What we’re about
At one time or another most of us experience a decent into hell- a depression, a loss, a divorce, a crime… We cannot solve the dark night, it is a period of suffering, pain, purifying intention, a journey none of us wants to take. Nonetheless, it is a necessary journey in order to carry on.
Whether you’re suffering from regular bouts of anxiety and depression, or you want to fortify and rebuild strained marital and familial relationships, step back is a break from your regular familiar environment and into the arena with the problem itself. We spend our time in nature: hiking, sailing, kayaking, paddling, cycling, on Amelia Island, and nearby Cumberland Island National Seashore.
By removing ourselves from the familiar we can go into nature with the intention to do some intensive inner work. We block out forty 40 hours in a weeks’ time to move from problem to possibility. In other words we extrapolate some wisdom from the wreckage, and learn to live with our wounding while walking our limp with a little panache. When the storms of life surround and threaten you, and fight or flight give takes over. This is an opportunity to step out of the familiar and dedicate some intensive time to do the necessary inner work in order to carry on.
I remember during my divorce wanting to get as far away as possible from things. I did, only having to confront the issues/problem upon my return home, none the wiser, no more informed or decisive than when I left. It was during this time I said to myself I need to go away for some intensive inner work, one on one with a counselor for a defined period of time and make a decision. So it is with this in mind I offer a one on one, 1/1 one (1) week, usually a day for travel and 6 days of personal work to assist your in getting back in the saddle and moving forward in life once again.
With a specialty in experiential retreats and the restoration of true self, I provide intensive one on one, forty (40) hours of therapy in a weeks’ time to assist you to step back from the ledge and restore and revive your health.
As this involves a good bit of logistics and I usually only carry a small select client load of 6 six client’s per week who I see hourly.
I schedule this program to meet your needs and budget. You can stay on the Island in a five star hotel, like Plantation Resort, or a fifty to sixty dollar a night clean hotel, a bed and breakfast, or camp in beautiful fort Clinch State Park $16 per night. I’ll discuss all this, and other logistics with you after our initial phone, skype, or FaceTime meeting. The cost of this program is fifteen hundred dollars $1500 for the week of therapy and outdoor experiences. Your accommodations, food, and transportation are your arrangements; which I will gladly assist you with. The meals exception being our first and last meals which are on me. If this sounds like it could be of use to you. Call me to set up a time for further evaluation/discussion. Thanks and hang in there!
That sweet night: a secret,
Nobody saw me;
I did not see a thing.
No other light, no other guide
Than the one burning in my heart.
John of the Cross (transl. Mirabai Starr)
Amelia Island Aerial Tour
Neighboring Cumberland Island
Our “no surrender retreat program”, step back from the ledge, a 40 hour intensive for those confronting: depression, divorce, addiction, and various trying life transitions.
The Retreat program focus specifically on the needs of the client, their role in society, and their family dynamics. We offer a private, comfortable, emotional sanctuary. If you need help, or have a loved one who does, this retreat can help start you on that journey.
This is a program who want their lives to be different. The program is specially designed for each client after consultation to help them manage the issues you confront. For example: alcohol and medication challenges, depression, emotional trauma, bipolar disorder, and anxiety and mood disorders. This have often bogged us down.
Our purpose is to provide you with the tools you need to feel safe, accepted, complete, self-confident, valuable and comfortable in your own skin through skilled coaching, counseling and self-management. Healing will naturally come from this acceptance. You will eventually resolve your issues, and integrate physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
The starting point for is that motivation for change is malleable and formed in the context of relationship
Guiding more than directing, dancing rather than wrestling. An active collaborative partnership between client and coach. Each person has personal goals, values, and aspirations and dreams However to become stuck, derailed, ambivalent is the predicament of life for most. However if one can resist the righting reflex and acknowledge the others right and choice not to change this sometimes makes change possible. I then seek to understand and explore the clients own motivations, to listen and empower the client while encouraging hope and optimism there is a simple acronym for this RULE: Resist, Understand, Listen and Empower.
When a client takes an active interest, role and action in their well-being they become empowered consultants and authors of their own lives and how best to accomplish the behavior change they desire.
YOU'RE A LUCKY, PLUCKY GENIUS
You are constitutionally incapable of adapting nicely to the sour and
crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." You're too
amazingly, blazingly insane for that.
You're too crazy smart to lust after the stupidest secrets of the game of
life. You're too seriously delirious to wander sobbing through the sterile,
perfumed labyrinth looking in vain for the most ultra-perfect mirror.
You'll never get crammed in a neat little niche in the middle of the road at
the end of a nightmare. You refuse to allow your soul's bones to get
ground down into dust and used to fertilize the killing fields that proudly
dot the ice cream empire of monumentally demeaning luxuries.
You're too brilliantly cracked for that. You're too ingeniously whacked.
You're too ineffably godsmacked.
To assist client’s to move from problems to possibilities.
My therapeutic orientation is guided by some core beliefs:
There is no ah ha! Experience, no green grassy meadow, no satori, no sudden illumination, no magic pill… Life’s is a changing and challenging game, with it comes some necessary suffering. As both Christ and the Buddah reminded us. Life is suffering the key is to differentiate between necessary, and unnecessary suffering. Of course easy in theory but takes work. It is our insistence that lifes situations not be they are. That is to “rage against what it”, the “issness” in hope it will change. We need to develop the wisdom to know, what we can, and cannot change, and then adjust our energies appropriately.
In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr,
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Simple words/imperative, yet a lifetime of wisdom to attain.
Behavior is observable – any action taken without taking the whole picture into account cannot serve us. Because the lack of causes and conditions involved results in unreasonable and impractical results. Afflictive results arise from false conceptions, and do nothing other than obscure reality. When we generate anger ninety percent of the ugliness of the object of our anger is due to our own exaggeration and projection. In order to perceive the actual situation, we have to quit voluntarily submitting to afflictive emotions as they will obstruct the perception of facts (observable behavior).
From Blackwood Education: Dedicated to empowering and inspiring people to pursue happiness. With education comes awareness, and awareness brings a better understanding of our choices, which in turn supports our ability to make more informed decisions. Our ability to make informed decisions is a key component of being happy.
Who we choose to be in relationship with is one of the most important decisions we make in our lifetime, especially who we pick for a life partner. Our relationships give our lives meaning, purpose, and—if we’ve chosen well—a deep, abiding, renewing happiness.
FINDING TIME FOR HAPPINESS
“Being happy” is getting a lot of attention these days. In the context of our relationships, there are undeniable signs that we don’t do a very good job with it, and maybe that’s partly because no one really offers much instruction on how to do it or what it looks like. Parents are working, busy, distracted, and tired. Teachers don’t have time in their curriculum. Those beer commercials are a tad incomplete. It is assumed we’ll just figure it out on our own as we go along, and by the time we might think to ask about it, well, it’s embarrassing. Rather than risk embarrassment—or some other uncomfortable feeling—we tell ourselves it’ll “just happen,” “one day,” after I finish school or get a job or find the right person or buy a house or have kids or lose 20 pounds........or we might tell ourselves that being happy is overrated, not in the cards, or just plain too much effort.
Enough with the stories! We can learn about being happy. We can gain insight into the components of a happy life. We can make more informed life decisions with an eye to staying on the path of happiness. We can apply our understanding of being happy across our lives—school, work, play, and community—and, at the very heart of it all, our relationships.
Enter Dr. Gordon Livingston’s mighty little book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience—you read just the right book at just the right time, the proverbial lightbulb goes on, and a bucket of clarity lands in your lap. On page 78, Dr. Livingston mentions one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, “Kodachrome,” and quotes that well-known first line: “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” Dr. Livingston is making a point about what he suggests is an educational problem: “In the midst of such marginally relevant courses as trigonometry, industrial arts, and the ever-popular ‘health,’ one searches in vain for a course in human personality and behavior that contains useful information on how to avoid catastrophic mistakes in one’s choice of friends and lovers.”
A few lines later, Dr. Livingston writes: “I could envision a curriculum constructed around the general topic ‘The pursuit of happiness.’” There it was. I got busy and created The Pursuit of Happiness: A Classroom Curriculum, using Dr. Livingston’s book as the framework and text for the course.
I wrote the course with high school seniors in mind, but the curriculum lends itself to many settings and situations: residential education programs in college dorms; all-boy/all-girl schools; counseling situations for individuals, small groups, or couples considering marriage; homeschooling; adult education; summer camps; book clubs; individuals who are looking for some guidance and structure beyond just reading Dr. Livingston’s book on their own. And just as the curriculum is not limited to high school students, the Teacher’s Guide is not just for teachers—anyone can use both the Teacher’s Guide and the Journey Workbook. On your own, the Journey Workbook might be all you want as a companion to Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, and it was designed with this in mind, but the Teacher’s Guide will support a more comprehensive and thorough learning experience. For example, the Teacher’s Guide highlights key points and contains homework samples, quizzes and answer keys, the final exam, movie suggestions, and more.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Are you happy? Are you the person you want to be? Are you or someone you know struggling with a relationship? The Pursuit of Happiness curriculum is built on the premise that, with more awareness and understanding of personality and behavior, traits and patterns, we can be happier in general and happier in our relationships in particular. Mistakes are inevitable, “perfection” is not the goal; it’s about doing a better job with our relationships. If the upshot is more happiness, then what are you waiting for?
An interesting article from one of my favorites
Things you need to know about psychotherapy from Dr. Gordon Livingston
Posted July 13, 2014
I’m sometimes asked by patients, “Why should one person pay another for conversation?” I tell people “That’s a good question.” Then I try to change the subject because I realize that the only answers I can come up with are, “Because that’s the way this business works.” Or “Do I come to your office and ask whether what you’re doing is useful?” Sometimes I’m forced to make up answers like, “Scientific studies have shown that unhappy people become less unhappy if they tell a socially designated healer their most embarrassing secrets.” I’m not sure this is true, but very few patients are in a position to contradict it.
Sometimes I fall back on a question of my own: “Don’t you think we ought to discuss your resistance to therapy?” This approach usually works even if I have to explain the concept of “resistance” that makes it sound like part of the larger psychological problem that caused the patient to make this appointment in the first place. Erickson described this technique as “putting the patient in his or her place.”
Another question I hate is, “How long do you think this therapy is going to take?” How would I know? So I say, “Probably quite a while if you’re going to be asking the questions, which I thought you understood was my job.” At this point I usually glance at my watch and am amazed that we have only been talking for 10 minutes when it feels like it’s been at least half an hour.
Questions about such things as credentials, experience, and “therapeutic orientation” are similar time-wasters. Some patients wonder why I have no diplomas from prestigious institutions on my office walls. I tell them I don’t want to brag about my background, but there are always a few who wonder if I’ve had any training at all. Some even notice that they are sitting on a chair that is a little lower than the one I occupy and are full of “interpretations” about what I might be thinking about our relative importance.
If people are having trouble with members of their family, they sometimes ask intrusive questions about my own family situation, as if my not being married or having kids disqualifies me from giving them advice on these subjects. Have they never heard of priests? Male obstetricians? Everybody can’t have done everything, for God’s sake.
Speaking of God, some patients want me to describe my religious beliefs and are not satisfied with my standard “spiritual but not religious” self-description. Really, is the fact that I decline to live my life guided by the rules in some ancient text relevant here?
Some patients think that I’m going to give them a prescription that will relieve all their symptoms. I’m actually a big fan of medication. Unfortunately, I’m unable to prescribe most of the drugs that I have found useful in my personal pursuit of happiness and most people seem squeamish about traveling to east Baltimore to purchase them on their own. The medicines that I am allowed to prescribe don’t work nearly as well or as rapidly as those available on any street corner in any large city. AND the legal stuff comes with unfortunate side effects such as impotence or erections that last for hours. (Take your choice.)
After years of watching Oprah, Dr. Phil, and their ilk hold forth on how to live the perfect life, it’s not surprising that lots of people show up with distorted ideas about what psychotherapy is really like. Even when I give them rock-solid advice based on years of experience, patients tend to argue and question nearly everything I say in a way that they wouldn’t dare do on national TV.
Finally, people expect you to “listen.” This is OK in the rare event that their stories are interesting, but at the first sign that your attention may be wandering, like when you momentarily fall asleep, everyone gets upset and starts questioning your interest in them or the usefulness of another appointment. I usually ask, “Am I the only person in your life who finds you boring?”
More on our Intensive 40 hour Retreat
What is this? Intensive retreat for introspection and focused inner work to assist you to move from problem to possibilities. To get unstuck and carry on, and get back in the saddle.
Step back from the ledge.
Is a unique program offering specialized therapy and counseling in a pristine, beautiful environment, located in the outskirts of Amelia Island, Florida, and neighboring Cumberland Island National Seashore. Whether you need a short session, or an extended retreat, we’re here for you.
Copyright © John Mahoney MA, NCC (National Certified Counselor #56600) - 2016 | All Rights Reserved.