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Founded in November 2000, From Chrysalis to Wings Psychotherapy and Research Center is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to provide counseling, support, information services, and educational programs for and on behalf of children and adults with malformation caused by birth defects or disfiguration of the body due to illness or trauma. We pride ourselves in developing supportive and therapeutic solutions for those who experience psychological and emotional problems due to these issues. This is also extended to families of this population, teachers, mental health professionals, the medical community, and the general public.
Our mission also includes providing counseling services to those who have these emotional problems at a low fee and in some cases, at no charge. This may include participation in activities such as workshops and retreats that are intended to increase self-esteem.
A.W.O.L. (A Way of Life...after the diagnosis) is our major program and is specifically designed for women who have or have had breast cancer. The central purpose of A.W.O.L. is to provide each woman with psychotherapeutic services needed to cope with her illness and to improve the quality of her life, which includes an emphasis towards issues of body image that can sometimes be minimized by self, clinicians, family, and even people in the support system due to the life threatening factor of breast cancer. Dealing with these issues is essential to someone whose sense of self is highly based on how she looks on the outside.
Our purpose is to make available to each of these women the emotional support that can sometimes be of great need to them and to help them improve their quality of life.
Our yearly retreat is designed to increase even more so, a deep sense of inner and outer beauty. It instills a deeper trust and deeper sense of self-worth. The retreat takes place in a beautiful and peaceful setting in the wilderness/camp where our guests are treated with utmost respect and without a doubt...like royalty.
The following are a few of the activities which take place:
* Massage Therapists and Aestheticians are always at hand to provide treatment. Touching helps the body's level of stress hormones decrease and the level of endorphins increase; touch is important for survival itself. Because a woman who has had a mastectomy may feel self-conscious, she may be less likely to seek out a massage, making this element of our retreat especially important. Our nurturing therapists provide a safe environment where our guests can indulge.
* Our customized trust building exercises allow for letting go vs. controlling. Instinctually women are nurturers, often making it difficult to receive their much needed care from others. These reflective group exercises help guests understand that it's OK to receive.
* Specially tailored art and writing workshops are offered as a healing art. Providing a safe and supporting environment along with these expressive arts facilitates introspection and growth our guests hold on to long after the weekend has ended.
* Our certified Yoga and Tai-Chi instructors lead classes that not only provides exercise, but also affect a person's emotional well-being; including dynamic interplay of movements, breathing exercises, meditations, lifestyle skills, rituals, gestures, and healing sounds. Many of these aspects are also true of our serene hiking excursions, lead by a certified Sierra Club member, who takes our guests into nature celebrating the beauty and joy of our mountain environment.
* Throughout the retreat we have a series of wonderful little surprises touching each woman's soul. This facet of the retreat takes the experience above and beyond one's expectation.
* And to complete the package, we have an array of photographers, make-up artists, and hair designers helping to bring out the natural beauty that each woman holds within her, capturing it forever in our glamour photography. Guests often shy away from the camera, but with a little coercing they indulge, having been happy they did it after all!
No one has yet to leave an A.W.O.L. retreat dissatisfied. Quite the contrary. It becomes the most memorable weekend in a woman's life...volunteers included.
- Dr. Francine Zorehkey
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