Spirituality: A Powerful Force in Women’s Recovery

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Overview

Spirituality Conference Logo

The purpose of this symposium was to better understand the role that spirituality plays in the recovery process for women from various ethnic and racial backgrounds and to help service providers integrate spirituality into their work with women in recovery. Specifically, the following questions were addressed: (1) What do we mean by spirituality? (2) How is spirituality distinct from religion? (3) How is spirituality core to the healing process for women? and (4) How can we help women to address the spiritual dimensions in their lives and recovery? Experts in the connection between substance abuse and spirituality presented information and guided discussion groups to help participants explore and gain a better understanding of these issues.

Audio recordings, presentation slides and handouts from this meeting are available from the archive tab.

 

Archive

Recordings of the keynote speakers are available below:

The Upward Spiral: Women and Recovery

Presenter: Stephanie Covington, PhD (60 minutes)
Download the PowerPoint slides [PPT].

How to Integrate Spirituality into Work with Substance Using Women

Presenters: Geneva Berns, MAT, and Dusty Miller, EdD

  • Ms. Berns provides information and tools to help workers explore their own spirituality as a critical first step toward integrating spirituality into work with clients.
    Listen to this presentation (MP3 format, 20 minutes)
  • Dr. Miller presents specific, concrete strategies that blend psycho-educational process and expressive activities to help women discover their own spirituality and explore sustaining spiritual resources as part of their healing process.
    Listen to this presentation (MP3 format, 20 minutes).

Freeing the Spirit

Presenter: China Galland, MA

Ms. Galland presents stories, slides and tales of the divine feminine from a multiplicity of cultures throughout the world. Weaving ancient narratives of the sacred together with powerful images of the sacred feminine, Ms. Galland highlights one of the most ancient images of the divine feminine found the world over—the powerful, benevolent, healing Dark Mother or Black Virgin. This presentation is based largely on “Free Spirits,” the national pilot project, founded by Ms. Galland, to take these transformative images to incarcerated women and girls.
Listen to this presentation (MP3 format, 48 minutes).

 

Agenda

Monday, September 15, 2003

8:30 –9:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 –10:15 Welcome and Keynote: The Upward Spiral: Women and Recovery

Presenter: Stephanie Covington, PhD

Addiction can be described as a process of looking outside oneself in order to obtain something to fill an inner void, something that will make one feel whole and complete. Women can develop addictions to all kinds of things, but none of them can fill the emptiness that is often called a spiritual void. Recovery can reveal a spiritual path toward inner wholeness, congruence and integrity. Introspection, openness to what is, willingness to take responsibility for one’s choices, to “let go” and to surrender are all means by which we can begin turning our focus inward. Dr. Covington will discuss themes from the spiritual tradition that are inherent in this process and general strategies for incorporating these themes into work with women in recovery.

10:15 –10:30 Break

10:30 –12:00 Panel: How to Integrate Spirituality into Work with Substance Using Women

Presenters: Geneva Berns, MAT, Dusty Miller, EdD, and Sweets Wilson, PhD, LADC

Ms. Berns will provide information and tools to help workers explore their own spirituality as a critical first step toward integrating spirituality into work with clients.

Dr. Miller will use case examples to present specific, concrete strategies that blend psycho-educational, process and expressive activities to help women discover their own spirituality and explore sustaining spiritual resources as part of their healing process.

Dr. Wilson will discuss lessons learned from faith-based communities and treatment providers that have begun to recognize the value of working together to seek solutions for African American women. She also will discuss the use of meditation with this population. Recovery is healing and healing is human growth. Without the discipline and joy of meditation, that growth is lost.

12:00 –1:15 Host Lunch

1:15 –2:45 Group Discussions:
The morning presenters will lead groups of participants through a list of questions and applied activities to further explore the ideas and strategies identified in their presentations.

2:45 –3:00 Break

3:00 –4:30 Group Discussions continued

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

8:30–9:00 Continental Breakfast

9:00 –10:15 Keynote: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Being

Presenter: Rosalinda Ramirez, MCSP

To realize the spirit within is to be fully natural, fully who we were born to be. Realizing the life of the spirit within is spirituality. How we pursue that realization and how we express it in our external relationships—that is culture. Participants will have the opportunity to explore an understanding of the dynamics between culture and spirituality and its significance.

10:15–11:00 Break and Poster Presentations

Poster presentations on programs, models and services related to spirituality and women’s recovery will be displayed, and presenters will be available to answer questions about their presentations.

11:00–12:30 Concurrent Workshops

Mascara

Presenters: Barbara Kappos, MSW, and Sherry Smith-Hampton, MSW

This workshop will describe the art of creating your own personal mask and explore ways that your mask covers true feelings and painful struggles. The process of making the mask through words and art will allow us to look deeply at our own lives and allow the process of healing to begin, reconnecting us with our true self. Participants will experience this process themselves and learn how to incorporate it into their own programs.

Reconnecting to the Rhythms of the Universe to Reclaim Your Spiritual Self

Presenter: Tracie Robinson, MA

When there is a lost awareness of connection to spirit, there is also a lost capability to turn to this connection for nurturance, support, growth and a sense of “oneness” with the universe. Through various mediums, participants will explore several techniques to promote the letting go and reclaiming of their core self. They will utilize movement to access past experiences that remain held in the soul and impede the psyche while affecting the physical body. These exercises will enhance a direct experience of embodied deep listening—to self, others and a higher power. This workshop will facilitate an awakening of one’s inner source of infinite wisdom to promote courage to let go and joy to reclaim self (mind, body and spirit). In addition to providing a first-hand experience for participants, Ms. Robinson will discuss strategies for incorporating these techniques into work with women in recovery.

Writing as a Pathway to Healing: Letting Words Lead the Way to Spirit

Presenter: Thea Sullivan, MFA, MAT

Author Nina Holzer writes, “Talking to paper is talking to the Divine.” This workshop will explore creative writing’s potential as a powerful tool for self-discovery, healing and spiritual connection. Through lively, experiential and easily adapted exercises, participants will put pen to paper and emerge with a deeper understanding of the power of writing to aid in the healing process. Participants will take away strategies for creating a safe, supportive environment, encouraging the reluctant writer and guiding their clients through this process.

12:30 –2:00 Closing Luncheon Keynote: Freeing the Spirit

Presenter: China Galland, MA

Ms. Galland will present stories, slides and tales of the divine feminine from a multiplicity of cultures throughout the world. Weaving ancient narratives of the sacred together with powerful images of the sacred feminine, she will highlight one of the most ancient images of the divine feminine found the world over—the powerful, benevolent, healing Dark Mother or Black Virgin. Additionally, through short experiential exercises, participants will discover what we need to do in our own lives to free our spirits. In freeing ourselves, we become free to help liberate our sisters in recovery. Ms. Galland will include a short handout of ideas and resources to help maintain a spiritual context for working with women in recovery. This is based largely on “Free Spirits,” the national pilot project she founded to take these transformative images to incarcerated women and girls.

2:00 Adjourn

 

Speaker Bios

Geneva Berns, MAT, is currently on the Franciscan Leadership Team in Rochester, Minnesota. She was the Supervisor of Pastoral Care at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, from April 1990 to June 2000. She is a well known, international speaker and educator, with more than thirty years experience in addressing the issues of today’s living. Geneva has conducted workshops, retreats and seminars throughout the United States and internationally. She presents on a variety of issues, including addiction, abuse, self-esteem, empowerment, spirituality and grief and loss. She recently completed three video tapes on the topics of grief and spirituality as part of the Betty Ford Center Series. Ms. Berns holds a Master’s Degree from St. Michael’s College in Vermont, and is a trained pastoral counselor. She is certified as an elementary school teacher and a chemical dependency practitioner.

Stephanie Covington, PhD, is co-director of the Institute for Relational Development and the Center for Gender and Justice. She is a clinician, author, organizational consultant and lecturer. Recognized for her pioneering work in the area of women’s issues, Dr. Covington specializes in the development and implementation of gender-responsive services. She has conducted seminars worldwide on addiction, sexuality, families and relationships for health professionals, business and community organizations and recovery groups. The seminars, both practical and sensitive in approach, provide professionals with a valuable opportunity to learn new skills for dealing with personal, institutional and societal changes as we move into the twenty-first century. Among the many articles and books written by Dr. Covington are A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps and its companion workbook; Awakening Your Sexuality: A Guide for Recovering Women; and Leaving the Enchanted Forest: The Path from Relationship Addiction to Intimacy. Most recently, she is the author of a comprehensive treatment curriculum entitled Helping Women Recover: A Program for Treating Addiction, with a special edition for the criminal justice system.

China Galland, MA, is the award-winning author of The Bond Between Women; Longing for Darkness, Tara and the Black Madonna; and Women in the Wilderness. A Professor in Residence at the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE) at the Graduate Theological Union, she is also the Founder and Director of Images of Divinity (IOD), an independent project sponsored by CARE, a non-profit Center within the Graduate Theological Union. IOD locates, gathers and introduces (through varied media forms) female images of the divine into mainstream American culture in order to build bridges between diverse peoples, cultures and traditions. Ms. Galland is focused on producing ways to demonstrate concretely how this material is relevant to the situation and needs of incarcerated women and girls. She has pioneered multiple applications of her cross-cultural, religiously plural material and created programs and conferences for universities and galleries as well. Additionally, Ms. Galland lectures internationally. In 2003, she was featured in a PBS one-hour documentary feature, “Women of Wisdom and Power: The Power Within,” along with Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, and a handful of other female change-makers. In 2002, she was featured in a DVD entitled “Stabat Mater” on the French composer Francois Poulenc’s “Litany to the Black Virgin.” Ms. Galland and the two other authors featured are the world’s leading authorities on the subject of the Dark or Black Madonna.

Barbara Kappos, MSW, currently serves as the Director of Bienvenidos Family Services located in East Los Angeles. She has served in this position for the past thirteen years and has organized and implemented over 40 community-based programs. Ms. Kappos has dedicated over 20 years of her life to the war on poverty and continues to facilitate and advocate for women and their families afflicted by poverty. She is an expert in the area of family strengthening, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and community mobilization, and she has been instrumental in building an infrastructure for culturally competent, family-focused programs that build on the strengths of the Latino community.

Dusty Miller, EdD, clinical psychologist, consultant and writer, is the director of ATRIUM Institute and Co-Director of the Willing Spirit Retreat Center in Massachusetts. Along with numerous journal articles, Dr. Miller has written the following books: Women Who Hurt Themselves; Addictions and Trauma Recovery: Healing the Body, Mind and Spirit; and Your Surviving Spirit: A Workbook of Spiritual Resources for Coping with Trauma. She also developed a trauma and addictions model that has been successfully implemented in a variety of settings, including rural and urban community-based projects, recovery facilities and prisons.

Rosalinda Ramirez, MA, has a Master’s degree in counseling and spirituality and she is a certified drug and alcohol counselor, clinical supervisor, international intercultural trainer and NIDA trainer of trainers. Currently, she is the Executive Director and CEO of the Auditory-Verbal Center of Atlanta and Founding President of Ravenspeaks, Inc., “A Resource for Authentic Personal & Professional Development”. Current contracts include Hazelden, Wisconsin Association on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and CDC. Ms. Ramirez has conducted trainings at numerous and varied conferences and agencies throughout the world. She also has published in the US and Europe and has received numerous awards.

Tracie R. Robinson, MA, is a certified dance and movement therapist with over 20 years of training in dance including modern, ballet, jazz, African and improvisation. She uses dance and movement to facilitate synergistic change during the course of structured and/or authentic movement, which allows one to express their personality and emotional concerns via a modality that incorporates the verbal aspects of psychotherapy through body language. With an ADTR (Academy of Dance Therapist Registered) license, Ms. Robinson trains, teaches, supervises and provides therapy in a private practice. She is also certified in providing specific movement therapy for cancer survivors. Ms. Robinson uses dance as a tool to bring about holistic healing in clinical populations including adult substance abusers, children with emotional and psychological trauma, geriatrics, survivors of sexual and/or physical abuse and people suffering from eating disorders and depression. She recently opened a private practice while continuing to provide services as a consultant for the Center for Mental Health, Inc., Anacostia Center for Psychotherapy and Counseling and various other agencies in the Washington, DC area.

Sherry Smith-Hampton, MSW, is currently the Assistant Director of Bienvenidos Family Services. Early in her career, her interest in the lives of her students as a secondary teacher led her to the field of social work. Her expertise and her passion lie in the direction of helping parents understand all aspects of child development and the importance of attachment and bonding in strengthening the family circle. In addition to her administrative duties, she continues to be involved in staff development through trainings and events that enhance service delivery to the families served by Bienvenidos.

Thea Sullivan, MFA, MAT, is a published poet and writer who has been teaching creative writing and personal growth workshops in the Bay Area for many years. Past venues have included The Writing Salon, The Delancey Street Foundation, The Academy of Art College and Unity Church. Her signature class, The Intuitive Voice, teaches participants to tap into the deep intelligence of their natural creativity. She has recently completed a nonfiction book entitled Swim the River: Writing and the Sacred Journey to the Center of Self.

Sweets S. Wilson, PhD, LADC, CDVCIII, is a clinical social worker, licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified domestic violence counselor with over fifteen years of experience in the field of clinical social work with children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Wilson provides psychotherapy in individual and group settings, conducts substance abuse evaluations and supervises clinical services with direct care staff. She also set up and directs a small independent counseling and substance abuse agency where she guides the efforts of other professionals. Dr. Wilson brings an understanding and holistic approach to the very difficult subject of spirituality, which all counseling and health care staff must ultimately encounter.