Located on 94 acres in Florida’s Ocala National Forest, The Refuge offers the highest quality of comprehensive treatment services to individuals have been struggling with trauma, addiction, and a host of additional mental and behavioral health concerns.
Who We Are
The approach to treatment at The Refuge – A Healing Place is a long-term, 12-step based program that treats each person as a unique individual. We believe trauma is centered in the nervous system and telling the story in a nature-setting helps the nervous system process the trauma. Processing the trauma reduces the need for maladaptive coping mechanisms including substance abuse or process addictions. Through our years of service, The Refuge understands that there is not a single approach to trauma work; each person’s nervous system is unique and the path to recovery is different for everyone. We offer a variety of treatment approaches and methods designed to heal the whole person.
In today’s treatment centers, the awareness of the relationship between trauma and addiction is expanding. What’s been discovered is simple – certain life events have created negative responses in the sufferer’s body, mind, and spirit. This, in turn, can lead to poor choices and decisions. The ways in which we live depend on how we experience the world. Treating trauma and addiction in an integrated approach is what sets The Refuge apart; our approach addresses all aspects of recovery with highly effective results.
Traumatic events may include sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, divorce, separation from siblings, frequent changes in living situations, which often results in isolation. These stressors may change how we feel about ourselves and can lead to addiction and other self-destructive behaviors.
At The Refuge, our primary task is to help our clients understand that their behaviors are a symptom of underlying conditions; from there the puzzle pieces fall into place. Through trauma work, our clients learn to understand that their behaviors do not define who they are; they are coping measures they have used to survive. Layers of shame and guilt begin to melt away as clients commit themselves to a different way of life. The Refuge understands the value of the 12-step model, which teaches us to ask for help, changes our view of the world and those around us, teaches us to take responsibility for our past and present actions, and helps us learn to focus on others.
Treating trauma without treating addiction will leave the client with an understanding without practice. Conversely, treating only addiction will leave clients with a practice without understanding. Both equate to an incomplete solution and relapse. At The Refuge, we provide direction, guidance, and safety which allows our clients to make a full recovery and teaches clients the tools to maintain it. Recovery will grow throughout their lifetime, allowing those to understand the meaning and purpose of their lives needed to navigate the elements – joy, sadness, success, failure – while maintaining total well-being.
At The Refuge, we use a variety of different therapies to help our clients work through trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, process addictions, and self-defeating behaviors. The approaches to treatment at The Refuge include:
Yoga: is a physical practice that allows our clients to experience a deeper awareness where their thoughts, actions, and character can be shaped to find alignment within the mind. Yoga is a system for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, allowing individuals to explore themselves on all levels. Through yoga our clients, who are struggling with certain beliefs as a result of trauma, addiction, and other personal life experiences, can come to understand the roots of their frustration and unhappiness in their lives. Additionally, yoga provides a system of techniques for the gradual improvement of health, including greater emotional and mental stability.
Meditation/Mindfulness: at The Refuge, our clients attend group meditation at least five times per week. Mediation allows our community to become centered and aware of their body and surroundings.
Breathwork: is experiential, body-focused technique that allows clients to experience spiritual, emotional, and somatic body experiences related to their trauma in a safe, supportive environment. Breathwork is a powerful personal development tool that uses conscious connected breathing techniques to bring to the surface of our awareness the physical, mental, and emotional blocks that keep us in unhealthy patterns. Open to the whole community, we offer breathwork twice per week. Many find that this practice allows them to explore emotions and traumas rooted and suppressed deep in our core.
Hypnotherapy: is a well-practiced experiential trauma treatment technique that allows us to safely and willingly bypass our old defenses and provides us the freedom to think, feel and act differently. The first stage of hypnotherapy makes sure the client has solid resources; once the therapist feels comfortable that the client can move forward, the therapeutic process begins. We begin exploring traumas and making strong connections to past feelings, behaviors, and memories. Hypnotherapy aims to allow each client to rethink and re-frame past negative patterns of feeling and thinking so they can make confident, new, and healthier decisions. Hypnotherapy has been very effective in helping addicts and trauma survivors succeed in their recovery and resolve their trauma.
Equine: the Equine staff at The Refuge is trained in Eagala techniques and we employ our horses to provide clients with experiential opportunities for healing. We use horses as these animals are honest and able to mirror what human body language is telling them. The Refuge horses provide an effective technique when working with clients imprisoned by secrets, trauma, or failed attempts at recovery. One of the most significant lessons learned in our equine-assisted psychotherapy is if clients change themselves, the horses respond differently. Typically, clients will have several opportunities to work with our horses – seeing the change in a horse’s response can be more powerful than positive verbal feedback.
Somatic Experiencing®: S.E. encourages and uses awareness of sensations in the body to help client “renegotiate” and heal their trauma and PTSD. Through this perspective, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be seen as unhealed trauma that has been locked in the body over time. Rather than catharsis or reenactment, which can trigger re-traumatization and re-arousal of intense emotional states, S.E. works to integrate powerful energies at the speed and level in which each client can safely assimilate within their own nervous system.
The Refuge clinicians use specialized assignments that help clients work through trauma, PTSD, and process addictions. These assignments are designed to engage clients in their trauma(s) and work through them and include:
Timeline: This assignment allows the client to present an experiential chronology of their life. This allows each client to detail their traumatic events as well as noting their accomplishments and resiliency. This assignment is a powerful tool as the client has the opportunity to clearly see positive and negative patterns, family dynamics, and relationship patterns. This is a longer term assignment and usually requires the participant to spend a few hours both creating and presenting the work. This assignment can be used in many different ways: relationships, finances, food, sex, work, or gambling patterns.
Body Map: This is an amazing assignment for those with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, sexual abuse, or other body discomforts. It allows a client to show and identify where the actual pain or trauma occurred and the locations a client is comfortable or uncomfortable with their body.
Trauma Egg: The Refuge clinicians agree that this is one of the most powerful assignments given to trauma survivors. The trauma egg is designed so that the client draws the first traumatic experience they can remember at the bottom of the egg, drawing more recent chronological traumas above it. This assignment can be used in many different ways, including financial, sexuality, and work.
Collage: while collage can center upon any subject, the client works to identify what subject it should be on. A collage may include newspaper clippings, ribbons, bits of colored or hand-made papers, portions of other artwork, photographs, and other found objects, that are glued to a piece of paper or canvas. This assignment is a great way for a person to express themselves or their trauma without words.
Letters: can be used for a variety of different reasons. The Refuge clinicians ask clients to write letters to a significant other, child, higher power, self, family and friends. Writing a letter enables a person to say what cannot be said.