At Brookhaven Retreat, we strongly believe that the road to recovery does not exist solely within the walls of a counseling room. Our open campus and voluntary environment allows for a wide range of activities that target the relational, social, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of each woman who comes through our doors. We know there is no one tool that works for everyone so we offer a variety in order to meet the needs of each of our clients. We want every client to learn to live again and to function both individually and within a group. We build on the unique strengths of each individual and then teach skills that become integral in each client’s life so that recovery can become life-long. This emphasis on identifying and promoting each client’s strengths permeates throughout the Brookhaven program.
The grounds at Brookhaven Retreat offer clients the ability to take part in a variety of outdoor activities that adapt to the season. We embrace the serenity that one finds when the noise of life is shut out allowing one to reconnect with nature and the simplicity and calming pace of nature’s life cycle.
Horses provide highly accurate feedback about personalities, attitudes and moods by mirroring human body language. With this unique therapy, touch, movement and other elements not part of the traditional therapeutic environment replace speaking. Some women have lived in emotional isolation for so long that connecting with animals feels like a safer starting place than directly communicating with humans. (See our Equine Assisted Therapy page for more information.)
Low Element Ropes Course
There is no better place to see group dynamics than on the ropes course. Whatever the task or role this activity is sure to illustrate the communication and interaction styles that a women carries into her interpersonal relationships. Ropes Course activities reveal characteristics such as: who is a leader or a follower, who is assertive or passive, who is able to ask for help, who completes the task, or who gives up. These activities also foster conversations such as how one measures success and failure. Ropes Course activities help clients learn by doing, not by reading or hearing.
While we offer a proper fitness experience for our clients through a local gym, this type of walking is a bit different from that done for exercise. When you pair walking with the DBT principle of mindfulness, the exercise takes on a whole new meaning. The emphasis during Mindful Walking is on attending to nature, activating the senses and learning tools to direct our thoughts and feelings. Initially, this is often a staff-guided task, but as clients progress they will find that they are able to use mindfulness principles in many areas of life.
What better way to dig back into life and activity than to put one’s hands in the soil and help grow and nurture plants in the garden? Whether tending to the rose garden, planting herbs or planning a new bed design, many women find gardening to be a joyful and healing activity. There is true reward in reconnecting to the things that keep us grounded and help us appreciate the splendor of each moment.
Nature Trails & Creek
Nestled on 48 acres in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, Brookhaven Retreat’s campus presents an opportunity for sense restoration. Whether it is a walk on the rugged trails of the ropes course, a visit to the bubbling creek, or a stroll on the smooth trails that border the grounds, clients can always find a place of their own.
The Fire Pit at Brookhaven not only serves as a gathering place for social activities but also provides an opportunity for a sense of closure. Often times the women that come to Brookhaven are so haunted by the past that they feel chained to their pain. One of the main goals of therapy is to let go of old hurts and disappointments. Many of our women find that a letting-go ritual is helpful as a final closing to a chapter that they can no longer directly affect. For some, the burning of items that are associated with this pain is found to be a very relieving experience.
Whilst we spend much of our time working on the individual we also recognize that one measure of success is also how the individual functions cooperatively with others. There is very little done in isolation in life; be it family units, classrooms, or work environments, we all need skills to interact with others in order to survive. Recreational activities such as softball, badminton, volleyball, and others are offered onsite. These activities help to connect clients to a sense of free-spirited play and demonstrate uncontrived relational skills.
Clients at Brookhaven Retreat are also introduced to a variety of tools that help stimulate the mind and spirit. We find that a tool that works well for one person may be dreaded by another. Sometimes a tool that is avoided early in treatment may become the tool that moves a client most in later phases of treatment. Our goal is to offer a breadth of tools so that we can tailor interventions to the strengths and the progress of each client.
This tool is a way to center one’s self and focus and direct the mind. There are many types of contemplation that we offer including guided contemplations that focus on specific areas such as compassion or pain relief as well as others that are self-directed. Some contemplation practices help clients set the tone of their day and teach them to take charge of their own emotional reactions. This tool requires practice to truly appreciate its value.
Almost everyone is familiar with the use of journaling as a therapeutic tool but many find that initially writing about one’s thoughts and feelings is awkward and unfamiliar. Often, as a woman persists in using this tool some of her most valuable insights and realizations will arise while writing. If used during the treatment stay, this tool becomes one of the most revealing of the progress that a woman makes in her thinking, her feelings and her communication skills. Entries from the first week of treatment as compared to the fourth, eighth or eleventh week will vary greatly and help document the experience for future reflection.
Artistic expression can be beneficial to anyone but is particularly helpful for those who have difficulty expressing their feelings with words. What comes through the hands is often quite different than what comes through the mouth. We use several mediums of art as therapy that allow our clients to express what they can't say. Art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem and self-awareness.
Music & Movement
We have found music to be a very powerful tool when it comes to shifting or enhancing the mood. Whether through writing music, playing an instrument, singing or dancing, music is a tool that uplifts most and helps client’s explore their feelings more thoroughly. We also find that sometimes it is just essential to get up and move around to activate the mind, body and soul.
Belief System Support
Well-developed belief systems serve as the foundation for our personal integrity. We feel that it is important for us to support clients in ways that serve to foster the development of or reconnection with each client’s personal guiding principles. Belief systems vary from spiritual beliefs, to cultural beliefs to personal ethical beliefs and contribute to the development and view of the self. At Brookhaven, we do not focus on one particular belief system but instead help each client define for herself her own belief system and how that system figures into her life.
Life Reconstruction (Poncho® Program)
Once a woman has begun to recover and heal, she still has to figure out how to live outside of Brookhaven. The Poncho Program covers thirty different elements of life and helps each woman plan how she will address each of them in a healthy way after her treatment. At Brookhaven Retreat we are not just interested in helping a woman to get well but rather to ensure she has the tools to stay well long term.