Avalon Hills in Paradise, Utah; an Oasis for Healing
To speak on behalf of Avalon HIlls is to speak on the significance of kindness and patience in a recovery setting. Throughout my time at Avalon, I received an abundance of time and attention geared towards recovery; my days were filled with numerous forms of therapeutic modalities, and there were minimal distractions. The treatment team constructs the program to be adaptable and flexible to the milieu, so it’s in the best interest of the clients whom are present. Avalon’s mission was both to treat the eating disorder (ED) directly, as well as spend ample time and energy on laying a solid foundation for life after an ED.
Avalon Hills (AH) takes a multidimensional approach to health by combining cutting edge neuroscience research and mindfulness practices with physical and psychological healthcare and education. Most importantly for me at the time was an emphasis on the subtle art of well-being, as this was lost in the depths of my eating disorder. A significant portion of the day was spent outside of therapy (individual and group), meals and meal support, neurofeedback, and scheduled physical activities and outings, so experimenting and discovering what I liked to do and how I liked to spend my time outside of things related to my body and food intake was key to laying a foundation for discharge. The program is incredibly well designed to treat the full spectrum of eating disorders, and to do it simultaneously, as everyone’s eating disorder is unique to them and their own personal history, and we (the clients) needed to learn how to be supportive while developing healthy boundaries.
So many of the women came to AH because other treatment centers just didn’t work or give them what they needed, and AH was the antidote for this. Avalon Hills provided strict rules and guidelines that were imperative for symptom interruption and made it impossible to use ED behaviors without the awareness of the treatment team. While this is a daunting reality, it is essential to recovery, as it ensures that no one is fully discharged who is still actively engaged in eating disorder behaviors. Symptom interruption is only the first stage of recovery at Avalon, to which there are 3 more stages that the individual must undergo before the treatment team agrees that the individual is ready to be discharged. Therefore, no matter how strong someone’s eating disorder is the clients, including myself, were grateful for this degree of surveillance, because it was truly coming from a place of care to ensure the client’s long-term success.
Throughout my time at Avalon I was introduced to a wide variety of resources to aid in my personal recovery process, which nourished the part of me that needed individualized treatment without negating the essentials of being treated in the group setting. AH provided me with community at a time in my life when I felt utterly alone; an invaluable gift. Not to mention, everyone employed by Avalon HIlls has an incredible ability to be professional and respectful without compromising their individuality. The staff modeled positive relationships to food and their body, which was healing to witness, and reassured me I was safe and in good hands. Having a mix of people around aided in the process of neutralizing the fear, guilt, and shame I had been grappling with regarding having food and body image concerns in the form of a full blown eating disorder, as I was treated like a human being without being stigmatized by people who do not share these same struggles. Even though I was struggling with an eating disorder, the treatment team still made it a priority to listen to me and my requests and facilitate communication to the individual and the collective. I really benefited from the treatment, because it was tailored to my specific needs, and it empowered me to find and use my voice for the better. They challenged me when I needed it most and helped me distinguish when my eating disorder was present versus my wise mind. This tool of discernment I utilize on a daily basis in recovery, and it is woven into the fabric of treatment at Avalon Hills.
While at Avalon HIlls I had ample time to reflect on the past, dream of the future, and fully drop into the present moment. The program was designed extremely well to allow the client the time, space, and resources necessary to integrate their mental and physical awareness; another imperative aspect of recovery. It was by no means an easy process, and there was a lot of fear, but I was able to rest assured with trust in the process when I saw and felt how knowledgeable and experienced the staff were. The staff challenged, supported, listened, and empowered me, which were 4 of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
Being at Avalon HIlls planted the seeds of returning to this field as a professional, because I felt first hand how powerful and integral this healing work truly is. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for the opportunities that have opened up to me as I’ve embarked on the path of recovery. All of this is possible because of Avalon Hills and the work they do to provide top of the line care with a well-rounded approach. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on my experience at Avalon Hills and return to skills and tools that I acquired throughout my time there to aid me in daily life. I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better place than Paradise, Utah to return to what matters most – Life.
Billie, former adult patient