About the Retreats
CenterPoint Recovery Retreats offer a way for women veterans to re-enter the civilian world with the personal and interpersonal skills needed for an engaged, resilient, and satisfying life. The retreats offer an intensive immersion experience of community and supportive relationships, often a respite from the isolation that many women veterans experience. CenterPoint retreats honor the many positive military experiences of veterans, while teaching specific tools for self-regulation and recovery from traumatic or stressful experience, and the skills needed to create supportive community when veterans return home.
Retreats take place at comfortable facilities in peaceful natural environments, so that many activities and discussions can take place in the context and support of the natural world. The retreats allow women to connect with other women veterans and learn tools for dealing with post-traumatic stress and other issues that commonly affect women veterans. The support of others on a similar journey, skilled facilitation, and a wide range of new experiences give each woman an opportunity to witness her strengths and capabilities, and to practice new ways of being with herself, others, and unfamiliar situations. This gentle stretching of one’s ‘comfort zone’ is an essential element of recovery from the isolation and avoidance that are frequently hallmarks of post-military experience.
CenterPoint Retreats are grounded in current research and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While not all participants at a retreat may have a diagnosis of PTSD, tools for self-regulation are taught in such a way that they are applicable to managing the stress of everyday life. There is a wide range of issues that can be explored during a retreat, but many common themes emerge, including trusting others, setting boundaries, giving and receiving support, staying present, staying true to one’s self in relationships, healthy communication, and finding one’s strength and competence.
The tone of CenterPoint Retreats is one of friendliness, mutual respect, and a genuine valuing of the experience and perspective of each participant. The program helps each woman strengthen areas of needed development by building on existing strengths, rather than focusing on areas of weakness. Facilitators encourage honest self-expression by being personally authentic and genuinely appreciative of each participant.
Retreat Structure and Activities
Retreats generally consist of 25 to 30 participants. To provide individualized guidance and to facilitate the interpersonal connections that are so important in the recovery and reintegration process, participants will be sub-grouped into groups of eight to ten participants and two facilitators. A sense of larger community will be fostered by workshops, meals and other activities shared by the large group, but each participant will process her on-going experience in a small group that remains consistent throughout the retreat.
The development of personal awareness and mindfulness is central to CenterPoint Retreats. Yoga and meditation are offered each morning, and the practice of mindful awareness is integrated throughout the program. Self-regulation tools are taught using a model that includes breath, somatic (body) awareness and cognitive (thinking) awareness. Biofeedback, Tension Release Exercises, relaxation methods, and communication skills are taught as ways to reinforce the self-regulation skills that are practiced during all activities and discussions throughout the retreat.
Activities are structured to build core competencies in self-awareness, self-expression, self-regulation, interpersonal skills, and decision-making. These skills will then be used to address larger outcome goals, including trust building, development of personal and interpersonal confidence, re-integration issues, and recovery from traumatic experience.
Participants will be immersed in community, participating in group activities, practicing self-care, and informally engaging with peers and facilitators, for the entire period of the retreat, day and evening. Weather permitting, most daytime activities, including discussions, will take place outdoors. Outdoor activities are used as a vehicle for building relationship skills and practicing self-regulation, and will include team-building initiatives, a low ropes course, and a high ropes course and/or climbing wall. Short hikes, group discussions, journal writing, and other components to help process and integrate the experience will be scheduled into each day, as appropriate for the group and individuals. All accommodations are ADA approved, and all activities can be adapted for women of different physical ability.
Who Is Eligible?
CenterPoint Retreats are open to women veterans who are actively engaged in their re-integration to civilian life. Current funding is for women veterans who were deployed during OEF/OIF, and are currently in counseling at a Vet Center. It is important that each woman have at least a basic understanding of the issue she wants to address during the retreat, and has support to help her transfer the learning from the retreat to her home life. Therefore it is required that applicants be currently engaged in counseling or therapy, and have been in counseling for at least three sessions. Applicants must have already addressed sobriety issues, and need to be clean and sober for at least one month prior to the retreat. Personal motivation and ability to work on personal issues in a group setting are also addressed in the screening process.