So what actually happens on a healing week. Posted March 7, 2014 by Belle Symmonds

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‘The week was a truly amazing five day healing journey

taking me from thinking of myself as a victim to at the end of the week being

one who now saw himself as a survivor. I came away a much stronger, more

loving and positive person.’

 

 

Recovery from childhood abuse and trauma

By Dale Lynch

I first heard about Heal for Life from DR Philippa White the coordinator

of the CBERS Redress Service in Western Australia. I had never dealt with

the years of childhood abuse and trauma and to me counselling was scary

and had never been an option for me. Pip (Dr White) spoke to me about Heal

for Life’s healing week suggesting it may be able to help me and the Redress

programme would meet the cost for me if I was interested. I took the Heal for

Life brochure Pip handed me intending to read it when I got home. Until this

time I had just hidden any thoughts on my abuse along deep in the back of my

mind as it was something I didn’t want to remember.

Later at home, I read the brochure and looked at the Heal for Life

website, I was struck by the fact that this (HFL) was run others who had

endured childhood abuses in an effort to help people who experienced similar

abuse. The week away appealed a bit like a school camp would to a child,

which by not having a real childhood was something I never experienced. So

after some thought and after speaking with people from Heal for Life I took the

plunge and applied to go on a healing week.

The week was to be held in August 2010 at the Seven Day Adventist

camp site at Logue Brook Dam in Harvey Western Australia. I really wasn’t

sure if I would go or not. As the week approached I became more

apprehensive about going as really I had no idea of what to expect or who the

others would be on the course. A phone call from a male Heal for Life carer

helped allay some of my fears, reassuring me I was not the only male that

would be there. As I was driving myself to the healing week I thought ah well I

can always leave if I don’t like it.

I arrived at the camp site on Sunday afternoon and was shown my bed

in a chalet I would be sharing with two other males. I was then introduced to

the others that would be there for the week along with the Heal for Life

coordinator and carers (all volunteers). There were six females and two other

males along for the healing week and they appeared to be (like me) very

nervous. Later that evening as we had our first group meeting the outline of

the week was explained to us then we all as a group drew up a group safety

agreement so that each and every one of us would feel respected secure and

safe for the week. A community spirit was also created by the sharing of food

and sorting of a communal roster for the kitchen duties: cooking, cleaning for

the week.

The main workshops consisted of a morning and afternoon group

meeting in the “Barn” each day. This was not like group therapy but more

instructive and informative. There was plenty of time between our morning

and evening reflections and the two daily workshops, to enjoy ourselves and

the perfect bush surrounds we were in which only made to help us relax and

enjoy the healing week.

Later in the day we had Sharing, where we each stated a sentence of our

abuse there was no “in story” or detail gone into. However to admit our abuse

openly (something we all struggled with initially) became a very empowering

thing and by the end of the week we were all able to do this without breaking

down emotionally.

Heal for Life uses the “Inner Child” concept throughout the course of the

healing week and we were shown how to get in touch with our inner child

whilst having explained in detail the effect of childhood trauma on the brain,

our emotions and our development to adults. We were taught to recognise

when we had been “triggered” and how to process our emotion ourselves

when triggered. On the third day of the healing week we had what was

described as a fun day, this involved taking our inner child to a party. Dress

ups were the order of the day along with face painting, games and party

foods. This was a truly amazing experience for me as I (and some of the

others) had never been to a child’s party as a child.

By day five the group had bonded as I had never seen a group bond

before and our goodbyes were all strong and sincere to our new found

brothers and sisters. The week was a truly amazing five day healing journey

taking me from thinking of myself as a victim to at the end of the week being

one who now saw himself as a survivor. I came away a much stronger, more

loving and positive person. Unfortunately, at the time of this healing week I

was recovering from a major illness (stroke) and did not fully take on board

the tools I had been shown to use after the healing week. So when in August

2011, at a meeting with the Christian Brothers the brothers offered to pay for

counselling as part of an apology I asked if instead they could pay for a Heal

for Life healing week, to which they agreed. Unfortunately due to the numbers

meant the next couple of WA HFL healing weeks did not go ahead .

So through the Heal for Life coordinator for Western Australia it was

arranged for me to attend a healing week at Heal for Life’s main headquarters

and property (Mayumurri) in Cessnock, New South Wales. Heal for Life not

only arranged the travel arrangements but also covered the cost themselves.

On arrival at the property I was struck by what a beautiful place for

healing the place was. Set on 360 acres in the Hunter Valley, it has ideal bush

surrounds that ooze with tranquillity and nature. The healing centre is divided

up into main parts Phillip House used for treatment of male adolescents, Eva

House for teenage girls and the Adult Centre which was where my healing

week was held.

The adult centre was made up of two guest chalets, each chalet made

up of two dormitory style rooms containing three beds (6 beds a chalet), a

bathroom and toilet. A huge building contained a large kitchen, dining room,

small library (books on healing etc) and a communal lounge type area which

was kept warm with a wood fire that burned the whole healing week. Another

building is a huge circular style chapel where the morning and evening

reflections were held. The Heal for Life healing week is totally a non religious

week. The workshops “Barn” is situated by a dam and is surrounded by a

variety of areas to process anger and emotion. The dam itself is suitable for

swimming and boating. A jetty has been built and kayaks and row boats are

provided for the guests to use. The rest of the property contains Heal for Life’s

office, carer’s cabins and some staff who live on the property; however, these

people do not intrude into the healing week’s space during the week.

Whilst the structure of the healing week was similar to that of the one I

attended in W.A., the carers (all volunteers) were different along, with the

group of guests making it all a new experience. This time there were ten

females and three males along with four female and one male carer. One of

the guests had come all the way from the Philippines and I now remember

that on my first healing week a lady had came from China to attend the week.

Once again the group bonded beautifully.

This time because of better health I was to concentrate and take on a

lot more and once again I came away refreshed, stronger and able to view

life’s ups and downs a lot more positively. I no longer see myself as a victim

but that of a strong survivor with a lot more empathy and compassion for my

fellow man. I greatly recommend the Heal for Life healing weeks for anyone

who has suffered any form of child abuse or childhood trauma and feel it is

essential that we keep Heal for Life healing weeks running in Western

Australia. I believed so much in the benefit of the Heal for Life healing weeks

leading me to a massive lifestyle change for the positive that, after doing the

training I am now a volunteer carer for Heal for Life W.A. and highly

recommend the HFL healing weeks. Heal For Life also have limited

sponsored places (no cost to the guest) available. For further information

please email

wa@healforlife.com.au

or go to the Heal For Life Website at Healforlife.com.au

2 Comments

  • Wilburn March 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

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    Reply

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