Wellness in a Culture of Addiction

What you will learn
This year’s conference will explore the metaphysical, the spiritual, the mundane, the somatic, the metaphorical and the ceremonial aspects of addiction, liberation and healing.

Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing 
Was the eye of the blackbird.

–Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

Just as Wallace Stevens took 13 turns around the mystical Blackbird in an ef- fort to behold its essence, at this conference we are taking 20 turns around the seemingly in nite mysteries of “Addiction”. Addiction is terribly simple and utterly incomprehensible. It is the ultimate tragic aw, and perhaps the most natural. It lies in Spirit and in the gutter, in the casino and in the heart. It spares no demographic: it is a teacher and a destroyer. It is the great hole in the road that we all can see from a mile away, yet we fall in anyway…

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

During this conference, we will consider not only drugs and alcohol, but sex, gambling, love, eating and all the creative ways we feed the Hungry Ghost. We will call in the wisdom and insights of Art, Science, the Brain, the Gut, Writing, Ceremony, the Medicine Wheel and the Soul.

This conference is not about “Them” – it is about “Us.”

Come prepared for transformation.

Come meet the Blackbird.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat In the cedar-limbs.

About Transformation and Healing Conference

The Annual Transformation and Healing Conference, presented by the New Earth Institute of SWC, offers low cost CECs to counselors, art therapists and social workers as well as the community at large.  Under the guidance of Vice President, Katherine Ninos, Southwestern College has offered its annual Transformation and Healing Conference since 1981. Every year, amazing and transformational teachers, healers and elders have graced this event (see below) offering training and experience with cutting edge therapies and ancient rituals. As part of our institutional commitment to service in our community, the Transformation and Healing Conference provides a forum for regionally and nationally known practitioners to share their work, and for our community to benefit from such a convocation of wisdom carriers.

Keynote Presenters

Lee Cartwright

Presenter - SOLD OUT

    Gabor Maté

    Keynote Presenter - SOLD OUT


      9:00am – 12:00pm
      The Power of Presence by Robert Waterman

      We mold who we think we are on the surface of consciousness. When we believe that the world power, in whatever form, is greater than soul power, we forget our true self and live by strategies that protect our false self. Our challenge is to choose whether the surface of our consciousness is owned by the world or by our soul. When we are conscious in the depth of presence, we see clearly the true and the false and choose transforming outcomes which then re exively appear in the world. We will sort the many ways we distract ourselves from depth and explore how to live in the power of presence. Trust the design. Love will have its way.

      Robert Waterman

      Often referred to as "the silent addiction", compulsive gambling is on the rise in New Mexico and across the US with the rise in gambling availability. While all addictions share the trait of "compulsivity", each addiction has its own specific distinguishing characteristics. In this workshop we will explore the nature of compulsive gambling and where gamblers get stuck in the process of gambling and why. We will also explore methods, approaches and therapist mindset to unlock the mystery of the gambler's behavior and support their transformation through consciousness.

      Brian Miller

      This workshop will address the most effective treatment methods for clinicians who are either new to the profession, or for those wanting to learn more. Eating disorder symptoms will be discussed, including determining the criteria for higher levels of care. The applications of various treatment methods will be demonstrated both didactically and experientially for participants to gain experience in using the methods. Tools and skills, complete with handouts, will be offered to attendees who wish to use them immediately in their own practices.

      Holly Finlay

      In this workshop, Medicine Wheel teachings will be presented with special emphasis on how addictions develop and can be healed. Indigenous perspectives on the healing of addictive behaviors and their relevance for the contemporary practice of psychotherapy will be shared. Practices based on Medicine Wheel teachings will be experienced, and their application with the addicted client will be discussed.

      Carol Parker

      The Adolescent Substance Use Reduction Effort (ASURE) is conceived as a comprehensive and compassionate approach to address youth substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, and is one of the focal points for CYFD’s Behavioral Health Services. ASURE is a youth-centric outside-the-box conceptual framework to understand and effect change in young people, and is a contemporary paradigm for holistic approaches for working with youth. This workshop will describe both clinical and administrative services and supports, the critical elements of engagement, alliance and rapport; linking and bonding supports; cultural and gender competencies; stage-wise interventions; motivations; trauma informed practice and performance evaluations. Discussions will center on desirable skills for youth and young adults' successful transition to adulthood.

      Michael Hock

      In this workshop we will travel together through a visual and experiential art therapy journey focused on trauma recovery and addiction treatment. The goal of this workshop is to increase awareness of the connection between trauma and addiction using art therapy. The range of addictions addressed in treatment scenarios will include alcohol, drugs, sex, love, relationships, money, self-harm and work. We will engage in experiential art therapy exercises to explore the correlation between addiction and trauma, and discuss ways in which we can effectively guide clients in their recovery journeys. We will look at how individuals and groups utilize art therapy directives from early recovery to thriving in recovery.

      Alisha Shelbourn
      9:00am - 12:00pm
      EcoPsychology – Part I: Ceremony Transforming Addiction into Relatedness by Scott Thomas

      Tribal thought processes and social organization o er clear solutions for healing imbalance, addiction and fixation in today’s world. EcoPsychology emerges from ancient tribal wisdom and the very roots of humanity offering a new path after the failure of diagnosis and the pharmaceutical suppression of symptoms. We will discuss the foundation blocks of ceremonial consciousness to construct a doorway for developing a positive sense of belonging and connectedness with the natural world. We will explore how tribal thought and values held in ceremony increase security and attachment and heal trauma. We will engage together as a tribe in an ancient prescribed relatedness ceremony to form deeper bonds between each other, nature and our ancestors. Participants may enroll in Part I without enrolling in Part 2.

      Scott Thomas

      This workshop helps clinicians discover clients’ goals for therapy as well as understanding the coping strategy they used to stay safe in their family/culture of origin. When addiction to a particular way of being limits a client’s ability to live as they wish, they seek help. As commitment is made to change the behavioral pattern, clients are warned that their primitive brain will tell them not to change it. Anxiety will escalate. Strategies to handle the anxiety will be demonstrated and practiced. In addition, we will notice how coping strategies manifest in the body.

      Alice K. Ladas

      MBEP is a mindful, body-centered approach to activating intrinsic emotional processing in the brain. The processing is activated and maintained by the client’s and therapist’s mindful, Felt Sense Attention upon the client’s somatic experience. The focus of tender, compassionate awareness creates a specific quality of attention which activates a healing process within the client. MBEP accesses the brain and nervous system’s intrinsic capacity to process emotional experience and memory by focusing and stimulating the brain’s right-hemisphere functions. MBEP is a practical, useful method for initiating and promoting essential emotional processing. Participants will learn the basic psychological and neurological components of MBEP and will have the opportunity for a personal experience with MBEP.

      Robert Weisz

      All human cultures were originally earth-based with an awareness of the embedded nature of human life with all other life forms. Many childhood experiences involve this sense of relationship with animals, trees, stones, etc. This session will utilize memory, metaphor, outdoor experience, and writing as an exploratory method to remember and re-integrate our fundamental connections with life. Opportunities for nurture and repair are available through deepening our awareness of our inter-relationship with the Earth and by deepening our ability to consciously access this connection. This afternoon workshop will build on knowledge and experience shared in the morning session. Participants may enroll in Part 2 without enrolling in Part 1 if they choose.

      Ann Filemyr

      “Life,” writes Carotenuto (1989), “conspires to arouse us”. As such, much of our work in psychotherapy involves wrestling with the most intense and often overwhelming human experiences: love and suffering. Love can give meaning to an entire lifetime and it can also be the source of our most agonizing despair. Falling in love can often be experienced as something akin to possession, inspiring a force or energy that has little regard for normalcy, predictability, or even sanity. This workshop explores the obsessive, addictive and transformative properties of love and explores variations of the falling in love experience--between mother and child, guru and devotee, lover and beloved, addict and substance.

      Ginna Clark

      In this workshop, participants will explore some of the most prominent theories and research in the eld of addictions and recovery. Areas of overlap between evidence-based practices, mindfulness-based modalities, as well as nature-based and spiritual approaches, will be explored. Participants will participate in an exercise to assist them in formulating an integrated approach that can be utilized in their particular settings. This workshop will be linked to the New Earth Institute’s Transforming Addictions Certificate program.

      Brian Serna
      9:00am - 12:00pm
      Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions by Rahima Schmall

      How many of us have tried to overcome an addiction by sheer will power? For how long is it effective? Twelve Step programs recognize that freedom from any addiction comes from a turning of “our will and life over to the care of God as we understand Him.” For many, the process of letting go and opening the heart to the divine gift of grace feels impossible. And yet it is what gives us the ability to be in the world unfettered by attachments to substances or actions that do not truly serve us. In this workshop, participants will gain skills in how to let go of the fears and beliefs that keep us from our deep connection to God and experience how this connection is the key to healing addictive patterns and behaviors.

      Rahima Schmall

      This workshop will explore how childhood wounding sets the stage for the fear of intimacy that underlies sexual compulsivity. Participants will gain an understanding that sexual addiction is a brain-based disorder that affects the body, mind, and spirit of the addicted person and can have devastating effects on loved ones, particularly spouses. We will explore how internal compartmentalization, rationalization, and denial work to minimize shame, fear and guilt while keeping the addicted person engaged in a life of deception. A discussion of how the pornography industry lures vulnerable youth and adults to seek safety and self-soothing through objectification and fantasy will be discussed. Strategies and creative processes will be introduced to help addicted persons and their loved ones open channels of communication to foster empathy and intimacy.

      Carrie Ishee

      During intrauterine life, the umbilical cord is the source of nutrition, and a link to the psycho- emotional biology of the mother. The nutrition required by the prenate to grow and thrive comes mixed with the hormones and neurotransmitters of the mother’s emotional state. The prenate makes choices around opening to, or rejecting, nourishment. This sets up lifelong pat- terns which can lead to an ever-present hunger–the root of addiction. This presentation will o er an overview of the 'umbilical effect' on our ability to regulate experiences, addiction and the capacity to live a fully embodied life. We will include the Window of Tolerance Model and engage in an experiential exercise to sense how we might resolve these issues within a somatic model.

      Emma Simmons

      If the opposite of addiction is connection, then both client and therapist must become more connectable. Yet addictive process can constellate powerful patterns between therapist and client, as if both become possessed by the same gods, psychic forces, which have played out in addiction. Unconsciously enacting these patterns leads both client and therapist to narrow their views of one another, their options for interaction, and their creativity in working together. But brought into conscious awareness, these dynamics can loosen and shift, becoming a vehicle for the heavy lifting involved in long-term freedom. We’ll make use of mythological stories, dreams, and experiential process to explore some frequently-recurring relational patterns in work with addiction and how we might restore therapeutic movement.

      Jason Holley

      This workshop will outline how sexuality can get hijacked by early childhood experiences and lead to a spectrum of personal challenges that range from dangerous sex addiction to intimacy disorder. We will cover normal sexual development, then look at some very common hijackers that create early sexualization and long-term effects. These hijackers include overt sexual abuse and covert incest, to pornography and our current commercialized culture. We will explore how these influences and experiences can create arousal templates or aversions that interfere with true intimacy and healthy sexuality. We will also cover some helpful therapeutic interventions to support change and recovery for clients and ourselves from compassionate humanistic and cognitive-behavioral perspectives.

      Valerie Valentine

      How does an addict reclaim their will to become healthy? How does one find the courage to transform? Though elusive, healing begins with a commitment to feel and embrace our wounds. All addictions are rooted in trauma experiences and/or life crises that have never been loved, owned and integrated. Robin and The Sustainable Love healing team have developed Soul Alchemy ™, a spiritual healing process that activates an individual’s empowerment for the soul-body partnership. Through emotional/somatic energy processes and soul dialog, people recognize, acknowledge and receive the gift of their addictions as an aspect of the soul's growth. In this workshop we will learn about the principles of Soul Alchemy ™, have an experience of soul-partnership and empowerment, and have fun!

      Robin Duda
      The Guts to Stand Up for Yourself by Lee Cartwright - SOLD OUT

      The enteric nervous system is the intrinsic neurological network of the gastrointestinal tract, extending all the way from the esophagus down to the rectum. The enteric nervous system is often called the ‘second brain’ because it can actually override instructions from the brain in your skull. Even though the enteric nervous system contains more neurons than the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems combined, trauma models scarcely mention it. This is unfortunate because an optimally functioning ‘second brain’ is pivotal to breaking vicious cycles of trauma reenactment. It is often a gut-level awareness that provides the inspiration to take appropriate risks, to break away from the status quo, to change one’s life for the better. This workshop introduces the fundamental nature of the enteric nervous system, its role in trauma reenactment as well as practical exercises to make the ‘gut brain’ an invaluable resource in breaking trauma cycles – in truly providing 'the guts to stand up for yourself.'

      Lee Cartwright
      9:00 AM - 5:30 PM - SOLD OUT
      The Hungry Ghost: A Biospsychosocial Perspective on Addiction, from Heroin to Workaholism by Gabor Maté

      In his bestselling book, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Dr. Maté shows that addictions do not represent a discrete set of medical disorders; rather, they merely reflect the extreme end of a continuum of addiction, mostly hidden, that runs throughout our society. In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts draws on cutting-edge science to illuminate where and how addictions originate and what they have in common.
      Contrary to what is often claimed, the source of addictions is not to be found in genes, but in the early childhood environment where the neurobiology of the brain's reward pathways develops and the where the emotional patterns that lead to addiction are wired into the unconscious. Stress, both then and later in life, creates the predisposition for addictions, whether to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or to behavioral addictions such as shopping or sex.
      Helping the addicted individual requires that we appreciate the function of the addiction in his or her life. More than a disease, the addiction is a response to a distressing life history and life situation. Once we recognize the roots of addiction and the lack it strives (in vain) to fill, we can develop a compassionate approach toward the addict, one that stands the best chance of restoring him or her to wholeness and health.
      Some of the Topics Covered:

      1. What is the source of addictions?

      2. What happens chemically and physiologically in the brains of people with substance dependency or behaviour addiction?

      3. The false "blessings" of addiction as experienced by the addict;

      4. The development of the addicted mind: how early childhood experiences shape the brain;

      5. The social basis of addiction in economic, cultural and political dislocation and disempowerment;

      6. How much choice does the addict really have, and how much responsibility?

      7. Developing a therapeutic relationship in which healing is possible;

      8. How to encourage the addict to take responsibility;

      9.The prevention of addiction, both in adolescence and before.

      Gabor Maté

      Featured Events

      Workshop Registration
      • 3 CECs
      • Mon - Fri
      Keynote Registration - SOLD OUT
      • 7 CECs
      • Sunday 9am–5:30pm
      SOLD OUT
      Saturday Workshop - SOLD OUT
      • 3 CECs
      • Saturday 2pm–5pm
      SOLD OUT
      Weekday Workshops Location
      Saturday Workshop Location
      Sunday Keynote Location

      Toll-free 877.471.5756
      Direct 505.471.5756
      Fax 505.471.4071
      Email conference@swc.edu