Podcast Series: Denver Recovery Center

Gina: Hey, Jason. Nice to have you here.

Jason: Hi, Gina. Thanks for having me.

 It’s good to have you a part of the Harmony Foundation podcast series today and for taking the time to come up and visit us here in Estes Park. You’re with Denver Recovery Center, you’re the Executive Director.

Jason: That’s right.

Gina: But you actually live in Arizona and you commute back and forth, that’s quite a long commute but it sounds like you don’t have a problem with that.

Jason: That’s right, yeah. I live in Arizona most of the time and I live in Colorado part of the time. I’m here a couple times a month, so probably 30% of the time in Colorado and about 70% of the time in Scottsdale, where I grew up.

Gina: We were talking offline, you have a bit of a love affair with Colorado, as I do. So it was a good call for you to move out this way and open up Denver Recovery Center.

Jason: Yes. Yeah, I spent about half my life in northern Arizona so when I came up to Colorado for the first time it reminded me so much of northern Arizona that I just fell in love with it and decided-

Gina: Yeah, it’s hard not to.

Jason: Yeah. Yes, absolutely.

Gina: That’s great. Well, we’re going to talk a little bit about your program, which isn’t been open but maybe, what, a year? A little over a year, here in Colorado?

Jason: Denver Recovery Center, we opened the beginning of 2018.

Gina: So, very young.

Jason: Yes, yes.

Gina: Okay, yep. So great. Well, we’re excited to have you guys here.

Jason: Thank you.

Gina: And before we talk specifically about the services that you all offer, I want to learn a little bit about your background so that people can get to know you a little bit better.

Jason: Okay.

Gina: Tell us what got you into the field of addiction treatment.

Jason: Well, I’m a person in longterm recovery. So I’ve been sober for 16 years, and I’m passionate about recovery. Along with addiction recovery, I’m also passionate about yoga, healthy eating, outdoor experiences, and it was really my dream and passion to be able to bring all of this together into one program so I can share with others my journey of recovery and all of the other splendors of life that I’ve been able to enjoy. So that was really my idea when creating Denver Recovery Center, is to-

Gina: That’s great.

Jason: Yeah, thank you.

Gina: Paying it forward and sharing the strength, hope, and experience that we all need to do, right?

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So that’s great.

Jason: Exactly.

Gina: So you opened at the beginning of 2018 and you all are in Arvada? Or in Broomfield?

Jason: We’re in Broomfield.

Gina: Broomfield.

Jason: On Interlocken Boulevard in Broomfield.

Gina: Great. Which is fairly close, for people who are listening. It’s almost in between Denver and Boulder.

Jason: It is, yeah. We’re about 25 minutes outside of Denver and about 20 minutes outside of Boulder. So located right in between the two and-

Gina: Two very different communities.

Jason: Absolutely.

Gina:Two very different communities.

Jason:I’ve learned that, yeah. They’re almost like two different worlds.

Gina: They really are.

Jason: But it’s great because we can offer services to people that are living in both communities.

Gina: Let’s go into that, let’s talk a little bit about the services that you all offer.

Jason: Sure, so we’re an extended care program for people that are looking for more of a longterm program, where they can get integrated into the larger recovery community in the area, while also working with licensed Master’s-level clinicians to resolve some of the past traumas, look at some of the underlying issues that are going on, work on family issues, professional issues, really do some personal development work, and then also learn some life skills issues, that many people leave behind in their addictions. Basic things like waking up, making your bed, learning how to cook, learning how to live in a community. And overall, really boosting people’s self-esteem and allowing our clients to thrive while they’re at Denver Recovery Center, but also building the habits of recovery so they can thrive and really succeed in life when they leave our program.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s interesting because so many of the people that I’ve spoken with who are in early recovery say that it’s not just the area, people, places, and things that can trip you up in early recovery, but in fact the basic things that we all take for granted, like just learning how to grocery shop and the stress that can be involved with grocery shopping for the first time in recovery or paying your bills and learning how to balance a checkbook. That some of those stressors, the things that you’re talking about that you all teach, can be the foundation of what successful recovery can look like.

Jason: That’s right. Yes, yes. We want to allow our clients to have some, I want to say, real life experiences, while they’re with us. So they can learn how to walk through some of these situations, like going out to a restaurant, or going for a hike, or going to a museum while they’re with us so they know that they can successfully manage these aspects of life when they leave our program and get integrated back in with their families and their work life.

Gina: Which is again another necessary part of how people stay sober.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So you’ve got a concept, you do a gender-responsive program. So your program is men and women specific, is that correct?

Jason: Yes. Our program, the structure of it is, is that we have a PHP, IOP, OP program, where our clients are in group and individual therapy during the day and then they return to our housing in the evening time. The houses are gender-responsive, so they’re gender specific. And then while they’re in our clinical program during the day most of the groups are integrated together, co-ed, but then we also have separate gender groups as well. I think the importance of that is … There’s a lot of things. There’s many benefits to having co-ed groups, but there’s a lot of benefits to being separated as well. And sometimes males and females feel more comfortable when they’re just separated than together, and there’s issues that they can talk about that they don’t feel comfortable talking about in mixed company.

Gina: Right, right.

Jason: There are some issues that are just gender-specific issues. And there’s also a lot to learn from working together as well.

Gina: Learning how to communicate with the opposite sex.

Jason: That’s right.

Gina:And learning about how to have relationships without having relationships, for those of you that don’t see, I’m talking air quote relationships.

Jason: That’s right, yes.

Gina: Yeah. So there’s definitely that too. Well, that’s good.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: We’re onboard with being gender responsive for that very reason, in that we believe that women may come into treatment for very different reasons than men do and it’s okay for them to be able to address those issues with other women. Like men, who might be dealing with stressors and struggles in a different way.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So that totally makes sense. Well, we always like to talk a little bit about the individual themselves, so not just your program but the person behind the program. So I’m going to ask you a couple questions that hopefully we’ll get to know you a little bit better.

Jason: Sure.

Gina: How is failure, or apparent failure because some people might not see it that way, set you up for success later in life? And do you have a favorite failure of yours that you’d like to share?

Jason: I was thinking about this question and it’s interesting that you say apparent failure, a play on words. So the one that came to mind right away is my relationship with my parents.

Gina: Ah, interesting.

Jason: I’ve noticed that I can be very judgmental and sometimes condescending to my parents, when they’re just trying to do their best. And they’re doing the best that they can with the tools that they have. And I think that’s been one of my biggest failures, is being kind of that condescending person to my parents sometimes. And more recently I’ve been realizing that it makes me feel better, ti makes the relationship better, and it makes them feel better when I practice more love and tolerance and kindness with them. So that has been a failure that’s led to a success, of me looking at my own actions and saying, okay, I need to change my actions. It’s not my parent’s actions that are annoying me, it’s how I’m being in my life. So I can change myself, I can’t change somebody else.

Gina: Right, that’s a really great, introspective way to look at things.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: I do, admittedly, have to say I don’t think you’re alone in having that same kind of a parent failure.

Jason: Okay, yes.

Gina: A lot of people feel that way.

Jason: Right.

Gina: Until I guess we all grow up and realize, when we have our own kids, “Oh, now I get it.”

Jason: Right, yeah.

Gina: Now I understand.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: Playing off the idea of the word harmony, if I were to throw out the word harmony, what does that mean to you?

Jason: The word harmony, to me, means that many different pieces and aspects of life are operating with ease and grace, together, and all flowing together rather than flowing in different directions. It’s everything having a common purpose and everyone … Kind of all ships sailing in the same direction.

Gina: Yeah, I like that.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: I like that a lot. That’s really great.

Jason: I love the word, and i love that you guys named your program Harmony.

Gina: Yep, we feel it.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: I mean, we definitely feel it here on campus and so … Well, if someone were wanting to access services at Denver Recovery Center and wanted to reach out to you after listening today, how could they get in touch with you?

Jason: You can reach Denver Recovery Center by phone at 888-853-5585. You can also go to our website, which is And there’s a lot of information there, a lot of great information about our program but also addition in general. We are a program that we know what we’re good at and we also know when to refer people to other programs. So you can use us as a resource to get a general idea of whether you may need our services or you may need services at another program. And we’re happy to be that type of resource, where we can say, “Yeah, you’d be a great fit for us,” or, “No, we actually feel like you’d be a better fit for this program that we’re familiar with and let’s get you in contact with them.”

Gina: Great.

Jason: So we’re happy to be of service. We love helping people and find it a really big honor to be a part of people’s recovery.

Gina: Wonderful.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: Well, we’re really glad to have you in Colorado. Thanks so much, welcome. And thanks for coming up to Harmony today.

Jason: Yeah, thank you, Gina. Appreciate it.

Upper Limit Problem: Smashing through our self-imposed glass ceiling by Khara Croswaite Brindle


Remember when we explored if we’d quit something before it could go wrong? How you’ve ended a relationship before you could get hurt? We identified these as examples of self-sabotage, which can strike at any moment when we feel that things are gaining momentum in a positive way.  But what happens when you achieve the success you’ve always wanted and now, instead of joy, you feel doubt and dread, fearing it is too good to last?  Because of this fear, perhaps you desire to remain safe in your career trajectory, creating your own glass ceiling because it pays the bills and supports stability.  You choose comfort rather than taking risks that would allow you to reach your fullest potential.  Gay Hendricks calls putting on the breaks when our success has exceeded what we thought it could as The Upper Limit Problem, described in detail in his book “The Big Leap.”

Signs you have an Upper Limit Problem

It’s understandable that we struggle with success in thinking it’s too good to be true. Awareness of our reactions to success and the resulting negative thoughts and unconscious self-sabotaging behaviors can be considered a first step in recognizing the problem and identifying viable solutions!  Here are some signs that you might be experiencing an Upper Limit Problem:

  • You avoid taking risks
  • You can’t slow down
  • You can’t enjoy your successes due to fear and doubt
  • You prevent change in wanting stability
  • You love your comfort zone
  • You feel uncomfortable with too many successes at once
  • You get stressed and sick when experiencing rapid growth

Smashing through your Upper Limit Problem

For many, illness in response to stressors or fear of success in a big part of their Upper Limit Problem. So now that you know what you are experiencing, what can you do about it? Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Identify positive affirmations such as “I’m right where I should be.” “I’ve worked hard for this success.” “I deserve good things.”
  • Engage your supports. Talk to others you trust about the stress you are feeling in the face of your achievements.
  • Practice mindfulness. Engage in mindfulness and meditation practices to reinforce positive vibes and refocus.
  • Slow down. Take breaks for self-care and rest up to prevent illness.

By recognizing the signs of your Upper Limit Problem and exploring possible responses, you can remove self-sabotaging behaviors and fully surrender to your success, allowing yourself to enjoy your accomplishments and continue to thrive in the possibilities of your future.

“The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.”
Gay Hendricks

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.
For More Information, Please visit:


Podcast Series: RecoverMe Counseling

Gina Thorne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series, and I’m pleased today to be joined with Melissa Barbash with RecoverMe Counseling, out of Denver.

Melissa Barbash: Yes. Thank you for having me.

Gina Thorne: So good to have you here today. We’re gonna learn a little bit about you and a little bit about your practice today. So some of our questions might seem a little unorthodox, so … But I think you’ll be able to handle them pretty well.

So my first question is … So I noticed that you’re a big animal lover. I saw on your website that you have a picture of your dog, and is it one cat or two cats?

Melissa Barbash: Two cats.

Gina Thorne: Two cats. Yep.

Melissa Barbash: Yes.

Gina Thorne: You highlight them on your website. They clearly are important to you. Why do your animals bring you so much joy?

Melissa Barbash: I think it’s very funny that you ask that, actually, because, initially, I put them there because I thought that you were supposed to put something there with your animals. That would help people kind of know a little bit more about you.

Gina Thorne: Yes. Uh-huh.

Melissa Barbash:But I was going back and forth. “Should I put them? Should I not put them?”

So they’re my cats that I brought into the relationship. So I’ve had them for 16 years.
So why do my cats bring me so much joy? So they’re like my children, and I don’t have children. So I love that they’re independent. So I love that about cats. I specifically got cats because they can do what they need to do, they love you when they need to love you, and they’re very curious and fun-natured. But they … I just love their independence.

That sounds bad, like that I got animals so that they’ll stay away from me. But I did not do that. That’s what I appreciate about animals, is that they have their own personalities, and they don’t necessarily need all the time, but they love all the time at the same time.

Gina Thorne: So, secretly, is that describing a little bit about your personality, do you think?

Melissa Barbash: Yes, I thought that might be …

Gina Thorne: Yes.

Melissa Barbash: … something that you might see.

Gina Thorne: I think there’s something to that. There are probably some people that are leaning more towards that, so …

Melissa Barbash:Yeah.

Gina Thorne: I totally get it …

Melissa Barbash:Yeah.

Gina Thorne: … ’cause I have one, too, and she’s opinionated and independent and … but comes to you only when she wants to come to you, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: So that’s interesting.

Melissa Barbash: It’s just like they need their own space. They need their own time. They’re individuals. They’re not the same. They’re two different cats.
The dog is wonderful. The dog was brought in by my partner. So I’ve never owned a dog. So that was a little different for me, because he’s completely attached.

Gina Thorne: Yes.

Melissa Barbash:So …

Gina Thorne: And very needy.

Melissa Barbash: And very needy, and very … His tongue is gigantic. He’s a Rottweiler.

Gina Thorne: Uh-huh.

Melissa Barbash:So he’s gigantic, too. So he has no boundaries. So I have to …

Gina Thorne: There’s so much that can be done in this conversation …

Melissa Barbash: Yes, right?

Gina Thorne: … around personalities.

Melissa Barbash: Yes.

Gina Thorne: That’s funny.

Melissa Barbash: Yes.

Gina Thorne: A lot of metaphors going on right now.

Melissa Barbash: I know. He has some boundaries …

Gina Thorne: Uh-huh.

Melissa Barbash: … but then he’s just always so lovely. He is … You can really count on them for that, and he’s also independent. I didn’t know that dogs slept as much as they do. I thought there was something wrong and he was depressed. But he’s not.

Gina Thorne:Yeah.

Melissa Barbash: He’s fine.

Gina Thorne: That’s good.

Melissa Barbash: So …

Gina Thorne: They get along, too, I’m sure?

Melissa Barbash:The cats … He’s afraid of the cats.

Gina Thorne: Oh, okay.

Melissa Barbash: So maybe that’s why I like the cats better, too. They put a little fear in the attached …

Gina Thorne: Yes.

Melissa Barbash: … the dog.

Gina Thorne: Yeah.

Melissa Barbash: But I guess I highlighted them because I want people to know a little bit about me. I don’t know if it’ll resonate, but I’m a person, and I’m a person that has just a regular life.

Gina Thorne: Which helps when working with clients.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: They don’t wanna think about people being, “Well, she’s got it all together.”

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: “She knows everything.” That makes a huge difference.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Well, that’s a great segue into talking about recoverme Counseling.

Melissa Barbash: Okay.

Gina Thorne: So it’s a private practice that focuses specifically on addressing addiction and codependency. So why did you decide to pursue this career in addiction treatment, and specifically around issues around codependency?

Melissa Barbash: So this is a vulnerable issue for me, ’cause I don’t usually talk about this too much. I talk about it a little bit in educational moments with people or in groups or in my practice. It’s not mostly about me, but I give a little bit of information to people.

But I actually think most people that got into this field have some sort of affiliation with addiction or somebody that’s been involved with addiction. But, for me, I was involved with a partner that was an alcoholic.
So that’s not why I got into counseling, though. But that’s why I did the specialization, because I could just see so much pain in people and so much help that was needed.
Then I started … I never wanted to be a person that focused on what I had needed out of that experience, which was the codependency and my own personal therapy. But, as it turns out, I really love working with that population, because they’re a forgotten population, I think.
When someone comes to treatment, the partners are encouraged to seek their own help. But they’re also used to doing everything on their own, so they don’t often take that help.
So I saw this population as people that really need someone to be there for them. So …

Gina Thorne: It’s so important, because I think you’re right, as far as the issue around codependency can often be a precursor to addiction continuing, in many cases.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: They have to be looked at.

Melissa Barbash:Yeah. Yeah, and it’s a lonely process. When your partner starts getting better after treatment, too, or starts in recovery, people don’t really know how to deal with that, the spouses that are watching their partner kind of continue in recovery, because it’s …

We think that that’s what we wanted, that our partner go to treatment and get better, but when that actually starts happening, it’s a rough change. So I think that I help people to be prepared for that change that’s coming and how they can change alongside that person, to help themselves and help their relationship, too.

Gina Thorne: That’s great. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?

Melissa Barbash: Let’s see. That’s a work in progress, all the time. I’ve become a lot better at saying no to always having to be the person who does everything. I think that’s …
A lot of people are saying that now, that women are do-it-all, and it’s a very kind of new niche, I guess, for people, and it’s transcended time. It’s kind of just true all the time. But I’ve become better at just knowing that I don’t have to be there all the time for everybody else.
What else have I said no to? I’ve said no to, specifically, even with my own partner, taking on what they need to do for themself. I’ve also become better at saying no to kind of a life that I thought that I should have, where it’s filled with all these things that I’m doing all the time and all these friends that I’m hanging out with all the time, and just really looking at who makes me feel whole and concentrating on those people.
I got out of the shoulds, like I should be helping everybody, or I want to be … I wanna look like this as a success, and I just started, I guess, maybe saying yes to myself instead of saying yes to everything else.

Gina Thorne:That’s great.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Thank you for that. That’s a great response.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne:I really like that.

Melissa Barbash: Thank you.

Gina Thorne: So playing up the idea of the word “harmony,” what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Melissa Barbash: So it’s really funny. I thought about harmony yesterday, and I think, maybe, the response most people think of is balance. So I think that’s probably where most people go. But I used to play the violin, and then I looked up the exact definition of harmony, and it said “simultaneously playing two notes.”
I think of it as kind of two personalities sharing as one, like it’s okay for you to be this way, and it’s okay for you to be this way. It’s just how do they coexist together? What do you say yes to? What do you say no to?
So I liked the idea of the two notes simultaneously, so it wasn’t … I do like the word “balance,” but I just, more so, liked the, “How do I live in conjunction with my different sides and be okay with that?”

Gina Thorne: Harmoniously.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah, exactly.

Gina Thorne: I like that.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: I’ve not heard that response before.

Melissa Barbash: Oh.

Gina Thorne:That’s great, and that’s great that you play the violin.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Secretly, I’ve wanted to learn how to play the fiddle.

Melissa Barbash: Oh.

Gina Thorne: I have.

Melissa Barbash:I love the fiddle.

Gina Thorne: But I just think I would sound so terrible that I would hate the fiddle. So I decided I wasn’t gonna do it.

Melissa Barbash: Well, I have a dream of sounding like the Dixie Chicks.

Gina Thorne: Oh, that would be great.

Melissa Barbash: But that’s not gonna happen.

Gina Thorne: Yes. That would be so great.
If someone wanted to access services at recoverme Counseling, how could they get in touch with you?

Melissa Barbash: So the best way is to email me, quite honestly, because if I’m in session and my phone goes off, I’ll miss the call. I have a great app, though, that sends a text message back to ask if it’s okay to call them back. So that actually works pretty well. So phone or email.

Gina Thorne: What’s the email address?

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Okay.

Melissa Barbash:It’s

Gina Thorne: Great.

Melissa Barbash: The phone number’s on my website, which is just, also.

Gina Thorne: That’s great.

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit …

Melissa Barbash: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: … with us here at Harmony, and we look forward to partnering with you more frequently.

Melissa Barbash: So do I. Thank you so much. I can’t say enough.

Podcast Series: Wild and Wonderful Life Counseling

Gina Thorne: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series and I’m pleased today to be joined with Aleya Littleton with Wild Wonderful Life out of Golden, Colorado. Welcome.

Aleya Littleton: Hi Gina. It’s nice to meet you.

Gina Thorne: I’m so glad that you came up to visit us here at Harmony. I mean we’re just really excited to share our program with you but, more importantly, we want to learn more about your resources and how you can be of service to not just Harmony clients but to those that are listening as well. Before we get into the specifics about your practice, let’s talk a little bit about you and what got you into the field of working in therapy and, particularly, adventure therapy.

Aleya Littleton: Well, that’s a great question. I actually invented adventure therapy, or at least I thought I did. I used to be a middle school science teacher and felt very overwhelmed in the classroom. I wasn’t really prepared to deal with all of the problems that these kids were bringing it in. And after taking a little bit of time off at that, I became involved in the climbing community. And as I was climbing, I found myself becoming more self-reliant, more confident, just that knowledge that I could take care of myself in spaces that we’re really not meant for humans. And then finding the support in the community. It changed my life. It helped me out of a very dark time, personally, and so I started thinking maybe I could use that to help others as well. And that’s when I started Googling. I was like, “Yeah, I could do this to help people,” and then it turns out there are actually master’s degree programs in adventure therapy. So I was a little bit bummed I wasn’t the originator but really glad to find that there was a supportive community already established for me.

Gina Thorne: Well, and it sounds like you were able to take the best of both worlds. A love of climbing and also giving back to the world and doing both of those together. I mean, it doesn’t feel like a job, Does it?

Aleya Littleton: It doesn’t. No, this is the most fun I’ve ever had.

Gina Thorne: That’s great. And you’ve come to the right place ’cause you’re not even from Colorado, right? So you came from Pennsylvania?

Aleya Littleton: Right. I’ve been here for seven years now. It’s just better.

Gina Thorne: Great climbing community here.

Aleya Littleton: Yes.

Gina Thorne: And I like your statement. It’s just better.

Aleya Littleton: Yeah. Colorado is just better.

Gina Thorne: Yeah, I have to agree with you about that. So you talked little bit about the adventure therapy piece of what you do but one of the things that I was intrigued by when I was doing some research about you is that you did a paper on rock climbing and treating PTSD in women. And so, tell me a little bit about that. What does that mean and what did you learn from that?

Aleya Littleton: Yeah. Well, the rock climbing and PTSD program, you know, again, it stemmed from my own personal experience and how much climbing helped. I think it’s important to maybe just take a step back and say that adventure therapy doesn’t have to be every extreme sport. Really, it’s the application of experience in therapy so a picture’s worth 1,000 words and experience is worth 1,000 pictures. So we make progress really quickly when you’re actually living out the things that you’re working on. And so, in that way, rock climbing becomes a metaphor for facing your fears, for empowerment, for reestablishing choice and control. For speaking up, just being able to say like, “Hey today’s not my day but I’m here.”

So in my research, what I really tried to do was pair trauma informed principles with adventure therapy principles. Taking rock climbing and making it something that is very friendly to people who are just beginning, all the way up to experts. And really working on techniques to manage anxiety in the body. To notice your perspective and how that affects your performance and what you’re able to do. Strategies for creating community. Yeah, I like working with the bio psycho social piece of like when you’re climbing, it’s very real. You need a partner. You need to make good decisions. So, in that way, it is so not hypothetical. It’s like we are here in the moment doing the absolute best that we can and we deal with things as they come. Yeah, I’ve been running that trauma informed women’s PTSD rock climbing program for the last three summers. This summer is going to start in July and have got a few spaces open still so if anybody’s listening–

Gina Thorne: How long is it?

Aleya Littleton: It’s eight weeks.

Gina Thorne: OK. OK.

Aleya Littleton: Yeah, it’s a closed group. We move through all together and it’s very skill-based because part of reclaiming your life after a traumatic event or years of trauma is like having confidence in yourself that you can keep yourself safe. You can make those good decisions. You can problem solve. So I end up teaching a lot of skills. We even get into some self rescue stuff.

Gina Thorne: And so, what does it look like then? So you do an exercise in a climbing technique and then after a period of time, you sit down and process it with them?

Aleya Littleton: Yeah. It’s a little bit of both. So we always start out with a mindfulness and group building exercise and then there’s climbing technique that is the theme. Before the group meets, I send out a quote as a thing to think about and kind of come and bring your own insights. That’s how we meet each other. So like what does this quote mean to you and how does that represent your life? And then we kind of view the entire session through that lens then. You know, be it a self rescue or like gear and anchors skill that they’re learning or particular climbing technique. They’re able to participate in it and then we kind of debrief as we go. And then, of course, there’s always a nice closing ceremony where we all say goodbye to each other and make plans to meet up again the next week.

Gina Thorne: Is it a cohort that continues to meet on a regular basis?

Aleya Littleton: Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina Thorne: That’s great. So it sounds like a really amazing opportunity that allows people to not feel as uncomfortable in being in just a traditional group setting, but actually using their bodies as a way to be responsive to the situations that come up for them around their trauma, which is, I think, a lot of people are very uncomfortable in their bodies with trauma.

Aleya Littleton: It’s amazing. Just the simple prompt when somebody’s climbing, I’ll make the suggestion, “Why don’t you stand like a confident person would stand.” Like, “How do you adjust use your body to be like a confident person?” And just to see that transformation from being very unsure and uncertain on the rock to shifting their body and noticing how that changes their mindset as well. And then they’re able to go farther and do more or have the self-confidence to be like, “I think I’m done. I would actually like to come down now.” They can make an authentic choice then.

Gina Thorne: That’s fantastic. Well, so we’ve learned a little bit about your scope as far as what you do and I’m sure there’s probably so much more we could be discussing and we’re going to actually direct people to your website later so that if they want to learn more about the specific services, they can. But we always like to talk a little bit with individuals about who they are because it’s not just about the services, it’s about the person behind them. So I’m going to throw out a couple of questions to you, just to see what your thoughts are. So what book or books have you read or given as a gift why?

Aleya Littleton: Oh, goodness. I was thinking about this question since you gave it to me ahead of time. And I was a little reluctant to share my true answer because it is so nerdy.

Gina Thorne: That’s the best kind.

Aleya Littleton: This is where it totally comes out. So, my top three books. The first one is The Mindful Therapist by Dan Siegel. Actually, anything by him. He’s written a lot having to do with interpersonal neurobiology, which again, I think is very relevant to creating therapeutic experiences–

Gina Thorne: Is he the same one that’s done Positive Psychology, as well?

Aleya Littleton: I think he’s done a little bit with that as well. His interpersonal neurobiology, I think, is a term that he helped coin. So his books, The Whole Brain Child is amazing for parenting. Interpersonal Neurobiology and then The Mindful Therapist. And then for the more soulful side, I love The Four Agreements. That is absolutely one of my favorites and one that I give as a gift most often.

Gina Thorne: Yeah, and that actually … we use The Four Agreements pretty regularly at Harmony with our spiritual team.

Aleya Littleton: They are wonderful. And so tough.

Gina Thorne: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it’s non-threatening in many ways too because you’re not looking at just the religious nature of what you might’ve grown up with but really looking at a global scope of how to live your life spiritually, which is beautiful. Well I think those are great and not nerdy at all. So, that’s fantastic. If we were to play off the idea of harmony or the word harmony, what would you say if I asked you what it means to live a life in harmony?

Aleya Littleton: Well, my first inclination is to think about peace and happiness and, really, my own perspective has been shifting lately around the word happy in general. Shifting it to content. ‘Cause like the fastest way to become unhappy is to have somebody ask you if you are happy and then you start thinking about all the things that you’re missing. So, for me, harmony is really finding a place of just being content with what you have, with balance and gratitude. And, again, getting into a little bit more of the nerdy stuff. Like gratitude is such a powerful emotion to cultivate. It releases oxytocin in your system and that’s the feel-good generous hormone that we all need. But then also–

Gina Thorne: It puts new groves in the brain.

Aleya Littleton: It does. And your neuro pathways. Yeah. And then one of my favorite approaches to therapy is dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT. And that really focuses on that mindful finding of the middle path. So having harmony and contentedness between all aspects of your life through mindfulness and acceptance in that middle way.

Gina Thorne: Yeah, and just being present. Being present, wholly present. That’s wonderful. Well, thank you. That’s great, Aleya. So, if someone were listening today and they wanted to access services at Wonderful Life Services, how could they get in touch with you?

Aleya Littleton: Well, my web address, it’s got a ton of W’s so you kind of have to listen closely. It’s the three standard W’s at the beginning and then You can also just type in wild and wonderful life counseling all together and it’ll get you there. And my phone number is 708-740-0136. I suggest going to my website or leaving a voicemail and I’m pretty quick to get back, if not I’m not completely out of service, on top of the mountain somewhere.

Gina Thorne: Right, if you’re not climbing somewhere.

Aleya Littleton: Yes.

Gina Thorne: That’s great. Well thank you so much for taking the time, Aleya, it was a privilege to meet you and we look forward to working with you.

Aleya Littleton: Yeah, thank you so much, Gina.

Imposter Syndrome: Sabotaging Success by Khara Croswaite Brindle

Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever quit something before it could go wrong? Ended a relationship before you could get hurt? Stirred things up out of boredom? These are all examples of self-sabotage, which can manifest when we don’t feel we deserve good things or when we fatalistically think all good things must come to an end. With Imposter Syndrome, you may experience all of these thoughts and feelings in response to having an internal battle with yourself and have a fear of success! More specifically, when achieving success, your doubt in yourself may show up as a fear of being exposed as a fraud to others.Imposter Syndrome

Image courtesy of

The image above captures the perception that others know more than us, which can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors or crippling self-doubt, resulting in delayed or stunted progress towards your goals and creating unnecessary anxiety in various areas of our lives. So, what can we do about it? How do we embrace our knowledge base, success, and self-worth?

Discovering Strengths

For many of us, it’s a fine balance between self-confidence and ego.  Our society has taught the youngest generations to not speak too highly of themselves out of concern of being called cocky, egotistical, entitled, or self-centered. When celebrating strengths, it is important to break down some of these barriers and embrace what we do well.  Some ways you can do this include:

  1. Asking Family and Friends: By engaging in rewarding conversations with those that know you well, you can listen for language that describes your strengths.
  2. Floating Back: Recalling compliments or positive feedback from others in the past, including work situations, can help pinpoint times when you were recognized for your strengths.
  3. Take a Test: The popularity of personality tests and other self-assessments continue in helping people find their strengths. Consider the following tests in your self-exploration:

o   Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – looks at how you interact with others, thinking vs. feeling, and more.

o   Enneagram – Explores how you relate to others and what you contribute to relationships when balanced or unbalanced. Check out the free EnneaApp quiz in the App store!

o   Big Five Factor Personality Test – explores your openness, agreeableness, neuroticism and more.

o   Locus of Control – take the self-assessment to explore how you are internally or externally motivated to do things in your life.

o   Values Inventory – explore what is most important to you with a values inventory. A free, online version can be found at

Encouraging Growth

Now that you’ve found your language and skills that demonstrate your strengths, it will be important to continue learning about yourself to silence the Imposter Syndrome’s little, nagging voice that states you are a fraud. Perhaps you challenge yourself to grow through additional schooling or training. Or measure your progress through achievement of short-term goals. Or perhaps you identify a professional who can serve as an accountability partner in your quest for confidence. Such professionals include:

  • Coaches
  • Consultants
  • Therapists

Celebrating Successes

By engaging a trusted professional or other support person who know you well, you can also feel encouraged to slow down and celebrate the little successes in life. Maybe you had a goal to feel more comfortable talking about what you do with others and you celebrate attending a network event where you had to describe it to multiple people in a matter of minutes. Perhaps you have a goal of conquering your fear of public speaking and find yourself in front of a community audience talking about a project you are involved in. Whatever the achievement, slowing down to celebrate it with those you love can reduce the experience of Imposter Syndrome, making is less of a barrier and instead, serving as fuel for your fire of drive and purpose!

Think about all the crazy ways you feel different from everyone else. And now take the judgment out of that. And what you are left with is such a wholly dynamic, inspiring character who could lead an epic story.”

Jennifer Lee

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.
For More Information, Please visit:

Podcast Series: Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III

Gina Thorne: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series. It’s my pleasure to be joined with Lana Isaacson with, I guess, Lana Isaacson Private Practice?

Lana Isaacson: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: That’s it?

Lana Isaacson: That’s right.

Gina Thorne: Alright. Do you want to get a name someday that we can like shout out to the world or something? I don’t know. I love it though. That’s good.

Lana Isaacson: Thank you.

Gina Thorne: That’s good. So we’re-

Lana Isaacson: It allows me to change and evolve.

Gina Thorne: That’s right. Well that’s true. You don’t want to be locked into one thing.

Lana Isaacson: Right.

Gina Thorne: So we’re really excited to have you here at Harmony and for you to have spent the day with us was really terrific. I’ve learned a lot about you, as a matter of fact. I didn’t know that you were into dancing and knowing how to, and using a lot of your dance to work with clients and families, which is fantastic.

Lana Isaacson: Thanks.

Gina Thorne: And so hopefully we’ll be able to talk a little bit about that today.

Lana Isaacson: Sure.

Gina Thorne: I was really interested when I was looking at your website because you talk a lot about family. It seems very important to you. Both personally and professionally, having that healthy family is really vital. Why is that so important to you?

Lana Isaacson: So I think, professionally, having worked in the addiction field and I got into the addiction field because, there are many reasons, but one was I wanted to be inspired on a daily basis and I am with my clients. I don’t think there is a client who is more inspiring than someone who is in recovery, and the transformation is so incredible. It’s so huge, and I just love being a part of someone’s journey, and transforming, and finding a piece of themselves that they haven’t yet discovered or that they want to discover or rediscover.
And I also felt that in a lot of my work with clients at treatment centers, that there was this individual focus. And even in my private practice, I began doing more individual work and I loved how I felt that that work was really sacred. And to give people this really safe space to … It’s not so much … It’s connecting with me, but it’s more connecting with themself when they come into my office.
And at the same time, I feel like throughout the years it’s been really clear to me how everyone’s relationships influenced them so much. So if I had a client coming in with the presenting issue of depression or anxiety or addiction, I often found that they also were struggling with their relationships. Maybe not getting their needs met or maybe they didn’t know how to be in a relationship and so they were living alone. They were single or they’re in a family that they felt that they didn’t have a voice in.
And I just find that the change happens at such an even faster rate and a more in depth level when I work with the whole family system or I work with a couple. Instead of that client turning to their substance or whatever unhealthy coping skill they have, to help them turn toward their partner or their family member and let them know, I need to be held, or it would mean so much to me if you would say, “I believe in you.” And really helping people regain the connection that they had when they were born and they were loved and helping them get that back.
The connection that oftentimes clients find who are in recovery at their 12 step or other meetings with their sponsor, their peers, I want them to have that when they go home at the end of the day. And it’s so powerful for them to receive it and give it and also for them to pass it down to their children.

Gina Thorne: Yeah. So much of what you’re talking about is just the importance of how recovery is built around connection. And so many times I think we have people who come here and they think, I know families that I’ve spoken with that will drop their loved one off and they’ll say, “Just fix them. It’s not about me. It’s not about my family. It’s just about the individual.”
And so we’ve learned over time, I think, as a field that ,as everybody knows, it’s a family disease. And so it sounds like so much of what you’re talking about is really trying to cultivate that connection so that people can really do well in recovery, which is great. So much of your practice seems like it’s built around that. So you do individual work, but you do a lot of family and couples work as well.

Lana Isaacson: Much more. Yeah, and I appreciate you saying addiction is a family disease. I really like to keep focusing in on the concept of that also recovery is something that can be passed down to our children instead of focusing on this disease and feeling that feels sometimes … It’s so true and it’s important for family members to hear and feel validated that it does affect everyone, but also to know recovery can affect everyone if everyone chooses to step in and be a part of their taking charge of their recovery. And I also think healthy relationships can be passed down as well.

Gina Thorne: I never thought about it from that perspective, but you’re right. And you always think about the negative aspects of unhealthy behavior, but breaking that intergenerational cycle really does involve creating those healthy habits and those healthy behaviors. So that’s a great perspective. That’s a great perspective.

Lana Isaacson: Thanks.

Gina Thorne: So, we talked for a few minutes about just ideas of families and one of those areas that really kind of resonated with me when I was reading your website was this idea about mothers in transition and how … As a mom, a working mom, who made a conscious choice to go back to work after my son was six months old, I really struggled with this sense of choosing my career over my child and it really was almost traumatic for me in some ways, which talking to friends and colleagues about it, I realized that a lot of them also have talked about how they’ve had this sort of this imbalance as a woman where you might’ve had an established career, and you were doing great, and then you want to have this family. Then you have this family and then you feel like, do I have to say goodbye to all this stuff that I created before?
And so the fact that you are someone who works with mothers in that capacity or even mothers who are choosing to move in a different direction as they can compliment their children and their new life as a mom is really interesting. So I’m interested to hear more about, what do you do with these women when they come to you and they want to talk with you about some of the issues that I kind of struggled with when I first started?

Lana Isaacson: I appreciate you being so courageous and open with your struggle. I think of one technique I use with moms and myself as well. And that’s, whatever the topic is that they’re trying to decide, maybe they’re a new mom and they’re trying to figure out, do they want to go back to work or do they want to stay at home and be, I call it, work at home? It’s tremendous work as a stay at home mom.

Gina Thorne: That’s big.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah, and deciding what to do, I’ll have them connect with … At first, they usually connect with their brain, and that’s their story, and that’s also society’s expectations, and families’ expectations, and it could be their spouse too, but usually it’s society. I let them connect with their brain for a little while and then I’ll have them connect with their heart and ask them, “What really brings you joy? What do you really love? What does your heart most want? What does your heart most need?”
Then I’ll have them connect with their intuition, which I call your source of wisdom. And I’ll want to, I might lead them through a meditation or some breathing techniques so they can try to go deeper. As deep as our heart is, I think also sometimes we might find the answer if we can quiet our mind and just breathe. Then I’ll ask them to sometimes do a sand tray or a drawing or just talk about those three parts, and what were the messages that you got from your brain, your heart, your gut? And what are you feeling most called to and to do?

Gina Thorne: Because it’s in there.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: We all know, right?

Lana Isaacson: The answer is, and I think also it’s letting go, as hard as it is, but letting go of other people’s expectations and-

Gina Thorne: Cultural society’s expectations and what they want us to do.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah, just really trying to … And also, giving yourself a chance to try out different things. I think sometimes moms feel like we have to make this choice and, frankly, fathers don’t always have to make it, but we feel like we do. It feels so scary and so permanent, but it doesn’t always have to be that permanent. It can be just try. Go back to work, see how that goes for you. How does that feel for you?
Do you feel like that’s fulfilling enough and that you’re spending enough quality time with your child? And for some moms, they’ll say that they feel like they’re more present and that the time they spend with their child is better quality when they are working.

Gina Thorne: That was me.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: I felt like I was a better mom because of that. And it wasn’t an excuse, it was just one of those things where I knew. As he’s grown up, he’s watched me recognize that that’s a part of who I am and has come to honor that and respect that.

Lana Isaacson: That’s wonderful.

Gina Thorne: But I understand what you’re saying. So that’s great, and I’m just so happy that you take the time to do that for women because I think a lot of women really struggle in isolation around this issue and think that it’s just part of life. Having someone that they can go to and talk to about it and kind of learn intuitively that you already know what your message is. You just have to kind of align with it.

Lana Isaacson: Also, one more thing that does help some moms is when I share or have them think about different moms that are women who inspire them. They may be working moms, they maybe stay at home moms. For them, that can kind of help with a reality check when they realize, oh yeah, that mom who has three middle school or high school kids who adore her, she went back to work after staying home with them for six weeks or three months, and they’re so bonded with her. Or that stay at home mom who maybe was a career person before and decided to stay at home, she loves being that person for her kids in a different way. And so yeah, I think just really looking at other women as mentors and finding women who really support you in your choices, that’s really important.

Gina Thorne: I think that’s great.

Lana Isaacson: Thanks.

Gina Thorne: Thank you. So we’ve gotten a little bit of a taste of your clinical side, but we want to learn a little bit about you as the person. So I’m going to ask you a couple of questions that kind of gets to know you a little bit better.

Lana Isaacson: Okay.

Gina Thorne: So what do you think is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love? I know you’re like, why would you ask me that question?

Lana Isaacson: I guess there are two things. I don’t know if they’re really that absurd, but I took a self defense class this past fall, and we got to scream “no” at the top of our lungs about 1200 times.

Gina Thorne: Wow.

Lana Isaacson: And I loved it, and fighting.

Gina Thorne: Why?

Lana Isaacson: Why? Oh, it was just so empowering. I think I wasn’t taught, I wasn’t taught to say no growing up. I was taught to say yes and please and be a good kid. And yet, I think that being a good kid is also being able to set healthy boundaries, and we need to teach our children that and model it. The other part of that class was being able to kick the crap out of these men who were in padded suits and how fun and empowering that was. It was scary as heck too and really intense, but it was so empowering. So I am signed up to take the advanced class where you get to fight with a blindfold on and do some other crazy things.

Gina Thorne: Wow.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah, and who knows?

Gina Thorne: So it this just like street fighting or was it actually like-

Lana Isaacson: Self defense.

Gina Thorne: Okay.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah. It’s an organization called Impact Personal Safety of Colorado, and they have all different classes. They even have like a family empowerment class and separate men’s and women’s in a mixed gender group and advanced. So it’s just, I guess you could call it street fighting. It’s wherever you are, just how you can protect yourself.

Gina Thorne: I think everybody needs to know that. I think that’s great. Thank you. Impact?

Lana Isaacson: Impact Personal Safety of Colorado.

Gina Thorne: Terrific.

Lana Isaacson: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: So my next question is if you, sort of playing off the word of harmony, what does it mean to you when I ask you to live a life in harmony?

Lana Isaacson: That’s so interesting. I’m thinking about how like it juxtaposes my answer I just shared, kicking the crap out of someone screaming “no” at the top of my lungs. And although I wouldn’t put that in the category of harmony, I think of balance when I think of harmony. I feel like I’m most at peace when I am living out a more balanced life, and I think that is tapping into both my dark and my light side and all parts of me that are important.
But also, I would say harmony requires me to prioritize and let go of things that are not always easy to let go of, that in the past they would have been an important part of my life. But I’ve made choices, being a working mom. I have a six year old and deciding to let go of some other things so I can just have more quality time and really quality time. My husband and I call it couch time, but every night that we have the energy to sit together and talk about our day, hold each other, or look into each other’s eyes, but that’s really quality time, or just time with my son. He’s still going through this very creative, imaginative stage as a Kindergartner. And so being with him instead of feeling like we need to rush to the next activity or the next outing. Those are some things I think about.

Gina Thorne: That’s great. Love it. I love that answer.

Lana Isaacson: Thanks.

Gina Thorne: That’s fantastic. So I guess if someone wanted to access services through you, how could they get in touch with you?

Lana Isaacson: They can call, text, email, yeah, or schedule. I have an online schedule soon. Online scheduler. It’s through Acuity. My phone number is 720-432-5262. Feel free to call me anytime or text me, or you can email me at I’ll spell that. It’s L-A-N-A Isaacson is I-S as in Sam, A-A-C-S-O-N I have a contact form on my website, which is, or you can go on my website and schedule an appointment.

Gina Thorne: That sounds great. Well thank you so much, Lana, for taking time to visit with us at Harmony. It was a pleasure.

Lana Isaacson: Thank you, Gina.

Podcast Series: Recovery Ways

Gina: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast series. I’m pleased today to be joined with Ryan Sturdevant with Recovery Ways out of Murray, Utah. Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan:Thanks, Gina.

Gina: Really glad to have you here today.

Ryan: I’m excited to be at Harmony and check out the facility. And yeah, beautiful setting up here.

Gina: Well, we think so too. It’s a little windy today. But I’m really glad that it didn’t snow because you never know what’s going to happen here in the mountains. So, we’re going to talk a little bit today about Recovery Ways. But before we do that, we want to get to know you a little bit better. So, let’s talk a little bit about your background and what got you into the field of working in addiction treatment.

Ryan: Sure. Like many people that I feel end up working in this field, my history started with my own struggle with addiction. I had such a profound experience back in 2009 going to treatment and the clinician that was my primary therapist, had such a profound effect on me and where I was at in my stage of life. I just had been searching all this time leading up to that, I had been searching for something in life that gave me purpose.
So, when I went to treatment and had this experience, I was just like, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is what I want to do. I want to help people, I want to counsel people and fast forward nine years, and now I can say that I’m a clinician, I’ve worked in the field nine years and have done a bunch of different aspects of the field.
But the most exciting thing that I get to do today is I get to help other people find the experience that they’re looking for. And hopefully, the transformation of actually getting their life back or starting a whole new life for themselves.

Gina: It’s true. The work that we do in our field, especially working on the front side of treatment is ushering people in and helping them find the right resources.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Gina: So, it’s very rewarding. I don’t know if I could do the treatment side of things, but I certainly can do the business development and marketing side of things.

Ryan: Yes. I’ve done the treatment side of things for a long time. And it’s nice to have some balance in between that, and you’re just switching gears. You’re not necessarily in the trenches anymore, but you’re out there on the front lines. So, either way you do it, you’re still having a profound effect on somebody’s life.

Gina: I completely agree. So, let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about Recovery Ways. Recovery Ways is inpatient. It’s in Murray, Utah, you might want to tell us a little bit where in relationship to, is there a big landmark in Utah that people would know where Murray is? I have a feeling that Murray is not a very big town.

Ryan: No. Murray is just one of the little towns right outside of Salt Lake. I can’t think of the different parts. It’s like the simplest word. Anyway, it’s 10 minutes outside of Salt Lake.

Gina: Perfect, okay.

Ryan: I could just said that from the beginning.

Gina: That’s okay. That’s all right.

Ryan: But I’m like, what are the small towns that make up Denver?

Gina: The suburbs.

Ryan: Suburbs. Oh my gosh, I could get that word.

Gina: That’s okay.

Ryan: Murray, Utah’s a suburb of Salt Lake City. So, we’re about 10 minutes from downtown Salt Lake and a 15 minute drive from the Salt Lake International Airport. Super easy to get to, easy access to all the wonderful things that make up Utah and salt lake. We do a lot of rec therapy with our program. So, access to the mountains is 15, 20 minutes away.
Clients are flying in, they choose to come to Recovery Ways, and it’s the best fit for their clinical needs. That’s a 15 minute drive from the airport. Just so much access. Utah is like a miniature Denver, where we still have all the great access to all the great outdoors. We just have about, 4 million people less, which we’re okay with.

Gina: So, you don’t have the many traffic issues that we have.

Ryan: Yes, we’re okay with that. People in Utah think traffic is ridiculous. They obviously haven’t been outside of Utah any time soon.

Gina: No. Well, so Recovery Ways, I talked about it being inpatient, but it’s really not just in patient.

Ryan: No.

Gina: So, what is it?

Ryan:We have all levels of care. So we have detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization or day treatment, and then a standalone IOP. So, we have the full level of care. We’re licensed for both mental health and substance abuse. We can treat co-occurring disorders as well. The unique things of Recovery Ways and how we stand out in Utah and in our region especially, is just the level of psychiatric care that we offer.
We have two board certified addiction psychiatrists on staff. We have an addictionologist MD on staff, 24 hour nursing. And then we also have some APRNs. All of our clinicians that are working as primary therapists are masters level clinicians. Yeah. We try to stay at the forefront of what people are doing and what’s cutting edge in the industry. We try to incorporate as many different aspects and really throw as many different opportunities at someone that is trying to get sober and trying to get their life back on track.
We want to give them as many opportunities to experience all the different tools that they can use, whether that be outdoors, rec therapy, the sensory integration rooms, occupational therapy, the different aspects of treatment or the community treatment that we incorporate. Whether that be 12 steps, rational recovery, smart recovery or refuge recovery. We try to give them a lot of the different options.
And then we have an amazing kind of alumni program that we follow that up with. So, really, we offer our clients a lot. Now, what I always tell people though, is we are not unique in the sense that people need to find what really works for them, and what they feel comfortable with. So, we’re not the best fit for everyone. We have our limitations. I think we do treat them very well. But we aren’t the end all be all. That’s why we are working on creating great relationships with people like Harmony Foundation, because people need options and people need to find their fit, and what’s going to be a good match for them.

Gina: No, I think you’re spot on as far as recognizing that treatment is not one size fits all, and you all are making a very concerted effort to be responsive to individual needs. One of the things that I thought that stood out, you mentioned this plethora of resources you also offer occupational therapy. Well, one of the things that stands out is the sensory integration therapy that you all do. Can you talk a little bit more about this approach?

Ryan: Yes, I’d be happy to. So, Dr. Stormy actually would give me a look if she heard me calling it sensory integration, because she wants me to call it sensory modulation. But sensory integration kind of rolls off the tongue as well. Anyway, yes. We actually employ five full-time occupational therapists in our sensory integration room.
Now, it’s so hard to describe our sensory integration room. It’s this room that has lighting, sound, smell, touch. It encapsulates all the different senses and then plus three other ones that never get talked about. Really, we utilize these rooms for a couple different reasons. One is Dr. Stormy develops … So, sensory integration and sensory modulation rooms have been used for the last 40 or 50 years. But nobody had been using them when it comes to addiction treatment.
So, about seven years ago, Dr. Stormy went to her mother that used to be our old executive clinical director at Recovery Ways and said, “I think you guys are missing the boat here.” What she did was she developed this room, these beautiful rooms that really work on a patient’s emotional regulation and self-regulation piece. Because a lot of times what we see in therapy or in residential treatment or any level of care is the focus on the cognitive behavioral therapy, the talk therapy. Processing through things and things like that.
Well, the reality is a lot of patients that are coming to us for treatment, their cognitive abilities might be not up to snuff or they might have done some damage to their cognitive abilities and the processing piece due to their alcohol, drug use and maybe mental health diagnosis have played a part in that. So, people forget to focus on what’s happening in the body.
We have the primary therapists that is going to do the cognitive behavioral therapy. But what we do in these rooms is we really work on what’s going on from the neck down. So, that means … Because anybody will tell you that when they’re feeling depressed, and they’re feeling anxious, there’s just telling you that they’re feeling that way because it’s not necessarily in the head, but they’re feeling that somewhere in their body.
So, we’ve developed these rooms to look at a few different things. We actually track data from agitation, depression, anxiety, pain scale, and we monitor that and we’ve been collecting data on that for the last seven years. Since collecting that data, we’ve seen a 60% decrease in these symptoms from the start of treatment using these rooms.
Now, I haven’t really got into what these rooms do. So, our focus on this is the emotional regulation piece. What you have there is … The example I always tell people is, when you get out of treatment, you’re on cloud nine, right? You’re feeling good, you’re ready to tackle the world. And then, for example, you walk out to your car and you get a parking ticket. Right there, your emotions go from zero to 60 in 2.0 seconds, whatever.
From that, there’s this emotional regulation piece that comes in. So, if you don’t have some skills and tools to figure like, emotionally regulate yourself, your first go to is, “Oh, I know how I used to fix this.” Your mind immediately goes to, I know what I used to do to care of this quickly. So, they want to turn to the drugs and alcohol, whatever.
What we really focus on in these rooms are giving them some skills and tools to regulate that emotional piece. We do that through guided imagery. We do that through bringing in all these different aspects and creating a treatment plan, and creating a safe space around the tools that they can take with them. Whether that be a smell of lavender or something like that, that helps them take them back to a place. It’s all about creating new neural pathways to healthy coping skills.
So, we do that. Then we do a myriad of other different things in the rooms where it can be something like putting together a budget because they’re working with our occupational therapist, or job resumes. Just a ton of different things we utilize in that room. Then, there was one other thing that I was going to talk about. Oh, and then the other piece is, all of our staff are trained in mind, body bridging. Which, we have a philosophy kind of at … Not kind of. We have a philosophy at Recovery Ways that we don’t feel like opening up a can of worms when it comes to trauma is appropriate in a residential level of care.
So, we don’t do any MDR in a residential level of care. We may look at it, may look at it in the PHP level of care, and depending on what their living situation is, how long they’re going to be with us and things like that, we might start MDR in IOP. But that’s if they are completely stable, they have a stable living environment, all those different things, all those boxes have to be checked off.
In turn, what we do is we also use the sensory room for trauma based therapy, but more working with the body. That’s why all of our clinicians are trained in mind, body bridging. So, a form to work with the trauma without opening up the trauma that early on.

Gina: It’s wonderful. No, I mean, just hearing the nature of what you all are doing has a very strong, holistic approach to it because you’re not looking at just addressing the behaviors itself, you’re looking at figuring out how to create the life skills necessary for them to, like you said, self-regulate.


Gina: I don’t know any other program that offers a resource like that at this point. There probably are a lot of them, but you guys are the only ones that I’m aware of that have actually created an actual safe space for people to have that kind of experience. And like you said, create new patterns of behavior to be responsive to issues of anxiety, or depression or fear or whatever else might come up.
This program is open to all of your clients. So, all your clients that go through Recovery Ways have access to this?

Ryan: Yes, I would say…The last time, I used to tell people, 95% of our clientele went through the sensory integration. But I heard one of our OTs say about a week ago that it’s like 99% of our clients go through occupational therapy. They could, depending on severity, they could have anywhere from one to three sessions a week in those rooms. These are on top of their individual therapy they’re getting. It just all completely depends on what their treatment plan looks like. And all these sensory integration sessions are individualized, or individual and they’re 60 minute sessions.

Gina: Wonderful. That’s great.

Ryan: Just another.

Gina: It was part of their treatment plan.

Ryan: Yes, absolutely.

Gina: Wonderful. Well, obviously, those people who are listening are going to get a lot of great information from you today about Recovery Ways, which is exciting. I’m going to shift back to learning a little bit about you, Ryan Because obviously, organizations are built on good people. So, it’s important to know who the people are.
So, I’m going to ask you a couple questions just to get into learning a little bit more about who you are. If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions of people, what would you want it to say?

Ryan: Oh, gosh. What would I wanted to say? I would want it to say, Do You! With an exclamation point. Because I think as a society, we tend to get wrapped up so much in what everybody else is constantly doing. My billboard would just say, Do You! Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing. As long as you go out, you give it your best. And you put your best foot forward every day, and you do it with honesty and integrity. What everybody else thinks doesn’t matter. So, Do You! is what I want on my billboard.

Gina: As it should be, that’s wonderful. I love it. Then playing off the idea of the word harmony. What does it mean to you when I say, to live your life in harmony?

Ryan: I have to tell you this. When I saw this question, the first thing that popped into my head was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, when she’s like, I don’t know if she’s cleaning the house or getting a dress put on, but the birds helped her and everything come in.

Gina: That was great at that moment. I remember that.

Ryan:: Yes. So, when I thought of harmony, I was like living in harmony with everything around you. But what it means to live my life in harmony is just being cohesive with everything around me, whether that be nature, whether that be other human beings. I’m not necessarily a religious person, but I believe in energy, and I believe in doing the right thing. Just being a good human. I think that means picking up the piece of trash that you see next to the garbage can, or that means opening up the door for somebody when they’re walking in.
It just means just being of service to people, and also being kind to everything. You can obviously tell I’m not a hunter in this. Anyway, that’s what living in harmony means to me. It’s just everything has a purpose from the smallest thing to the biggest thing.

Gina: Thank you for that. That’s really nicely said. If someone wanted to access services at Recovery Ways, how could they get in touch with you?

Ryan: Yeah. The best, probably way to access services is to check us out online They can also call our admissions number at 844-334-0804. So, reach out to us if you have any questions about Recovery Ways, you want to see if we might be a good fit for you, or if you just want to know more about our sensory integration, or all the different aspects we have at Recovery Ways.

Gina: Outstanding. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today.

Ryan: This is fun Gina. Thank you.

Gina: Yeah, have a good one.

Ryan: You too.

Podcast Series: The Refuge

Gina:         Hi, everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series. I’m pleased today to be joined with Jennifer Drapeaux, with The Refuge out of Ocala, Florida. Welcome, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Thank you, thank you for having me.
Gina:         It’s really good to have you here. We’re gonna get into learning more about The Refuge in a second, but before we do, let’s talk a little bit about you and what got you into the field of working in addiction treatment.
Jennifer: Sure. So I have been in behavioral health for about 12 years. I started when I was in college, and I was working at an acute in patient psychiatric facility, which is where I cut my teeth and found a love for working with behavioral health.
Jennifer: Over the years, I’ve stuck with it in different capacities. I worked in a group home for children and then I went to work for the government as a suicide prevention specialist on reservations. Lots of different kinds of experiences have brought me to The Refuge.
Gina:         That’s great. It’s so good to have you here and to hear more about the refuge, which is a very well-respected trauma program out of Florida that addresses both addiction and co-occurring disorders. Can you describe how The Refuge addresses the trauma in addiction? Because I’ve been in the field for 10 years, and I’m always so impressed when people come back from The Refuge and they talk about the work that they do there.
Jennifer: Sure. So The Refuge, the approach that we take is we work under the belief that everything is rooted in trauma, and that any addiction or substance use, process addiction, that’s all a symptom of the trauma. Being that we’re a longer term program, they really have found a way to give clients the time and space and resources necessary to start unraveling that trauma story. It’s almost like an onion, it takes a long time to peel back the layers. And so, by looking at the trauma, we can start to address, “Why are we using? Or why are we struggling with certain process addictions?” And in going back to the idea that it’s trauma based, it’s our way of coping and it’s our way of survival.
Gina:         And you guys are located where in Ocala?
Jennifer: It’s at Ocklawaha, actually.
Gina:         Ocklawaha. That’s right.
Jennifer: Ocklawaha, Florida.
Gina:         Okay.
Jennifer: It’s a very small town, about an hour and a half north of Orlando. And 20 minutes away from Ocala, Florida. And we are in the middle of the forest, the Ocklawaha National Forest.
Gina:         How many acres do you all have?
Jennifer: 100 acres.
Gina:         100 acres.
Jennifer: Yes.
Gina:         I’ve been there, and it’s really impressive.
Jennifer: It’s an old YMCA camp.
Gina:         Oh I didn’t know that.
Jennifer: Yeah.
Gina:         Oh, no kidding?
Jennifer: That’s how it started.
Gina:         Oh really?
Jennifer: Yeah.
Gina:         Okay, well it’s a beautiful campus. You guys, and I was around, took the big bus that they take around, it looks like the big-
Jennifer: The marsh mama.
Gina:         That’s it. So I drove all over with that, too, which was great. And you treat both men and women, correct?
Jennifer: Yes, ma’am.
Gina:         Okay. That’s great.
Gina:         So we’re gonna get to know you a little bit more on a different level.
Jennifer: Okay.
Gina:         So let’s talk for a second about if you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions, what would it say? And why?
Jennifer: This is hard. Even being prepped for this, this one is really hard. I think one of my favorites quotes is, I see it a lot but, “Be kind because everyone is facing some sort of battle we know nothing about.” I think that that is so true, I know there’s been plenty of times in my life where I’ve been dealing with stuff and you don’t always present that to the outside world. And when I’m sitting and talking, I have no idea what’s going on for that person, so just treating people with respect and kindness and showing compassion, that’s [inaudible 00:03:25]. Very cliché, but-
Gina:         No.
Jennifer: [inaudible 00:03:28] retweet it.
Gina:         But not said enough, and certainly not done enough, so I like that very much.
Gina:        And then again, playing off the idea of the word “Harmony”, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?
Jennifer: I think to live a life in Harmony, it’s really about being at peace with yourself, where you’re at. Giving yourself a lot of grace. We’re our own worst critics. We bring a lot of our, I know I am. So when I feel most peaceful is when I’m forgiving myself. I know you make mistakes and you carry on and you’re doing the best you can.
Gina:        Well, and I will say this, that getting to know you and hearing what you have to say obviously speaks to the quality of The Refuge, and the kind of talent that they hire, so thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today.
Gina:          If folks wanted to access services at The Refuge, how could they get in touch with you?
Jennifer: There’s a couple ways. If they are more comfortable calling into admissions directly, they can go to our website, the number is posted. There’s also an internet chat, sometimes that is a little more, less intimidating to people. I encourage people to just give me a call there. If you have any questions, I’d love to talk to you about it, and I really believe in getting people the right help, so if we’re not a good fit for whatever reason or what not, I would love to help connect you with other resources.
Gina:         Wonderful. Thank you so much. And what’s the best, is there a website?
Jennifer: Yep. The website for The Refuge is
Gina:         Okay, and what about a telephone number? Is there a dedicated number that they can call?
Jennifer: They can get my number call, it is 605-290-5356.
Gina:         Wonderful. Well thanks so much, Jennifer, it’s good to have you here.
Jennifer: Thank you.

Equinox Counseling & Wellness Center

Gina Thorne:   Hi everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation video podcast series. I’m pleased today to be joined with Jordan Leffel with Equinox Counseling. It’s good to have you here today.

Jordan Leffel:  Thank you for having me.

Gina Thorne:   I’m looking forward to talking with you a little bit about Equinox Counseling and Wellness. But before we do that, let’s learn a little bit more about your background and how you got into the field.

Jordan Leffel:   Absolutely. My background is actually in advertising, consulting, as well as restaurant ownership and management. About eight years ago I moved to Denver, and was looking for a lifestyle change, change of pace, change of careers, and I found myself serendipitously working at Denver Health in a therapy capacity. I assisted physical therapists and occupational therapists primarily in the surgical ICU at Denver Health. I worked with a lot of spinal cord injuries, a lot of trauma, a lot of TBIs, helping mobilize patients after a severe trauma. I fell in love with it, and it inspired me to go back to school to get a degree in healthcare. I attended Metropolitan State University in Denver and discovered their integrative healthcare program. Their degree in integrative therapeutic practices, which is a Bachelor’s of Science, is what I finished my degree in. Upon graduation, I was looking for firms that we’re delivering healthcare in a progressive integrative type of model, and I came across Equinox. Fell in love with what they were doing, their kind of hybrid model of therapy, including wilderness, adventure and experiential components with more traditional didactic and processing pieces of therapy as well. So I bothered them enough to get an interview, and here I am as their outreach coordinator today.

Gina Thorne:   That’s great. Well, so I’m interested in hearing more about Equinox. Here’s what I pulled from your website. Be extraordinary, take risks, don’t be reckless. Make your life a masterpiece. These are motives and beliefs and values from the Equinox manifesto that’s on your site. Can you describe how this approach works with teens and families when they’re treating your clients?

Jordan Leffel:   Absolutely. I think those components of our program really speak to how we promote personal agency with our clients and their families, and really help them understand that life is not about the things that happened to you, it’s about what you do with those things, and the choices that you make. So really empowering people to make better decisions and take charge of their own lives, and providing them with the tools and the models and support to make those better choices, and to make mistakes and have a team of support around you to help overcome those obstacles. I think personal agency is a really important key piece of the healthcare that we’re delivering.

Gina Thorne:   You have an integrated model, so tell me a little bit more about what that means when you say that?

Jordan Leffel:   Yeah, absolutely. Our approach is more of a hybrid approach. Our founders have backgrounds in wilderness therapy programs, as well as residential therapy programs or residential treatment centers. They saw a lot of great work that was being done there and they wanted to create a center that was delivering similar work in an outpatient environment in order to keep a family system together. What we did was we drew some components of wilderness therapy, some components from residential treatment centers, and brought those all under one roof, and so we do wilderness intensives with our clients when it’s clinically indicated.

We also run a milieu in an outpatient setting, which is something unique that I haven’t seen at another treatment center. During that milieu time in an outpatient setting, we’re working on one of four activities, and that’s a very structured social environment for our clients, and they’re either working on homework or vocational work. They might be working on treatment work or assignments that they’ve gotten from their therapists. They might be doing some type of social activity with our therapeutic care specialists, that could look like scrabble, that could look like Frisbee, or they might be working on some type of health and wellness initiative.

Part of our milieu programming is really designed to help our clients answer the question, how do I take care of my whole self? We are participating in workouts together daily, we cook meals, we prepare meals together, and really help build those life skills while we’re also working in conjunction on some mental health components as well.

Gina Thorne:   A very unique model, I love it. Sounds great.

Jordan Leffel:   Thanks.

Gina Thorne:   Learning a little bit more about you specifically, in the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to, whether it’s distractions or invitations?

Jordan Leffel:   Personally, I think I’ve been able to say no to more social situations that I can already judge the outcome of, and I know that they are going to lead down a path of probably poor decisions that I’ve made in the past. So I have a much easier time since really gaining a broader perspective of health and wellness with the degree that I got. I think saying no to certain social situations that I used to think were fun, which are no longer fun, and they probably weren’t fun in the beginning anyway, so it was more fooling myself. I think I spend a lot more time with myself and doing personal development, than I do socializing anymore, and I’m okay saying no to that.

Gina Thorne:   That’s great. You’re always going to find new opportunities from doing that too.

Jordan Leffel:   Yes.

Gina Thorne:    That’s great.

Jordan Leffel:   Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:   Playing off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Jordan Leffel:   I think to live a life in harmony, it really means recognizing duality in life, in nature, in relationships, and recognizing that there’s good and bad. There’s light and there’s dark, and you can’t have all light without dark, you can’t have all good without some bad or there’s no frame of reference. I think living in harmony means to recognize that, and recognize that spectrum, that duality, and operate within it and make the choices that are going to keep you balanced instead of … Life isn’t black and white, and we have to look at situations on an individualized basis, and we have to make the best choices for ourselves, and I think living in harmony means making those best choices for ourselves, our environment, our relationships, and our whole sphere of influence, I think.

Gina Thorne:   That’s wonderful. Great answer. We’re really looking forward to connecting with Equinox Counseling and Wellness with our clients. If others who are listening today and watching today would want to get more involved, how could they get in touch with you?

Jordan Leffel:   The best place to check out is our website, that’s It is currently being retooled a little bit, but all the information about our programming is on there, and it describes what our assessment process looks like, what our programming looks like, and who we do our best work with as well.

Gina Thorne:   That’s great. Well, thank you so much, Jordan, it was great having you on campus.

Jordan Leffel:   Thank you.

For more information about Equinox Counseling and Wellness Center:


Mirroring in Relationships: Manifesting and Maintaining Connection


by Khara Croswaite Brindle

What does it mean to feel connection with another person? How do you know when you are building rapport in your interactions with others? For many of us, connection starts with body language and conversation when determining relatability and ongoing engagement. Engagement can lead to belongingness and belongingness is a crucial element of positive mental health and overall wellness. So why wouldn’t we want to pursue belongingness and connection in our relationships and throughout our lives in support of optimal wellbeing?

Monkey See Monkey Do

Connection can be measured externally in how we interact with one another, but also internally through brain activity. Mimicking one another, often described as mirroring, was first discovered by Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD and his colleagues when studying monkeys.  Rizzolatti recognized that there was similar, observable brain activity indicating pleasure when a monkey consumed a banana as when the monkey observed a researcher consuming a banana. This brain activity involving neurons, called Mirror Neurons, provided implications that our brain activity responds in relation to others, thus encouraging development of an empathetic response. A more recent article was published in the UK on research involving infants and their mothers. With eye contact, the brain waves in the infant responded and attempted to synchronize with their mother, implying efforts at deeper connection and communication, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge.

Bonding in Business

Mirror neurons are important for close relationships; however, they can be influential in working relationships as well. Business gurus have developed interpersonal programs to support connection and reciprocity in business interactions, including awareness of body language, eye contact, and mannerisms. These programs can teach a person to be more aware of cues in social interactions and introduce subtle mirroring behaviors to increase engagement, likeability, and reciprocity.

Mirroring behavior in conversations is adaptive, such as noticing when one party begins to unconsciously mimic the other in their posture, speech, and/or gestures during an interaction. As you can see from the picture we’ve chosen above, several members of the group are mirroring one another in their hand gestures, indicating connection or attempted connection in the moment. When learning these interpersonal skills for yourself, you may experiment with subtly shifting your posture to mimic the other party, exploring any observable differences in the interaction, including how you each feel towards one another. Mirroring research shows that when you make subtle attempts to mirror another person, they will find you more approachable, likeable, and connected, all which can be valuable when conducting working interactions or achieving rapport.

Generational Gaps

Engagement in working and personal relationships can support successful interactions, and it can also change how a person feels about themselves, including shifts in self-confidence and self-worth. Jean Twenge, a Psychologist researching generational differences including mental health, substance use, technology, and social engagement, speaks of this in depth in her book iGen. Her book highlights the dramatic shift in social interaction away from face to face contact to more technology-based connection. Her book also highlights a possible correlation between technology and lack of belongingness, even when those surveyed reported, on average, more than three hours per day of technology use including social media. Twenge’s research identifies some concerns about connection, including individuals reporting minimal person to person engagement, low self-confidence or preparedness in social situations, and thus identifies questions needing to be answered around technology and mental health.

Regardless of how we measure it, connection is important. One way of encouraging connection is getting out in the world and finding people who have things in common. This can be a pleasant opportunity to engage over shared interests and build relationships. Identifying activities you enjoy can be a starting point to engaging others around shared interests, with organizations like bringing groups of people together around enjoyable experiences. Pushing yourself to get out and meet people can have a positive result, as belongingness and social interaction continue to be vital parts of what it means to be human.

You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”  Brene Brown

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

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