FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
1. WHAT IS THE HEAL FOR LIFE FOUNDATION?
Heal For Life operates innovative, affordable Healing Retreats for adults, adolescents, and children who have experienced childhood trauma. Heal For Life foundation is a not-for-profit organisation and is located on a peaceful property at Quorrobolong NSW. Our aim is to empower people to heal from childhood trauma and abuse, within a program based on safety, peace, equality, integrity and unconditional love for all survivors. Heal For Life Foundation is run by survivors for survivors. We believe we all have the capacity to heal.
To our Indigenous brothers and sisters: in NSW, you’ll be out of country, in Darkinung land, blessed by elders.
2. WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM A HEALING WEEK?
The vast majority of people suffering from anxiety, depression, eating disorders or any mental illness can benefit from a healing week. Over 90% of our guests report our program as being life-changing or very positive. Nearly 6,000 people from all walks of life discover how to heal themselves from childhood trauma.. The Healing Week program is designed to be an important step on your healing journey, and we encourage you to use the tools you learn to continue healing when you return home.
Importantly, the program works best if you are able to be free from commitments and are in good health. For your safety, we recommend you postpone attending a Healing Week, and access medical or psychological care, if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Debilitating side-effects of medication
- Extreme life crises or stressful events, such as homelessness or very recent separation from a partner
- A very recent trauma (i.e. within the last 3 months) which has not been yet been addressed
- Alcohol or drug dependency / or severe withdrawals
- Severe symptoms of mental illness or intellectual impairment that mean you are unable to function with a group or take care of yourself
- If you have had recent trauma, an injury, have just come out of hospital or another treatment facility, have an unstable medical condition or have medical/dental surgery due
3. WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE HEALING WEEK?
The purpose of the Healing Week program is to provide a safe environment to help you get in touch with and heal your inner self, the part of you that suffered from trauma as a child. Our main focus is providing you with the tools that can help you heal from specific traumatic events in childhood, events that you may, or may not currently remember.
Our highly successful program has developed from combining the latest scientific research on the effects of trauma on the brain with knowledge gathered from many survivors over time. We will share with you what we know and support you to ‘heal’ yourself. Please know you do not need to have prior knowledge about healing from trauma in order to benefit from our program. We believe that all survivors intuitively know what they need to do to heal from childhood trauma. You will be encouraged to trust in your own wisdom and do what feels RIGHT FOR YOU.
Many survivors experience a sense of freedom and empowerment when they discover that they CAN heal. They come to a deeper understanding, appreciation and love of themselves. They feel validated and acknowledged by others, often for the first time in their lives. Participating in a loving community also helps survivors build self-esteem, self-respect and a renewed feeling of self-worth. We’ve discovered the program works best when you are doing it FOR YOU, and no one else. How much you achieve from the Healing Week will usually depend on how much you are willing to enter into it.
4. HOW LONG WILL MY STAY BE?
Our Adult Healing Week program runs from 5pm Sunday until 3.30pm Friday. Please arrive between 4pm-4.30pm on Sunday to settle in and be ready for a 5pm start. If you have a last-minute emergency or you are running late on the Sunday please phone the facilitator as the program cannot start without you. After the program ends at 3.30 pm Friday you will need to travel home, or find overnight accommodation in the local or metropolitan areas.
5. WHO WILL I BE SHARING THE WEEK WITH?
Each week we welcome a maximum of 12 guests from across the country. You will be supported by a trained facilitator and at least 3 trained volunteer carers. Usually the weeks are run with both men and women.
6. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE FACILITATOR AND PEER SUPPORT VOLUNTEERS?
The facilitator’s key role is to provide overall leadership and responsibility for the group. The facilitator works alongside the peer support volunteers to listen to, encourage and support you in your healing program. They are also a survivor of childhood trauma and/or abuse who has qualifications and experience with our healing program. Each facilitator has an in-depth understanding of the Heal For Life Model, and a strong commitment to their own healing journey.
Our program operates on a peer support model. Our peer support volunteers (PSV’s) are survivors who have lovingly chosen to support you in your healing program. They give their time very generously. After attending a healing week, they decided to become a peer support volunteer. This involved completing a comprehensive training program. Many of our PSV’s are currently studying at a tertiary level or are already working as health professionals.
Please understand that Heal For Life Foundation provides healing retreats. We cannot and do not diagnose, give advice or provide prescriptions.
7. HOW MUCH TIME WILL I SPEND WITH OTHER PEOPLE?
Heal For Life Foundation offers you the opportunity to live in a true, loving community, and to build friendships with other survivors. Living in community means you will be sharing a room with a maximum of 2 others and bathroom facilities with up to 5 other people in your cabin; preparing, eating and clearing away main meals together. You will work together around the property each day for 1.5 hours during Labour of Love; and support each other to create a safe place for all members of the group. How much you choose to share with other guests is up to you, however, please know the focus of the week is not to ‘swap stories’ but to spend time focusing within, feeling your feelings and healing in your own way. Your private journey will be totally unique. There is ‘Free Time’ in the afternoons and evenings.
8. WHAT HAPPENS EACH DAY?
After you arrive, you will meet the other guests and carers and be shown around so you become familiar with the retreat. Everyone will share dinner together, get to know each other, discuss what to expect from the Healing Week and review the safety agreements. This is the usual timetable
8:30 am Reflections (A time for spiritual reflection and exploring our needs for the day).
9:30 am Labour of Love (Time to give back to the community through work. You will be encouraged to do what fits your feelings, not what you think you should do!)
11:00 am Inner Child Workshop A chance to connect with your inner-self and your emotions).
1:30 pm Lunch (Prepared by two or three guests and a carer during Labour of Love).
2:00 pm Free Time
3:30 pm Workshop
5:30 pm Sharing (A time to practice acknowledging your feelings, with the group, in a safe environment).
7:00 pm Dinner (Prepared by two or three guests and carers).
7:30 pm Free Time
8:30 pm Evening Reflections
9. HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MY HEALING WEEK?
Please know it is very normal to feel frightened, excited, unsure, or indecisive before your visit. We suggest you be loving and gentle with yourself in the days leading up to your visit. Acknowledge that you are immensely brave and courageous in deciding to come and it is natural to feel anxious. The fact that you have made the decision to come means you are ready to undertake this part of your healing journey.
We advise checking the weather for the time you are here to help plan the clothing you will need to bring. It can get cold during autumn so bringing warmer clothes are recommended (jumper, jacket or cardigan and long pants). Unfortunately we do not having washing facilities so please bring enough clothes for your time away. If driving you may also like to bring a favourite blanket or doona for the cooler months. There are blankets supplied but guests who feel the cold often prefer to bring their own.
On the registration form we suggest you note down what your intentions are for the week and set some simple goals for yourself. Also, please think ahead about support for yourself AFTER the Healing Week. It is very helpful to plan some time-off for a few days following your healing week. It is nurturing if you can spend some quiet time absorbing the events of the week. Arranging a baby-sitter for an extra day or two, or making sure you don’t have to go back to work straight away can be very therapeutic!
10. WHAT ABOUT MEDICATIONS?
We are NOT a medical or mental health facility and cannot be responsible for administering medication or other medical care. In the case of an emergency, our team are trained in first aid and if necessary an ambulance can be called. If you have had recent trauma, an injury, have just been in hospital, have an unstable medical condition or have medical/dental surgery due, please postpone your Healing Week until you have fully recovered.
If you are taking medication please do not bring all of it. Just bring enough for your travel to and from Heal for Life and what you need during the week (eg. Epipen, paracetamol, antibiotics, prescription medications, asthma puffers, cough/cold tablets or allergy tablets). PLEASE DO NOT come off prescription medication without medical supervision before coming here or during your stay. If you are suffering severe side-effects from medication and/or you are finding it difficult to ‘feel’ anything, it may be better to postpone your visit until your dosage is at a level where you can feel your emotions. Any questions about your medication should be discussed with your GP.
11. CAN FRIENDS OR FAMILY CALL ME DURING THE WEEK?
It’s helpful to let family and friends know they will not be able to phone you during the week unless there is an emergency. If someone calls to ask if you are here we will not confirm your attendance to anyone other than your nominated emergency contact person. In the case of an emergency people can call our office on 02 4998 6003 and leave a message which we will pass on to you.
12. WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I RETURN HOME?
Everyone is different but you may find you feel happier and lighter than usual. You may also feel tired and emotional after a healing week. That’s because emotional healing can be exhausting work. It is very important to be gentle with yourself. We strongly recommend you take a minimum of a 2 day break from work and social commitments following your Healing Week, so that you can receive the maximum benefit from the program. We also encourage you to wait some time after your Healing Week before making any important life-changing decisions unless absolutely necessary. It may feel a little strange to go back to family and friends. You may have changed and it’s important to appreciate that they may need time to get used to the “new you”.
13. IS THERE ANY ONGOING SUPPORT?
If you would like it, the facilitator will phone you two weeks after your healing week. Follow up support is offered by your own counselor or we can suggest counselors who have been to Heal For Life or have been recommended by other guests. We can also recommend a psychologist who uses Skype to call her clients. We strongly recommend you organise support for the week after your healing week. Make an advance booking to see a counsellor/psychologist/mental health worker, attend a support group or catch up with a supportive friend If you already have a counsellor or psychologist we recommend you let them know you are attending a healing week. We are happy to provide your counsellor and/or GP with information about our Heal For Life model.
If you don’t have a counsellor, and would like one, the facilitator will help you to identify professional support in your area before you leave us.
As a Heal For Life Community member you will receive a monthly email update, we also have a very active Facebook page for peer support and encouragement. Part of joining the community is giving back to help others in whatever way you are able to.
You may return to repeat the program as many times as you need to. However, we ask that you give yourself about 3 months between visits to allow yourself time to adjust to the changes that healing brings to you and your life.
14. SPIRITUALITY AND GENDER AWARENESS
We welcome people whatever their sexual orientation, culture or Spiritual beliefs. We will not impose our beliefs on any guest. Nor will we judge anyone who attends our programs. All we ask is that you come with a willingness to heal and an openness of heart towards the other guests.
- Decide which week you want to come (look at NSW or WA Dates on our website or call the office)
- Complete the online registration and payment
- Wait for confirmation from our office BEFORE arranging leave/time off work or making any travel arrangements
Once your registration and payment is processed a confirmation letter will be sent to you. It will advise the items you need to bring for your healing week and will include a map and directions to the Heal For Life Foundation.