Shades of Hope, a residential treatment facility in west Texas, is perhaps best known for its founder, Tennie McCarty, whose program for food addiction recovery has landed her on Oprah, Larry King, Dr.Oz, and, most recently, a spot as a Healthy Living Blogger for The Huffington Post. McCarty had been the program director of a drug and alcohol treatment center when someone confronted her about her own struggle with food addiction. As her book details, McCarty believes eating disorders, like chemical dependencies, are physical and mental problems that can be treated with a spiritual solution. Shades of Hope therefore ascribes to 12-step philosophy.
Although known primarily for its work around eating disorders, Shades has been treating “all” addictions for 20 years. And when it refers to “all addictions,” it really does mean all: alcohol, drugs, sex, love, Internet, shopping and overspending, codependency, self-harm, and, of course, eating.
Accommodations and Food
Shades of Hope is small—there are 22 beds in its inpatient program—and so is its homestead of Buffalo Gap. Abilene is a quick 20 minutes away and Fort Worth is a two-and-a-half hour drive east.
Staff and clients are overwhelmingly female, but treatment is co-ed and accepts men so long as they are not active in sex addiction. All clients can expect to have a roommate. Much of the long-term treatment population are women in their early 20s, with a smattering of teenagers and older women. There’s a real intimacy to Shades of Hope: its accommodations, its dining room, even where its classroom sessions are held.
There’s no gym at Shades. This can become a disorder of its own. Meals are ultra-healthy; fish and poultry are served as entrees, but no red meat. Sugar or white flour are prohibitied. Any potential clients with vegetarian or vegan diets can be accommodated, so long as they can prove that the restriction is based on moral conviction, not a part of an eating disorder.
Treatment and Staff
As it stands, Shades of Hope has three distinct programs: a 42-day program, a six-day intensive program, and a two-day intensive workshop. All clients in long-term residence have individualized treatment plans; the shorter programs follow a more homogeneous routine and can be helpful for people in recovery who fear relapse or want spot treatment, and for folks who can’t get the time away from work or home to commit to six weeks.
Sixty percent of clients here deal with more than one addiction. Every person’s specific plan of action is different, but all are some combination of therapies (individual, CBT, body image, emotive, desensitization), approaches to containment (anger, shame, work and stress management), and mindfulness (daily meditation, yoga, walking). The psychiatrist on staff is able to prescribe medication for clients with co-occurring disorders, like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Shades partners with a local medical detox, so clients struggling with chemical dependency can, if needed, detox before arriving at treatment.
Potential clients who aren’t able to commit to six weeks have the option to enroll in Shades’ six-day intensive program. These six-day intensives are offered monthly and have different themes: love addiction, codependency, trauma. All the intensives focus on unearthing deeply rooted, unresolved trauma that compels clients to act out in their various addictions. Room, board, meals and transportation from the airport are included in the cost of these programs, but psychiatric services are not.
Shades of Hope offers a handful of two-day intensive programs a year, called “Breaking Free” weekends. These weekends are essentially distilled version of the six-day intensive programs, and spots are very limited so early sign up is encouraged.
Shades of Hope has an intimate staff: an executive director, a clinical director with her PhD, an admissions director, two therapists (one, a licensed chemical dependency counselor; the other has a Master’s in Education), and a family week coordinator. Of Shades’ leadership, only the family week coordinator is male.
Once a week, on Saturday afternoons, clients travel to Abilene for a group lunch. The only other time clients eat out is the Friday of their Family Week, when they will be free to leave campus from lunchtime through dinner. Family Week is the fourth or fifth week of treatment, after clients have had time to adjust and have begun to develop skills around talking to their families about addiction and recovery. It’s during Family Week that clients discuss aftercare with their treatment teams; Shades offers transitional living but if transitional living is not an option, staff and clients will still create a Continuing Care plan in their final week to ensure the best possible outcome for their recovery.
In the long-term residential program, clients wake up early, have a physical evaluation, do some kind of light exercise (yoga or a walk) and have breakfast all before lecture at 9 am. The rest of the day is a dialogue between meals and groups: lunch at noon, afternoon session at 1:30, dinner at 5 pm, evening session at 7, snack at 9. After snack, clients have time for personal meditation and bedtime is 11 pm. Depending on her individual program, a client may attend 12-step meetings: several are held on campus, but most are in nearby Abilene.
Unlike some treatment facilities, weekends at Shades of Hope are pretty lax. Saturdays include the trip off campus to Abilene. Sundays are largely unstructured. Visiting hours are 2 pm to 4 pm. There are few luxuries to Shades of Hope, but it is, above all, quiet and comfortable.
The most helpful aspect of Shades of Hope’s website is its FAQ page, which answers questions about what constitutes disordered behavior—around food or anything else. Potential clients struggling to understand if they have a problem with addiction can read this page, or call Shades’ hotline for a free assessment.
As far as residential treatment goes, Shades of Hope is not off the wall expensive. Yes,$ 700 a day is a chunk, but the treatment here is stellar and Shades does accept insurance. Medicare and Medicaid are not accepted, but Shades is happy to point people in the right direction who need to pay for treatment with public insurance.
Shades of Hope has reached the mecca of approbation in winning Oprah’s approval. This is an ideal place for women, especially, who need time off to recuperate in tranquility, and who appreciate the close attention Shades’ staff can provide.
Shades of Hope
402 Mulberry St
Buffalo Gap, TX 79508
Shades of Hope Cost: $29,400 (42 days); $3,495 (6 days). Reach Shades of Hope by phone at (800)-588-HOPE or by email at [email protected]. Find Shades of Hope on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest
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