Founded in 2008 by Marilyn Wise, Astara House offers holistic treatment for women in a comfortable, relaxed home environment. Wise is an addiction counselor with a certification in clinical, heart-centered hypnotherapy, a model that expands upon traditional hypnosis to address mental, physical, emotional and spiritual transformation and healing. She has a vision to provide alternative and complementary therapies to conventional addiction treatment. While Astara technically calls itself a sober living in its marketing, it’s unique in actually blending sober living with an intensive inpatient treatment model (though outpatient programs are also available).
Accommodations and Food
Astara is nestled in the quiet, historic town of Bedford, Ohio. It has a well-kept exterior framed by mature landscaping and a variety of flowers, when they’re in season. Inside, each room seems torn from the pages of an interior design magazine, though all still seem warm and lived-in. The colors are soothing and the furniture is comfortable and inviting. All bedrooms are private and feature either queen or double beds; altogether, the facility is equipped to serve five to seven women at a time.
Within walking distance, residents can enjoy the downtown coffee shop, nature trails and local library. Still, treatment isn’t offered at the residence itself—instead, clients are bussed to Astara’s main offices at Insight Learning and Wellness Center located in Warrensville Heights, a few miles away. Insight is a more generalized community center that offers mental health counseling, martial arts classes for children and a variety of other services, all with a focus on integrative medicine—Astara is the component that deals with addiction.
Treatment and Staff
The program at Astara invites clients to discover their true selves, and offers treatment for substance abuse and process addictions such as gambling, sex, shopping and eating disorders. The approach is 12-step oriented, though individual treatment varies from person to person depending on their needs. Detox is not available on-site, but clinical services typically include individual and group counseling, regular drug and alcohol testing, relapse prevention, DBT and psychiatric care. The program also incorporates family into counseling sessions as needed.
Astara is overseen by a house manager and an addiction counselor. The clinical services described above are offered by a well-educated staff of licensed professionals and psychiatrists, a naturopathic doctor, a medical doctor and a nutrition specialist. Staff also includes specialists in acupuncture and Qi Gong, massage therapists, art therapists and nature therapists.
The house focuses on building life skills by sharing chores, cooking and collaborative decision making—meaning each resident has a say in how the house functions day to day. Given how integral nutrition is to mental health, Astara invites clients to learn healthy cooking techniques, and to begin each day by juicing or making whole-food smoothies. Sunday evenings provide an opportunity for a “shared meal,” where residents’ families are invited to attend.
The facility implements rules only insofar as it facilitates recovery. Computer and Internet use are allowed, but cell phones are discouraged. Clients rise early and enjoy meditation followed by a healthy breakfast and exercise before leading into each day’s flexible schedule of therapies; lights out is at 11 pm to ensure adequate rest. Although a television is available, it’s mostly used for recovery-related DVDs and other inspirational programming.
What sets Astara House apart (aside from their mixed-model approach to treatment mentioned above) is its dedication to caring for the whole person and not simply treating the surface symptoms of addiction. Founder Marilyn Wise’s philosophy is to offer holistic treatment as a correction to the conventional wisdom of Western medicine, which she alleges tends to treat the symptoms of a problem rather than its root causes. To that end, their program includes art therapy, yoga, meditation, hiking (and other forms of outdoor exercise), arts and crafts, acupuncture, heart-centered hypnotherapy and equine therapy.
For those looking for a holistic rehab that feels more like home, Astara may offer the environment and healing they’re looking for. Although the facility is small and the program less-structured than other rehabs, it boasts a stream of glowing testimonials from women who have found hope and healing at the program. It offers great value for the price, with plenty of one-on-one time that many women are sure to find invaluable.
90 Woodrow Ave
Bedford, OH 44146
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