The Refuge, a Florida recovery facility on 94 acres in the middle of Ocala National Forest, might be worth consideration. It’s been in business since 2004, and the variety of treatment programs it offers is impressive. While it specializes in PTSD and trauma, it also treats depression, eating disorders, drug/alcohol addiction and even process addictions like gambling, sex and shopping.
Housing at the Refuge consists of small cabins throughout the property, with a total of 36 female beds and 25 male ones between them; the only difference is that female cabins have three beds apiece with a loft whereas male cabins have two beds and no loft (but everyone gets a roommate). The self-described focus here is on getting in touch with the “purity of nature,” so residents shouldn’t expect much TV or Internet time.
Treatment and Staff
One of the credos at the Refuge is “there is no one specific way to do trauma work,” so each program track addresses physical, spiritual and emotional healing with a focus on the individual. Basic offerings include CBT and 12-step work (along with off-site AA/NA meetings), though they largely favor experiential treatment. Their list of treatment modalities is extensive, and includes psychodrama, hypnosis, yoga, art and music therapy, adventure therapy, Reiki, acupuncture, EMDR, equine therapy and somatic experiencing.
An average day generally begins with a morning meditation, breakfast, a community meeting and a morning caseload with six to nine other clients that lasts about two hours. After that, residents have an hour to attend step-work groups or to work on therapeutic assignments (including creating a timeline of their lives, a body map for locating trauma or letter writing). After that comes lunch and the afternoon caseload with a different group of clients. Free time, where residents can meet with therapists, take in the sights, contact family and friends or just relax, follows.
There’s also a four-day family week that happens every six weeks (depending on client and counselor approval) where families are invited to educational sessions (both group and one-on-one) about how to communicate, set boundaries and listen to one another.
Their staff includes two doctors and a nurse director, as well as a 13-person clinical staff of therapists, counselors and psychologists, two of which are PhD level, though most have Masters degrees; they also have eight outpatient-only staff members with similar qualifications. Residential stays range from 30 days to an entire year, while on-site detox (if necessary) lasts seven to 10 days.
Besides the aforementioned experimental treatment methods that are considered a core part of the program, the pine-covered campus also has a swimming pool, volleyball court, basketball court and fishing dock for residents to use during down time. There’s also a labyrinth and many trails throughout the property for biking, hiking and horseback riding—there’s even high and low ropes courses, as well.
Overall, the Refuge is truly that—clients can expect to be alone with their thoughts and the healing power of nature, even if the actual daily structure is loose enough to provide ample freedom. Those with wanderlust will click with this approach better than techies, but cabin-cravers wanting East coast treatment could certainly find themselves getting on the road to recovery here.
14835 SE 85th St
Ocklawaha, FL 32179
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