The following testimonials have been provided by health professionals who have attended a healing week or have an in-depth knowledge of the model we use.
The following testimonial is from a Kija/Ngarti woman from the East Kimberley in Western Australia who works with the justice system.
“I am an indigenous Kija/Ngarti woman from the East Kimberley Western Australia and I am Survivor of childhood abuse!
I had been troubled and overwhelmed by many traumas in my life, that was until I was introduced to Heal for life in 2010. I participated in the residential program in NSW, where I learnt how to heal and I found me! I finally learned the word ‘Love’ by learning to love myself.
Through my amazing experiences at HFL, I wanted to adopt and share their practices in my line of work with the justice system where I’ve worked for the past 15 years. I was becoming very frustrated with the over representation of countrymen in the criminal justice system and my passion to have a trauma informed approach for a sustainable change so I contacted HFL to deliver a residential program on country in the East Kimberley for young indigenous girls, to prevent a next generation that was fast approaching the system. With great relief the program went to plan and I am very excited to share that none of the 8 girls have re-offended.
I have since encouraged other family members to participate in the program, where 5 ladies travelled from Halls Creek to Sydney and had their own life changing experiences. Three of the ladies are now actively involved in the healing task force in our community and doing an absolute amazing job, with very limited resources & funding. Although I would like to constructively add, that whilst both programs where absolutely fantastic! I had reports and witnessed myself particularly with the young girls – that individuals (aboriginal) should be anonymous when he/she participates in these programs, as I feel they are holding back and feel shame to disclose in front of their peers and family members. Therefore just be mindful J
But I honestly can’t thank HFL enough, I really appreciate all that you’ve done for me and I totally recommend HFL with one consideration – to be an anonymous participant.”
Selina, East Kimberley, WA (October 2015)
“In 2014 as a retired medical doctor aged eighty three I participated in a Healing Week and then the Trauma Informed Healing module with Heal For Life searching for possible connections between my early childhood trauma and my Parkinsons Disease. I satisfied myself that such a connection exists and that for me the experience was very positive as it seemed to all who attended.
For me positive elements of my experience included:
- A safe non-hierarchical, anonymous non-judgemental environment
- Focus on the damage resulting from the trauma and not the cause of the damage. This seems to be consistent with the medical model where the cause of the injury may be helpful but is the actual damage that is in need of attention: the focus of the ‘damage’ being on the ‘Feelings’ system. In Transactional Analysis this is described as a Third Degree Impasse which occurs before effective thinking is established and blocks an intellectual solution to the problem
- The absence of an elitist academic authority. To quote Oscar Wilde: Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”.
The emerging verifiable sciences of neuro-physiology such as described by Allan Schore et al support the validity of the Heal For Life model. With my eclectic personal and professional experience including qualifications in psycho-therapy I believe that the principals under-pinning this model could be incorporated in many agencies involving human relationships for trauma is a universal process and to which the response is not predictable. Of course “one size does not fit all.”
Gerry Cartmel, retired GP, Bunbury, WA (August 2015)
Public Mental Health Services are not resourced for the long term management of the sequelae of childhood trauma. NGOs such as the “Heal For Life” program are an urgently needed and valuable resource for unresolved trauma issues.”
Dr Andrew Walker, FRANZCP, M.Psychotherapy (UNSW), Psychiatrist, Toronto, NSW (April 2015)
“Having attended the Heal for Life program myself, I knew that my clients would each receive what they needed to take control back in their own lives. I had recently suggested to another survivor that she attend the program. Since coming home, she is now making better choices both in her relationship with herself and significant others. We continue to work upon her self-esteem but Heal for Life has laid the necessary groundwork. We both thank you, Liz and the team!”
Leanda Howell, BSc/Psych (Hons), Psychologist, Erina, NSW (April 2015)
“Heal for Life is an amazing experience. Whether you are a survivor of trauma/abuse or a professional working with survivors, this week provides a safe, compassionate space to explore, learn, and grow. Facilitated by survivors who wear their hearts on their sleeves and clearly care deeply about each guest, my week there was rich, deeply rewarding, and has made a huge difference in not only my own personal healing journey but has deepened my understanding of the benefits of connecting with our “inner child”.”
Rachel Grant, M.A. Counseling Psychology, Beyond Surviving Program, San Francisco, www.rachelgrantcoaching.com (March 2015)
“Two weeks later thoughts … I am finding it challenging working in acute inpatient psychiatric care since doing the Heal for Life week. The healing I witnessed in some of the other participants and within myself in that one week was something I have never seen in psychiatric care. In fact, in acute psychiatric care people often become more unwell and after discharge are readmitted regularly thereby never receiving the care, the acknowledgment and validation of what has happened to them (in their past) which impacts on their lives today.
The key selection criteria for gaining the role of a mental health consumer consultant was that I have the lived experience of being a consumer (patient) of acute psychiatric care services. As is widely known, statistics show the majority of people accessing acute psychiatric care have a history of childhood abuse and trauma. Research cited in online trauma training for psychiatry in Victoria reports that 90% of public mental health patients have experienced trauma, and that most have multiple experiences of trauma (NETI, 2005).
‘Child abuse has a causal role in most mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and dissociative disorders. Psychiatric patients subject to childhood sexual or physical abuse have earlier first admissions and longer and more frequent hospitalizations, spend longer time in seclusion, receive more medication, are more likely to self-mutilate, and have higher symptom severity.’ (Read, 2008)
Feeling safe is something many survivors struggle with. However, in a very short time I was amazed that I felt very safe during the Heal for Life week. I felt safe in the beautiful serene physical environment, I felt safe with the group rules/guidelines, I felt safe to allow my feelings and emotions be released, I felt safe to be me, I felt safe to connect with my inner child, I felt safe to act like a child and not feel guilty for having fun. I felt safe as the peer support workers were human … they shared their own vulnerabilities, which clinicians, psychiatrists and the like avoid, preferring to retain a professional distance….” Read full testimonial …
Joanne Switserloot, Mental Health Consumer Consultant at a Melbourne Metropolitan Hospital Psychiatric Unit, VIC (March 2015)
“I attended a Heal for Life Healing Week in Western Australia 4 years ago, and believe it was a significant and powerful step in my healing journey. I was still in enormous pain at the time, at war with my hurt inner children, and terrified of allowing myself to grieve. The Healing Week was perfectly timed, as I didn’t feel I was going to survive much longer in so much pain and with such dangerous coping techniques. I was in the final stages of my Master’s degree, and had been working as a trauma trainer, but at great cost to myself. The Healing Week provided me with a safe place to grieve, and to begin healing my relationship with my inner children. This was the place where I really began to learn and practice compassion for myself. I did grieve, and it did hurt, but because I was in a safe place, surrounded by kind people who understood, the waves of grief didn’t drown me like I thought they would. This was a week of profound learning and growth, and the beginning of a productive new chapter in my healing. I am now working as a trauma trainer again, but in a much more sustainable way, that doesn’t cause me further injury. To do this work without compassion for myself, and without having healed myself enough, was adding to my pain. I can now foresee a long and healthy future, in both my personal and professional life. I know that my Healing Week helped me to get to this place. Thank you.”
Rebecca Moran, Trainer, Richmond Fellowship Western Australia (December 2014)
On Hennessy House, our facility for young women aged 16 – 25 years old
“The Heal for Life program has proven to be an adjunct to my work as a Psychologist in Mental Health that has enabled direction to clients who have been “stuck” – lacking hope and the experience of therapy effective to their particular presenting need. It has been a major boost to our confidence in addressing their needs with results that surely would stand up to appropriate validation. The majority of clients referred to us by Heal for Life have no longer needed continued service by our organization. The Heal for Life program has proven to be the most effective help they have received. These clients have, on the most part, been able to take on a balanced life of their own with effective integration into the community.
We have referred clients who have treatment resistant levels of depression primarily, although, not without other Mental Health issues sometimes. This category of client has historically shown to have suicidal ideation to a level that interferes with Mental Health wellbeing and functioning with frequent disruption to their lives, work and families. They also heavily tax Mental Health acute services.
The Heal for Life program offers an alternative and effective intervention that addresses underlying psychological dynamics. Our experience with clients completing this program is that suicidal ideation no longer remains a primary issue.”
David Burrell, Psychologist, Dubbo and Narromine, NSW
“I have been fortunate enough to witness the profound and life saving effect your program has had on one of my patients. I see your establishment as being a beacon, a unique, powerful effective program that has helped many who hithertho have been unable to be helped by mainstream mental health services.”
Dr Mark Adamski, M.B.B.S (NSW) D.R.C.O.G, Cowra, NSW
“For example, one patient I saw, had chronic sacroiliac pain, which continually recurred, the true cause of his pain was abuse he suffered as a child. As he worked through his past abuse at Heal for Life, the sacroiliac pain ceased… The program at Heal for Life uncovers the root cause of people’s pain and allows them to heal so completely at an emotional, mental, spiritual and physical level.”
Suk Mun Lum, B.Sc.D.C, Pittwater Chiropractic, Sydney
“I specialise in trauma counselling and have 30 years experience. I have to date been associated with seven clients who have had exceptional success in availing of the therapeutic interventions and environment of Heal for Life. I truly believe it is unique and essential that it be assisted and encouraged in its very valuable work with survivors of trauma.”
William Clarke, B.PSYCH. (Dublin), Brisbane, QLD
“Heal for Life provides an adventurous and cosy environment and a community with emotional boundaries, which are flexible enough to provide exploration, experimentation and expression but firm enough to provide safety and security. My awareness and decisions for change which are necessary for my healing could not have occurred without this.”
Dr Jan Harrison, MBBS FANZCA B. Counselling, Specialist anaesthetist and counsellor for people with chronic illness unresponsive to conventional medicine, Lismore, NSW
“Many of my clients have experienced clinical depression for some years. However, since returning from a Healing Week (in consultation with their doctors) several of my clients no longer need take antidepressant medications. Others have managed to reduce their dosage of SSRI’s to minimal maintenance levels. For several of these clients their struggle with depression has mean years of suffering, attending psychiatric facilities and a fear of never being well. They are delighted to say the least and leave Heal for Life information and tools which allow them to continue their healing after completing a healing week. Having been disempowered by their abuse, most clients leave with a sense of having been set free and feeling re-empowered. Many have managed to break the cycles of abuse which have trapped them in dysfunctional lifestyles of violence and addiction. Others have returned to work after years of unemployment.
Upon returning from the program clients are able to participate in therapy at a deeper level than prior to attending their Healing Week I find I am able to work with clients using the Heal for Life model thus enabling the to more effectively deal with the impact of their trauma. Their deeper understanding of the multiple effects of their trauma enables and motivates clients to move past the trauma and live more productive and fulfilling lives.
I believe the Heal for Life model is both adaptable and transferable and have successfully used components of the model with clients with a history of PTSD as a result of trauma experienced whilst working in the emergency services. These clients have recovered more quickly and completely than I believe is possible using “traditional” treatment approaches such as CBT alone. I, therefore, believe it is possible for open minded professionals to benefit both personally and professionally by attending a Healing Week. I only wish I had found Heal for Life a long time ago.”
Helen Thompson, Psychologist, NSW