitan survey of 2,235 full and part-time female employees, 2015.  Retrieved January 2018 from

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.

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Relationships Can Be Difficult but there is Help for Healing

RelationshipsRelationships are hard. There’s no getting around it. Put more than one person in the same place for long enough and you’re sure to have problems. It’s as certain as death, taxes and computer problems. In his book Your Brain on Love, Dr. Stan Tatkin says that “there really is nothing more difficult on the planet than another person…nothing.” I tend to agree with him. My personal history with relationships and my work as working as a Marriage and Family Therapist seem to confirm that there’s nothing that will complicate your life more than another human. As much as we desire and need other people in our life, we simply cannot avoid the pain and conflict that inevitably comes when we enter a relationship. It’s a catch-22 of the human condition.

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 Bootcamp workshop 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 1-866-997-8770.

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Your Family Survived the Holidays…But Not Exactly Unscathed


There is nothing quite like the holidays to bring a family closer together…or to drive them even further apart. Families and holidays can be wonderful.  However, they can also be painful and traumatic.  Even the best families can have some holiday drama.

Holiday family drama is so common that it is the storyline for many movies—most of them pretty entertaining.  In the movie, A Christmas Story Ralphie’s family shows us how they cope with a turkey disaster, the terrible leg lamp, and Ralphie almost shooting out his eye with his Red Ryder BB gun that he almost did not get.  Kevin gets forgotten and left behind for three days in Home Alone while his family struggles to organize themselves for their holiday vacation.  The Griswold family deals with annoying in-laws, unexpected guests, power outages, sewage issues, a visit from the SWAT team, and a fire in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  While these movies are funny and end well, not all of us experience such a nicely wrapped-up Hollywood ending.

My own family dealt with some holiday drama this past Christmas.  Due to a prior disagreement, I was not invited to the gathering at a family member’s home though everyone else was expected to attend.  I was hurt. While my family was attending that event, I decided to join a friend’s family dinner rather than sitting at home alone and upset.  My friend’s family also had some holiday chaos and tension.  Ultimately, at both family gatherings, someone ended up in tears on Christmas day.  While there were no beautiful endings, we all survived, but feelings were left hurt and relationships left damaged.

After the holidays, family members often take with them more than the gifts from under the Christmas tree.  When families find themselves dealing with hurt feelings, damaged relationships, guilt for behaviors or reactions, or shame brought up through family interactions, it may be time to seek some assistance.  There is help and healing available for families who find themselves in this situation.

Whether it is the holiday season or any other time of the year, families do matter and most people want to resolve family issues they experience.  Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers a customized workshop called Family Matters.  The Family Matters workshop offers a supportive and safe environment for family members to work through issues by encouraging them to be authentic, communicate productively, utilize boundaries, and function in a constructive fashion. The Family Matters workshop helps families identify and resolve conflicts and teaches them how to develop tools and healthy strategies to manage conflicts in the future that will improve a relational family system. The ultimate goal of this workshop is to help family members bridge the gaps that have plagued the family system.

If you or someone you know would like to enroll in the Family Matters workshop, please call our intake department at 866-441-0368 or click here to learn more.

Written by Dr. Georgia Fourlas, LCSW, LISAC, CSAT-S, Clinical Director of Workshops for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows

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Healing Relational Trauma

The Rio Retreat Bunkhouse is designed to be conducive to the process of healing and recovery. Book your stay at The Bunkhouse when you register for your workshop for added convenience, and more immersive healing environment.

Bunkhouse lodging is available on a first come, first serve basis; early registration is recommended.


Rooms and Accommodations

The rooms at The Bunkhouse are purposely free of the distractions that often accompany hotel lodging such as TVs and phones. Rooms are very simply furnished with two twin beds, storage space, an alarm clock, and luggage stand. All rooms have their own private bathroom.

Bunkhouse occupants will have access to the swimming pool during certain hours. Modest bathing suits are required.

A Sunday evening snack will be provided. Meals will be provided from Monday morning through Noon on Friday.

Tian Dayton Psychodrama Workshop

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THRIVE is an experiential intensive that takes you to the next level of recovery.

Workshop for Addiction

Hanging onto old pain keeps us preoccupied with our past and anxious about our future, rather than living in the present. Releasing dysfunctional roles and embracing new ones empowers us to experience our full potential. But before we’re able to release worn out roles, we need to give voice and shape to them. This action oriented process will provide a unique opportunity to engage in an exploration that will lead you to a greater sense of aliveness and purpose: a life changing new experience carved out of time to energize and revitalize —to live your actualized life!

The workshop will emphasize:

  • Forgiveness
  • Resilience Training
  • Post Traumatic Growth
  • Consolidating Recovery Gains
    Counseling for Grief Arizona

To THRIVE is to……

Engage: More fully and mindfully in your relationships and day-to-day life.
Embrace: A deepened and more purposeful sense of self.
Expand: And revitalize your life roles.
Energize: Forgive the past to live more fully in the present.
Empower: Take ownership of your own healing and attitude towards life.

Healing Relational Trauma

Healing The Family

Our team is strongly committed to the emotional health and healing of spouses, partners, and families impacted by the consequences of negative behaviors. We understand that destructive patterns often result in hurt, betrayal and a breakdown in trust between the individual and their family members. The MeadowsRio Retreat Workshops have been developed to help participants tackle their emotional issues and gain a better understanding of how they can discover a better way of living.

Rediscover yourself

Rebuilding Relationships

Workshops at the Rio Retreat Center are designed to help you understand your own needs, desires, emotions, habits, and everything else that makes you who you are. The more you know about yourself, the better equipped you are to engage in healthy relationships and have an improved sense of self. To learn more about the Rio Retreat Center or to sign up for one of our groundbreaking workshops, call us at 866-835-5431 or fill out the form below and a representative will be happy to provide you more information.

Self Development Workshops