I wanted to interview Dana Taylor because she is opening Magnolia Landing, a new treatment center for women recovering from addiction and trauma, on the Inner Banks of North Carolina. I wanted to talk to her about different ideas of treatment and given that she is creating a program from the ground up, how she is operationalizing different treatment modalities.
What does an integrated treatment model mean to you?
Over the last several years terminology such as “dual diagnosis,” “clinically intensive” and “holistic approach” have become more of what I would define as catch-all phrases rather than program specific modalities. Magnolia Landing was founded on a heart-felt desire to provide specialized substance abuse and trauma treatment for women. For many women these two diagnoses are linked. I wholeheartedly believe we would be doing our clients a disservice if we did not utilize integrated treatment in our model.
Trauma and Addiction impacts not only the outer self, but the inner self as well. Integrated therapy allows us to utilize various modalities to address the impact trauma and addiction has on our thoughts, feelings, and values as well as relationships and behaviors. In addressing both the inner and outer self, our goal is for women to feel and understand the importance of the connection between their thoughts and feelings with their relationships and behaviors. It is our mission to provide a safe environment where healing comes through authenticity and grace, allowing women to find the beauty in standing with dignity, as they know their worth. We have Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Meditation, Yoga, Breathwork, Experiential Therapy, Art and Creative Expression & the use of Cinematography to create discussion groups on topics.
I know that you are integrating the 12 Steps into your model, but please explain how.
12 Step work will be a part of our integrated treatment model. In an effort to maintain balance between 12 step work and clinical care, we chose to utilize a curriculum integrating Dr. Stephanie Covington’s A Woman’s Way Through the 12 Steps with her Beyond Trauma – A Healing Journey for Women. Dr. Covington’s work is among the most respected in the gender-responsive field, and her approach is in harmony with our mission of healing through authenticity and connection and living in grace and dignity.
Integrating this curriculum with community based 12 Step meetings, allows for women to recognize the importance of connection with others in a life of recovery and healing.
What do you think are the values of gender specific treatment for women?
First and foremost, I feel the need to acknowledge that gender makes a difference, whether one identifies as male, female or transgender. This paves the way to create an emotionally and physically safe environment where grace and dignity is shared and cultivated.
I strongly believe and recognize that there are women who require gender-specific treatment in order to feel the safety necessary to heal; often times this is the case with a diagnosis of trauma.
Magnolia Landing was created out of great love and compassion for women and their families. I have worked in this field for eleven years, in various capacities, and there have been many times where I felt helpless when I would tell a family that they have so few options for women-only programming. This was especially true for East Coast families. To not only be able to provide an additional resource for such women and their families, but also to also be a part of it with them is invaluable.
It is amazing when there are so many options, yet when you put the real criteria together for a client, there are so few. Creating a safe community in a treatment facility is hard. I was thinking about Johann Hari's TED Talk, which investigated the biological and sociological factors of addiction and concluded that addiction is caused by disconnection, and adding “social recovery” helps increase efficacy and motivation treatment.
Relationships, trust and being in a safe place are pieces of your Integrated Treatment approach. What is the biggest struggle when you are creating treatment community that is healthy, supportive and not focused on the negative?
For years I stayed up late at night journaling what I longed for in women's treatment. I knew without a doubt, it would be a program founded by heart and soul. This work is what I live for. Helping individuals and families is what helps keep me sober, which makes me a better mother, wife, daughter, sister. So much of my own self-worth comes thru this work. We want the women of Magnolia Landing to be surrounded by other individuals and especially women who have found their passion, used it as a gift to help others and when these women look at them, not only do they feel it, but they can see it. If we surround these women with such individuals, then they can't think it only changes for others. We want them to experience encouragement and know that WE not only believe in them, but who they are when they are true to their heart.
To answer your question the greatest struggle would be not only finding the right team, but internally promoting that environment we want the women to model. We hired our staff based on their passions; what is it in their life that they will show up everyday doing what they love and can bring in a way that will exemplify perseverance, grace and dignity.
99.9% of the time when I have seen programs struggling with client retention or program cohesion, it is not a client issue, but leadership and staffing. We have to be willing to take a good look at ourselves, first as founders/owners, then we look to our staff. Are we living and giving all that we ask of our clients? Are we as owners creating a supportive environment for our staff? We hired them because of their passion, we should not stifle it, but provide opportunities for them to grow and expand their abilities. It is vital to an individual's success to be surrounded by people who believe in and exemplify the work they do.
What types of yoga will you use and how will it work for your clients?
We have an amazing and talented certified yoga instructor on our team, Angela Needham. As I stated above, we hired individuals who would be able to come to work sharing their passion, and gift for healing. Angela has this deep passion where she utilizes yoga as a method to mentor others to their journey to authentic self. Yoga allows individuals to experience a deeper awareness of their thoughts and actions; it has the ability to touch on every level of one’s being—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Studies show the practice of yoga as a powerful and effective means for trauma victims, allowing them to calm their minds, experience emotions directly, and begin to feel a sense of strength and control.
While at Magnolia Landing women will be able to participate in various practices of yoga three mornings a week, such as : Spiritually Oriented Yoga, Therapeutic Yoga, Flow Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Standup Paddle Yoga, Laughter Yoga, iRest Yoga, Alignment-oriented Yoga, and Recovery 2.0.
Breathwork is another powerful and experiential body-focused technique. We believe in implementing it as a part of our program to allow clients to have somatic body experiences related to their trauma in a safe, supportive environment.
Going back to the original question on integrated therapy, these therapeutic modalities provide a path to the connection between mental, physical, and spiritual well-being; empowering our female clients to take a deeper, more personal look at their vision of health and wellness.
About the Author:
Dana Taylor has over 11 years of experience in the treatment and recovery field. She is a graduate from Southern Utah University with degrees in Sociology and Political Science. Dana has worked in Wilderness Therapy and Residential Treatment having various roles like Executive Director, Admission Director and in Business Development. Dana also advocates and volunteers for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addiction. She is also connected to various other local addiction groups.