In the rehab industry, the word “holistic” is thrown around quite a bit. It can be used to mean just about anything—from organic meals to deep breathing exercises. But Rally Point Palm Beach offers a gender-specific rehab program for men that truly approaches recovery as an all-encompassing, interconnected process of healing of mind, body and spirit.
At Rally Point, the atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable, with a small group of men sharing upscale homes in a beautiful beachside community. In the usual “Florida-style” the treatment protocol begins with a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and structured sober living, followed by an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and outpatient care. A maximum of just six men in PHP participate in a rigorous schedule of group and individual sessions, 12-step meetings and experiential therapies like art, music and outdoor adventures.
Beyond therapy, life at Rally Point emphasizes helping the men learn to replace their old destructive patterns with a healthy outlook and lifestyle. This includes learning new ways to relieve stress and care for their minds and bodies. To these ends, Rally Point offers twice-weekly yoga classes on-site as well as nutritional counseling and tips for grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation. Led by certified professionals, these sessions help the men identify the ways their addictive lifestyle contributed to a decline in their overall health and find natural solutions.
“Long term substance abuse puts a large amount of stress on the mind and body. Many substances impair physiological functioning and the body’s ability to receive proper nourishment. In most cases, the drug took the place of food and most clients come in underweight and undernourished,” says Angela Hernandez, Rally Point’s Registered Dietitian.
Hernandez has a BS in in Food Science and Human Nutrition from University of Florida and an MS in Foods and Nutrition from University of Georgia. She currently works with Rally Point as well as another treatment center, providing nutritional counseling, group seminars and individual sessions. Hernandez’s interest in helping addicts began after she received certification in 2010 and was working at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in the mental health unit. She loved the challenge of caring for vulnerable and misunderstood populations.
She shares, “I have the ability to look at these individuals as regular people who are facing a challenge in their life as opposed to others that think of them solely as “addicts” or “homeless” and cast them aside.” Years later, when she had the opportunity to start working with treatment centers, it was a natural fit. Her philosophy for helping addicts is this: “These individuals come in broken and down on themselves and I believe it is all of our jobs to establish rapport with the clients and build their sense of trust with us and build their sense of self worth before they will have a chance at recovery.”
Another member of Rally Point’s holistic wellness team is Lizzy Moore, who teaches yoga and meditation. Moore has a BA in Human Services, 17 years experience as a massage therapist and has taught yoga for more than a decade. She owns a yoga studio called “Little Ocean Yoga” in North Palm Beach and recently received a 500-hour certification in a holistic healing program called Yoga Medicine.
Moore has been working with addicts in a treatment setting for about eight years and believes wholeheartedly that yoga, meditation and breath work compliment recovery. She says, “Many clients become very disconnected from their bodies [in active addiction]. We talk a lot about the power of the breath. That simply taking some deep breaths can shift us from living out of unconscious reactions and moving towards making conscious choices in life.”
Moore finds that by seeing the clients twice a week, she is able to get to know them fairly well throughout the course of their time in treatment. She bases yoga and meditation sessions on how the group is feeling that day—mentally, physically and emotionally. Some days they feel like being more active, other days they are tired and want a more “chill meditative” session. Though she adapts based on their needs, most of her sessions include the basic components of stretching, physical movement, breath work and meditation.
Moore describes the dramatic transformations of clients, “I see clients become more flexible and feel less pain. Clients often tell me they look forward to yoga all week because they know they will feel so good and relaxed.” As they near the end of treatment, she teaches them to incorporate what they have learned from her into their aftercare plans by suggesting yoga studios close to them or good online meditations based on their needs.
Nutrition is every Wednesday. Hernandez meets with the guys to cover a selection of seminar topics. She covers things like protein requirements and building muscle for those who are into fitness, or coordinates the topics with a particular timeframe like healthy holiday eating in December or heart health for the week of Valentine’s Day. She tries to hit certain topics like mindful eating and recommended daily nutritional requirements at least once during each client’s stay at Rally Point to give them well-rounded information before they leave. Sometimes the nurse flags clients at intake that are dealing with diabetes, eating disorders, high cholesterol or any other nutritionally high-risk condition. Hernandez sees these clients privately for individual sessions, providing more specialized education and counseling.
Once the guys understand the basic principles of nutrition and how to deal with any health issues they may have, Hernandez’s goal is on helping build some basic life skills. Since the clients at Rally Point get to shop and cook for themselves, her sessions are strategically scheduled during the hour before they go grocery shopping each week. That way, she is available if they need help putting together meal plans and grocery lists at the end of group. With her guidance, the men learn valuable tools for healthy meal planning, shopping on a budget and preparing healthy, well balanced meals.
Both Moore and Hernandez agree that the program at Rally Point is different from other treatment centers. It’s a small facility, so the clients receive really specialized attention and treatment. Every member of the staff is experienced, certified and genuinely cares about the wellness of clients. The program is truly designed to help the men heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. With an emphasis on learning about the connection between physical and emotional health through yoga and nutrition, Rally Point embraces the idea that recovery is truly about healing the whole person. After having much more than just a clinical rehab experience, clients leave Rally Point feeling valued and prepared for a healthy, fulfilling life.