The Clearing Reviews and Testimonials
Graduate Stories and ProfilesJohn L.
Over the last few decades, John battled with depression, leaving him feeling helpless and hopeless. In addition to alcohol abuse, he smoked a ½ pack of cigarettes a day. He also suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, vision deterioration, sleep disturbances and loss of appetite.
Besides dealing with health problems, John faced legal troubles caused by receiving 3 DUIs. He also had a rocky relationship with both his girlfriend and his father.
John attended a traditional 12 Steps program about 5 years before participating in The Clearing. He also received outpatient addiction treatment at a local medical facility. These treatments worked temporarily, and he managed to stay sober for about 10 months before the addiction problem resurfaced.
This time, John went through chemical detox and then attended The Clearing. The chemical detox was short – less than a week – and just removed the substances from his body safely. He was physically clean, and now was prepared to address his underlying core issues.
Life After The Clearing:
Since graduating from the Program, John is living life on his own terms. He’s now working at a job that he really enjoys, and he improved his relationship with family, especially reconciling with his father. Overall, he is doing well and loving life.
Life Before The Clearing:
In the last few years, Debra dealt with intense grief from the loss of both her husband and father. Debra abused alcohol since she was 14 years old. She was also addicted to Xanax since 2008 to help cope with both depression and anxiety. Debra also had a strained relationship with her mom and kids. Her depression and anxiety became so severe at one point that it made it difficult to perform simple daily tasks. Even worse, she ended up losing her job in elder care.
Aside from going through a short chemical detox program that removed substances from her body safely, The Clearing was her first experience attending a rehab program.
Life After The Clearing:
Debra went back to school after graduating from the Program. She is also more self aware of her relationship with her family. For example, she applied the skills she learned at The Clearing to deal with a family issue during the holidays. Rather than letting the anger from that situation overwhelm her, Debra recognized the issue for what it was, and dealt with that issue in a powerful way. Debra has not used any drugs or alcohol since June 2015, and she noticed how the entire dynamic of her life changed for the better.
Life Before The Clearing:
Before coming to The Clearing, Dan had a dual diagnosis condition – both depression and alcoholism. He also dealt with anxiety and trauma from an abusive childhood when he was sexually assaulted as a kid.
As a way to cope with these issues, Dan would binge drink every 2-3 weeks, which often lasted a whole weekend. His alcoholic addiction lasted for almost 30 years. This caused him a lot of stress at work, and he experienced insomnia, feelings of withdrawal, decreased energy and moodiness. He also gambled, had relationship issues, including a shaky relationship with his long time girlfriend, and avoided social interactions.
Life After The Clearing:
Dan had never been to treatment before attending The Clearing. Since graduating from the Program, he made positive changes at work to support healthy behaviors in both himself and his employees. This includes taking time for needed rest, setting intentions and writing affirmations. He also feels reenergized, grounded, accomplished, patient and calm.
Dan has repaired his relationship with his girlfriend. He’s now thriving as a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business. He’s also using the tools he learned at The Clearing with his employees, which has improved the work environment. He is supporting their well-being and balance in the workplace.
Life Before The Clearing:
Mary had a dual diagnosis condition – both alcohol and depression. Her depression was so severe that it kept her in bed for most of the day. Her addiction lasted for nearly 30 years. She also suffered from anxiety, insomnia and hopelessness which left her feeling emotionally disconnected from her friends and loved ones.
Her alcohol addiction caused her to black out a few times which led to physical injury. It also caused a few negative behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated, neglecting social outings with her kids, avoiding work, and damaging her relationship with her husband, kids and the rest of her family. Mary’s loved ones lost trust in her, and she lost stability in her life.
Life After The Clearing
Since graduating from the Program, Mary created more balance in her life and is living in the “now”. She repaired her marriage and relationship with the rest of her family. She is using intentions to help her stay anchored at work, and is constantly advocating for her own mental and emotional well being. She is thriving at her law practice, and advocates for herself and others with substance and mental health issues.
Life Before The Clearing
Dan had an addiction problem that lasted over 30 years. In addition to alcoholism and marijuana addiction, Dan dealt with depression, anxiety, social issues, isolation, and childhood emotional and physical abuse. As a result, he lost his family and health, and he also had issues at work and financial hardship. This was a very stressful time for his family.
Before coming to The Clearing, Dan quit drinking on his own and stayed sober for about 16 months.
Life After The Clearing
Dan is loving life after graduating from the Program. He feels he has authentic connection at work, where he is being heard and expressing his needs. He also has a renewed connection with his family. Overall, he is happy and feels at peace.
Life Before The Clearing
Tim’s addiction problems lasted over a decade when he experienced a great deal of low self-esteem, regret, childhood trauma, suicidal thoughts, grief and loss. His anxiety interfered with his daily activities, and he felt low self-worth. He was disconnected spiritually and had frequent arguments with his family. To make matters worse, Tim had two DUIs, lost his job, and suffered from liver disease.
Before coming to The Clearing, Tim went through chemical detox to remove substances from his body safely. The Clearing was his first time participating in a residential treatment program.
Life After The Clearing
Tim has been doing well since graduating from the Program. He rediscovered his passion for cooking and found a new job. He feels fulfilled, and he can easily stay calm and centered. Tim has a renewed relationship with his brother, mother, wife and kids. He also has a new connection with himself, and he practices intentions and affirmations together with his children daily.
Life Before The Clearing
Although she did not have an addiction problem, Jane suffered from early childhood issues when she was sexually assaulted in her youth. This led to her feeling low self worth, as well as having suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder. She had been dealing with these issues for over 20 years before coming to The Clearing. Her biggest challenges were her physical health and strained relationship with her family, which included marital issues.
Before coming to The Clearing, Jane participated in two residential treatment programs - one in New Orleans, and another in Florida. She also had numerous psychiatric visits and over 8 hospitalizations. Jane thought those treatment programs were ineffective, and she didn’t feel like the staff cared for her recovery.
Life After The Clearing
Jane has been taking good care of her health with patience, while continuing to receive mental health counseling. Her marriage has improved, and she is enjoying her crafting and being outdoors. In addition, Jane underwent gastric bypass surgery, and she feels like she reinvigorated her life. She looks good and feels great.
Life Before The Clearing
Kim was a heavy binge drinker, and she needed alcohol as a way to cope with depression, isolation, low self worth, seasonal depression, grief, loss, childhood abuse, and trauma. She dealt with these problems for over 20 years.
During these years, Kim did not feel like she was engaged with her work. She had a strained relationship with her family, suffered from a number of health issues, and isolated herself from her loved ones.
Kim went through a chemical detox program prior to The Clearing to rid substances from her body safely. The Clearing was her first experience at a residential treatment program.
Life After The Clearing
Kim’s health improved, and she is loving life. She reconnected with her sisters, and her family is very supportive and loving. She also connected with her son and grandchildren, and she is able to offer support to them. Her family is so happy to have her back.
Life Before The Clearing
Kimberly’s alcohol addiction lasted over 10 years, and she dealt with anxiety, depression, panic, low self worth and isolation. During those years, she suffered from liver disease, and she had a rocky relationship with her children and husband. This left her feeling disconnected from her family, and she felt guilty that her kids had to take care of themselves. She suffered from many sleepless nights.
Before coming to the Clearing, Kimberly went through chemical detox so she could remove substances from her body safely. She has never been to residential treatment before The Clearing.
Life After The Clearing
Kimberly received a liver transplant, and she was able to reconnect to the things she loved. She has authentically connected with her spouse and has a compassionate relationship with her family with good communication.
Kimberly is able to support herself emotionally and spiritually, and she is engaging in life again. She remodelled her kitchen, and she’s back to cooking, entertaining and meditating. She regained her health and vitality.
Life Before The Clearing
Since he was 14 years old, Peter frequently dealt with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, panic and overwhelm.
His life was extremely stressful, especially dealing with family and social issues, as well as feeling overwhelmed at work.
Life After The Clearing
Peter reconnected with music, which is his passion, as well as his purpose. His personal relationships improved, and he moved closer to his girlfriend. He loves his job again, and he is definitely sleeping a lot better these days.
Life Before The Clearing
Brenda was a heavy alcohol drinker for almost 10 years, and she dealt with depression, anxiety, hopelessness, low self worth and anger. She was withdrawn from her friends and family, artwork, and her career in animal care. Brenda couldn’t hold on to her job, and she had many relationship issues. She couldn’t even take care of her aging mother.
Brenda participated in a 12-steps program in Oregon prior to attending The Clearing. She experienced a few months of sobriety before stress at home took over.
Life After The Clearing
Brenda’s life has changed since graduating from The Clearing. She practices
self-care by looking after her physical and mental health. She improved her diet and exercises regularly. She is loving herself more while receiving support from a counsellor.
Brenda is working again without overwhelming herself, and she has a better work life balance. She repaired her relationship with her husband, and has reconnected with her work and art. She is now able to take care of her mother with ease and grace.
Life Before The Clearing
Although he didn’t struggle with alcoholism or drug abuse, David suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress his entire adult life. Even though he spent years of doing talk therapy, attending seminars and reading countless books, he still was never able to heal his emotional pain.
His family was very supportive, but it was challenging for them to be around someone who is frequently depressed. He missed many wonderful moments with his wife and children over the years as a result of his inability to heal his depression.
Early in his 25+-year journey of healing, he attended an Adult Children of Alcoholics group weekly for two years. He did not come from an alcoholic family, but his therapist recommended this particular 12-step group to him, thinking it would be helpful. The experience helped him to learn what it is like to be heard. However, the 12-step approach seems to encourage a sense of helplessness which he now finds to be counter-productive.
Life After The Clearing
Since graduating from The Clearing, he walked away with a new view of himself, a greater appreciation and understanding of his authentic self, a re-designed outlook on life, and a kit of solid psychological tools that he can now apply in almost any difficult or triggering situation that presents itself.
The Clearing’s tools have also helped him better understand, and work more effectively with, his family and others. He’s noticeably more relaxed and centered. His wife commented, “It’s like I got a new husband.”
Testimonials About The Clearing
The Clearing exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
The atmosphere at the estate was very peaceful, welcoming and comfortable. There is no comparison to other facilities, which tend to be chaotic and more institutional. I felt very welcome, comfortable and respected by all staff.
The Clearing's spiritual psychology model taught me so much about myself and healing, and gave me the tools I need to continue to heal.
The food was absolutely amazing, home cooked, healthy. The cooks were accommodating and friendly. I can't say enough about my experiences at the clearing, many fond memories and life-long bonds and friendships!
When I was deciding to go to the Clearing, I kept insisting that "I needed a safe place to fall." Joe said that they would do their best. They certainly did! The people at the Clearing are some of the most genuine, loving people that I have ever met.
The curriculum that they have created WORKS!
The experience was incredible. The spiritual growth that happened to me in this program was absolutely amazing!
The Clearing gives you a structure for not only healing and learning but for life! Right down to the dinner at 6:00pm and the morning hike at 7:00am, it was all important. And, the food was wonderful! I never thought that a "treatment" facility could be such a loving, safe place. I have such fond memories of all the experiences that I had there.
It was the hardest thing that I have ever done. But, I am so grateful!
This is by far the finest facility for those troubled with addictions, personal trauma, or emotional problems that are creating a problem moving forward in life.
I am a graduate of The Clearing, and they changed my life. Everything that was on the website was proven true to me upon my entrance, and I left there a changed person. Now, it is within my control to heal and examine any issues in my path to a better life. I no longer turn to mind altering substances or to the expensive thrills of gambling.
I have the inner peace and wisdom to look at what is bothering me and fix it using tools that I learned through the program.
My experience at The Clearing was nothing short of transformative. I am, finally, me--really and truly ME!
Thanks to the unconditionally loving and supportive staff, I was able to learn how to love myself completely for the first time in my life. I have acquired a new set of tools that I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life, enriching my experiences and allowing me to live truly and fully.
Committing to the 28-day program at The Clearing is, simply put, the best gift that I have ever given to myself.
I am forever and deeply grateful.
Words simply cannot express how much Joe and Betsy have helped me overcome my struggles and discover who I truly am behind all of my layers.
What they do at The Clearing truly is life altering, and for that I’m eternally thankful.
My family is grateful to The Clearing and the dedicated, caring staff for working with our loved one to bring her out of a downhill spiral she’d been on for years.
This was not our first treatment center but after The Clearing we realize we wasted much money & precious time getting her where she needed to be. We learned that addiction isn’t only about pills & a bottle. That’s what we see on the outside. Her emotional issues were deep rooted and was a significant/difficult process to uncover & start the healing process.
The Clearing, thru loving staff members, taught her about healing, transformation, and “pulling out the splinters” from the inside. Painful, hard work, but life saving & so worth all of it. The tools she has learned has given her purpose, direction & HOPE. The family benefited greatly from the time we spent learning the program & about the treatments.
I can’t praise The Clearing enough and couldn’t be more thankful for the results.
Highly recommended. Worth every cent & time spent. Be well.
- S. T.
The staff was attentive to every need and concern for the duration of my stay, not to mention the resources available once I completed my stay at The Clearing. My stay at the estate gave me the resources to save my own life. I had my needs met at The Clearing. The staff is genuine!
What you see is what you get! If you are willing to do the work and stick through the tough times with the help of the staff, I recommend investing into your future! I was ready to save my life and at The Clearing I was shown how to do just that. The structure and guidance helped me feel safe enough to get to my core issues and do the work necessary to get where I am today. I have to mention the fresh cookies and the abundance of amazing food made daily!
I went to the Clearing after both doing a 12 step program and an aversion therapy program. Both, ultimately did not work for me.The Clearing takes a uniquely different approach and tries to build you up rather than tear you down. Part of the staff is fantastic and genuinely care about you. At the others, it seemed like the most important thing to them was if your insurance covered you and your check would clear. I was there for alcohol and it hasn't been perfect since I left there 18 months ago.
I have had some slips but I have not fallen back into the hole I was in before. I have kept all my material from the Clearing and try to use all the tools that they gave me. So far, it is working and my life is significantly better than when I checked in. The site is beautiful, the food is outstanding, and as I already mentioned, the staff is remarkable. I absolutely recommend the Clearing to you.
The program at The Clearing, literally gave me my life back! It is such a difficult decision to begin the process of deciding on Rehab. It was scary! I spoke to one of the male staff members almost daily for the 2 weeks prior to deciding to go to the Clearing. I knew that I needed a safe place to fall apart from what alcohol and depression had done to me. This is exactly what I got at the Clearing. I felt safe and cared about! They don't treat you like there is something wrong with you. It is more focused on finding out who you are! Healing underlying issues that keep coming up in your life. AND creating a life that you love!
I absolutely LOVE the staff at the Clearing. I think of them as family! Could not recommend this Rehab location enough. They changed my life! It has been 2 1/2 years and I still use the the skills that I learned at the Clearing!
Substance abuse (alcohol) wasn't my biggest reason for going to The Clearing; it was my chronic, life-long depression. I was simply weary of the inherent struggle in leading two lives, one life of the perennial over-achiever, the other of the depressed, frightened introvert. Hiding the life of the second from the world of the first had finally exhausted me. And my long-running personal therapy sessions and anti-depressant meds had reached an unsatisfactory plateau.
Speaking with two staff members at The Clearing convinced me the program was right for me, because I cried deeply after each of those interview phone calls due to their caring, honest natures and the pinpoint accuracy of their questions and explanations. I felt hope for the first time in years - hope to truly unravel, at an emotional level, the core issues behind my depression and related self-destructive behaviors. And unravel some issues we did!
Good fortune put me into a session with some truly remarkable fellow-participants; creative, intelligent, compassionate, and brutally honest with themselves. The mutual trust and accountability we developed positively blows me away as I think about it now. I came into The Clearing a very guarded person, but I teared up, cried, bawled and uncorked painful memories with this group of "strangers". It was a wonderful release to be fully honest with my buried feelings.
From my first email to our graduation evening, The Clearing staff treated me with respect, compassion and understanding. Humor permeated everyone’s attitude, but never overshadowed the seriousness of my reason for being there. The accommodations were excellent, and the food superb. I never felt like an inmate, or a damaged person, nor did I feel condescension raining down on me. I was treated as a man who wanted to heal. There were two men that were our workshop leaders, and they are fabulous teachers, as well as incisive listeners, with years of experience in this recovery philosophy to offer participants.
There is no preaching here, only deep emotional learning. During the month at the estate I worked on many of my core issues – maybe even healed one or two - and the tools I brought home help me to continue peeling layers from my inner self. I’m learning to love and take care of myself – a true gift from my days at The Clearing.
The Clearing not only gave me my life back, but the new version is healed, free from the baggage that I struggled with. I highly recommend this facility to everyone who struggles with addiction!
The Clearing saved my life. Having tried everything for years and at the end of my rope with thoughts of suicide i, with the help of my family embarked on a national search for a different type of depression relief program. Not a business model approach like so many others we called but an approach with extraordinarily caring people and real healing tools.
From our many calls of exploration at the outset of our search to the very end of the program The Clearing and its staff continually showed their deep, personal commitment to providing a unique and trans formative personal program above all others. in addition to this genuine foundation
The Clearing separates itself from all the others with its small group format of no more than 10 participants for the entire month, private bedrooms and bathrooms, 6 days a week of structured emotional and cognitive work based on science as well as evidence based psychology work.
It's 'after-care' program once you've left the estate is incredibly generous and nurturing ans sustaining. Oh and the food is awesome too! The Clearing reveals a variety of methods, modes and tools which comprehensively come together to re-frame the way you think, the way you view yourself and view the world. Every child should be taught this curriculum in school. And it should be noted it is not religious. It does not infringe on your personal beliefs, nor does it concentrate on your "issue." It gets to the core emotional events, the root causes which have led you there.
If you are struggling with addiction and or depression and anxiety as i was. You no longer have to live with it. The Clearing will change your life--and your family's.
If I had gone through the usual mindless "12 step" rehab at some other location, I would not be any better off today. Because of 'The Clearing'... I am better off today. They made the difference. The methods they use, the warmth and love they give, the environment they provide is way above and beyond anything to be found anywhere else. I am a fan.
If you're looking for a rehab that delivers on their promises, call The Clearing. The program is amazing, addressing core issues on all levels to facilitate real healing. That said, be prepared to get to work - the 28-day program is basically the equivalent of a two-year Master's in counseling. In workshops and therapy sessions, you go deep into all those issues you've been avoiding for years. But don't worry, all of this is done in an incredibly welcoming and supportive environment.
The estate location itself is beautiful, but the people are what make this place so special. Every staff member I encountered truly cared and went above and beyond for us. They paid attention to the details and took great care of us.
I loved my group and felt so fortunate to work alongside the other participants. (Also, it's worth mentioning that the guest house was nice and cozy and the food was delicious.) It was the experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend The Clearing!
I received treatment for clinical depression and alcohol abuse at The Clearing in 2016. A 28-day inpatient program, The Clearing's program was, for me, completely transformative. As this program is not a 12 Step program but, rather, one that utilizes the tools and principles of Spiritual Psychology, I was able to learn how to accept and heal the underlying issues of the depression and anxiety that led me to drink as a way of numbing my pain.
The Clearing's program is certainly an intensive one but I found myself completely supported and unconditionally loved by the entire staff ... and all of the wonderful farm animals. This is a program that will allow you to reclaim your own power. This is a program that will teach you how to truly love yourself and, by extension, realize the true beauty of your life.
At The Clearing, you will receive all of the tools that you will ever need to live the life that you imagine for yourself. You will have to wade through all of that muck that you've tamped down for so long to get there but once you do, you will be truly free. You will be empowered. You will be healthy.
This is not a clinical program--no white walls, no bed-checks, no chores. You will be treated as an individual and, though you will be held responsible for your actions, you will be trusted as a member of The Clearing community during treatment. Also? Karaoke. And bonfires. And s'mores. Hiking and nature walks. Tai Chi. Field trip!
I whole-heartedly recommend the program at The Clearing to anyone who struggles with depression, substance abuse, compulsive disorders, any kind of mental or emotional disturbance, and/or anyone simply looking to learn how to truly live their life to the fullest.
This facility is located in a uniquely beautiful and peaceful place. That and the 'spiritual psychology' based treatment program is deeply effective and sustaining.
I found the 28-day program at The Clearing to be the most transformational experience of my life. I came to the program at age 64 after struggling with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress reactions for most of my adult life. I have been through years of therapy, read countless books, and done graduate work in psychology. Most of these helped somewhat, but I was never able to undo the debilitating emotional impact that my conditions had on me. I finally became desperate enough to reach out for a residential program, and in my research I discovered The Clearing.
The Clearing’s program can perhaps best be described as a mini-Master’s degree in counseling. I never felt like I was in any kind of rehab program. Rather, it was like a graduate school where the staff patiently taught us - in a very well-structured experiential program - how to be counselors to ourselves. I am an experienced trainer myself, and have both given, and been a participant in, many trainings. This was the most well-structured training of its kind that I have ever received. The curriculum is designed to take participants step-by-step from knowing nothing about counseling to a level of self-care that is beyond anything I’d ever experienced. As a result, the quality of my life dramatically improved, and I walked away with a toolkit that I can use for the rest of my life in virtually any situation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible food at The Clearing, which is little short of amazing. This is not cafeteria food. This is top quality hotel/restaurant fare, with constantly changing dishes, much of which are locally sourced and/or organic, so you know you’re eating healthy. The staff went out of their way to accommodate some food sensitivities of mine. In fact, they went out of their way to do just about anything reasonable to ensure a positive and healing experience for me and my co-participants. The venue - a 43-acre estate in rural Friday Harbor, Washington - adds a beautiful and natural environment to the experience.
While people usually come to a program like this due to some crisis - e.g., depression, stress, substance abuse, grief, etc. - virtually anyone could benefit from the skills and tools taught in this unique non-12-step program. It is positive, empowering, and transformational. Highly recommended.
I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to the entire staff (literally everyone) here at The Clearing. The generosity, love, care, support and just the all around good energy was so refreshing and wonderful to come to. Everyone here has helped me in some way and my gratitude is beyond words. I will always hold each and everyone of you a special place in my heart.
You will find this estate to be a very loving and healing place. You will learn some very valuable skills that you can use for the rest of your life. If you have made it this far you have been given an exceptional opportunity. If you keep an open mind and do the work you will see great changes in yourself and how you feel. If you want healing, this is the place. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. I have come to know the staff of this beautiful place and I trust them and love them.
I hope this greeting finds you well! Since June, I have enrolled in culinary school and I just finished my first semester (with flying colors, of course). I have a renewed sense of drive and purpose in life and it feels fantastic! I am so pleased that I made the leap of faith and attended the program at The Clearing, without that experience I do not think I would be where I am today. My horizons have really broadened, to say the least. Funny enough, much of what we learned at The Clearing has been useful in my studies, particularly in my psychology class this semester.
Despite all the hard work, I look back and think fondly of my time with all of you, and how much I have changed as a person. Inevitably, things still come up for me at the emotional level but now I have tools and resources to deal with these things, other than self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. The things I learned through the program, have completely flipped the script on my life, and for that I will be forever grateful. I have told many people about The Clearing and spiritual psychology and cannot say enough good things about how it has changed my life. All the claims were true!
I miss every one of you and think of you all often, and wonder how everyone is doing. I hope that you all are well, and that we have an opportunity to reconnect in the future. Wishing all my best.
The Clearing has the most amazing program. They guide us and WE do the work. Life changing and I’m forever grateful. My heart ♥️ and soul have been filled and will overflow as I walk and live my new path.
Throughout my life, I believed depression and anxiety were inherent and immovable forces. I had operated from a space of self-loathing, anger, and overwhelm since childhood and I was skeptical that there was a productive, healthy life in my future. Isn’t it naïve to assume that life can be joyful? Where do people get off having inner peace? My accomplishments and accolades felt empty and only in over-working, over-exercising, food restriction, and self-harm behavior did I feel some semblance of control in the chaos. Of course, control was fleeting and damaging on all levels of my being, but even a temporary fix seemed necessary to continue the uphill battle. On many occasions, the bleak future of discontent and fear led me to feel that dying would be a gentle kindness.
When I made the decision to dedicate 28 days of my life to concentrated healing, I was expecting some coping tools for how to handle my depression. I owned the idea that I was beyond help, a victim of the culmination of my life’s events and culpable for every failure or mistake, defined by my ability to ‘do’, frustrated with my inability to ‘get over it and carry on’. I viewed psychology as a soft science of speculation and readied myself to be inundated with dogma and fluffy breathing techniques to handle my panic. Never once did I expect to find my heart’s center, to learn to love myself for who I am at the core of my being, to release my attachment to external control, and to release the hurts I held inside that made me defensive, fearful, and withdrawn. I didn’t expect to find my purpose, to feel confident in leaning into my passions, or to thrive in a world in which I save and honor myself and care for my life’s journey with tenderness, compassion, loving, and grace.
The environment at The Clearing is bright, warm, and loving. Every accommodation is made to allow each participant to fully focus on their internal journey. Meals are divine, the cookie jar mysteriously refills itself, the coffee pot bubbles all day, and the beds are piled with blankets. I was never a patient, but rather, a family member treated with love and respect. I was surrounded by like minds- people who actually wanted to be there. The staff is authentic, humorous, kind, dedicated, and compassionate- giant hearts walking around on two legs and practicing these tools in their lives daily. I immediately felt safe and held in loving, which was instrumental in allowing years of emotional baggage to be explored and healed. Each lecture in the workshop was intuitive, but also informative and evidence-based. The experiential learning cemented the concepts into memory and the tools I learned empowered me to rescue myself from my fears, insecurities, pain, and traumas. While the idea of being personally responsible for my feelings felt a little intimidating at first, it turned out to be exactly what I had been seeking- a form of internal power and emotional security. All of a sudden, I was in control of my joy and it was boundless and overflowing.
Six months after the completion of the program, I realized I had not experienced a single day of immovable depression. I had not experienced a single panic attack. I used my tools frequently (and still do), rebuilt damaged relationships in my life, removed myself from that which did not serve me, and finally learned to share my voice with confidence. This is what a healthy life felt like. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my experience. I consider The Clearing staff my family, always and forever. And what do they say when I express my gratitude? “You did this. You did this for you- we just gave you the tools. You’re the one that rescued yourself.” And I did. I am my own lady-knight in shining armor. And I will continue to live a life of peace, practicing awareness, dedicated to sharing a beautiful truth: Depression can be temporary. All beings are worthy of love. Even you.
I completed the program in Spiritual Psychology at The clearing in May 2017. What led me to The Clearing is a tortuous path over nearly 50 years of unrecognized and unacknowledged trauma that resulted in a lifetime of anger, depression and anxiety. The tools I learned at The Clearing transformed my life and led me to a place of “wild optimism” that I had never recognized, appreciated or acknowledged in my life. I am sharing my story for very personal and maybe selfish reasons; ultimately, I am sharing my experiences with untethered hope that my experience might help other people struggling with mental health issues coupled with substance abuse.
I was born into a loving, supportive and traditional family in Casper, Wyoming; I was the youngest of four boys. My mother was a rock living in a “male dormitory”; she had her hands full as a stay at home mother for four very ornery, intelligent and energetic sons. My father was a very hard-working man; always striving to make a better life for his spouse and sons. My father came from a broken family and struggled with depression and anxiety for most of his life. My father sought and received traditional treatment and was medicated for depression and anxiety for nearly the last 40 years of his life. From my perspective, this treatment regime was very unsuccessful, and he told me later in life that he simply learned to cope with his anxiety and depression; he did not believe that he could heal the pain from his youth. As a younger man my father kept his depression and anxiety in check by staying very busy at work; becoming very successful in business. It was not until my father retired nearly 30 years before he passed away that his mental illness overshadowed his life.
As the youngest of four brothers I always felt like I was walking in footprints that were difficult to equal or fill. I loved my brothers as a child but as the adage goes “boys will be boys.” In hindsight I struggled with individuating and embracing and loving myself; I was always comparing and contrasting my life to my brothers and other male role models in my life. Today I love my brothers deeply, and with the passing of both of my parents they are what is left of my family. I now recognize, love and accept them for the beautiful individuals that they are. I am at peace with their individuality and the happiness they have in their own lives. Similarly, I remain playfully, joyfully and peacefully wildly optimistic about my life.
My school years were filled with what I now recognize as social anxiety; I did not feel like I fit in or belonged. I believed: I was not intelligent; I was not motivated; I did not finish what I started; I never did my best; I was not athletic; I was not who I thought I was supposed to be. I had some good friends over the years, but I always felt “less than” every group of friends I had during my formative years. I never blamed these feelings on my family or any of my friends; I simply convinced myself that I was not the person I was supposed to be; I did not measure up to my own unrealistic and unattainable standard.
I spent seven years in college changing schools four times and my area of study twice. I finally graduated from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a degree in Civil Engineering; following in the footsteps of my oldest brother. I worked for a small consulting firm in my home town and became one of two principals in the company. I had over 25 years of success at work and truly enjoyed being an engineer. I loved the creative portion of the work, and even more so developing meaningful friendships with my clients and co-workers. Much like my father, I stayed very busy at work keeping my depression and anxiety in the background by solving problems and completing work for other people.
My drinking started, like most kids in my generation and community, when I was in my teens. I drank to fit in and to feel mature. My drinking continued unabashed for nearly 35 years. I drank to relieve my anxiety, to fit in and to quell my depression. I justified my drinking by telling myself that it was simply a generationally-approved means to relieve the tension from the day and enjoy some liberating and open conversations with like-minded friends. I was drinking daily, nearly a quart of my favorite cheap Canadian whiskey, proudly distilled in St. Louis, Missouri. My drinking was a source of identity and pride; a hollow pride that undoubtedly started when I was much younger.
The week that my father died in 2014 I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver; shortly after his funeral I quit drinking for a period of time. I had quit on a second occasion several months before the passing of my mother in 2016. My mother’s passing was not a complete surprise, but we watched her put her affairs in order and then gently pass on her own terms. It was a beautiful and peaceful process. Shortly after my mother passed away my drinking escalated to new levels and purposes. Sensing that I needed a change in my life, I sold my interest in my business; I was now working for the company that I had helped grow. However, as I told my wife I was entirely fatalistic. Despite enjoying a career in which I made clear decisions and felt I was in control, I had an intense feeling of inevitability about my life; a belief that I was going to die; and I really didn’t care or have control over that fact.
On a Tuesday afternoon in late April 2017 I was watching an interview with Wayne Brady from Who’s Line is it Anyway? He was talking about the symptoms of depression and how he had managed these symptoms in his life. The interview resonated deeply with me, and that night after several drinks I began my search for a treatment facility. I had no desire to pursue conventional prescription treatment coupled with weekly meetings with a therapist; I had watched my father struggle unsuccessfully with this modality of treatment for over 30 years. The 12 step approach prescribed by Alcoholics Anonymous did not resonate with me; I had been exposed to this approach for over 30 years through my family. I frantically began my research on Wednesday morning and called three different facilities advertising dual diagnosis treatment. I was less than impressed during my telephone interactions with these facilities. Fatefully and with the guidance of what I now know as Spirit I contacted The Clearing on Thursday afternoon. After two meaningful, insightful, empathetic and loving conversations that afternoon with Joe and Betsy (founders of The Clearing program) I made a commitment to join the next program at The Clearing starting on Sunday, just three days and 1,300 miles away.
I spent over 18 hours in the car by myself driving to The Clearing’s facility located on San Juan Island. During this time of reflection I was touched by Spirit and undoubtedly the hand of my mother. I realized that over the past 51 years of my life, although financially successful, I had not ended up where I had planned or hoped to be in my life. I made a commitment to be completely in the moment, and to embrace a new way of thinking and living with the insight that my old way of being had not led me to my desired life’s journey. I also recognized that what was in front of me was the single biggest gift I had ever received: 28 days to just work on myself without any external worries or influences.
My experience at The Clearing was in a word transformational. Entering The Clearing I never believed that I truly experienced “trauma” in my life, based upon society’s definition of the word. However, I had experienced numerous challenges and events in my life which shaped the way I experienced and emotionally lived my life. With the unabashed love, empathy and support of the amazing staff at The Clearing I addressed these events in my life and transformed the way I held these past events in my heart and in my mind. The program at The Clearing is not easy, but it is also not about rote memorization, fear or blaming. One of the many things I learned at The Clearing is “what is mine to feel is mine to heal.” People don’t make me feel a certain way; it is how I receive, hold and believe in the issue that matters. Using the tools of Spiritual Psychology, I learned, understood and embraced at The Clearing, I set upon a path of healing and enlightenment.
One of the principles of Spiritual Psychology is “Spirit meets us at the point of action.” I came to The Clearing with a spiritual belief that was somewhere between atheism and agnosticism; there is a whole lot of road between these two. A year after my transformational experience at The Clearing I have an ever deepening relationship with my higher power, Spirit, that is very personal. I certainly do not proclaim to have it all figured out, and I embrace that everyone has a very unique and personal relationship with a higher power whether it is God, the universe or simply nature. What I do understand, believe and feel in my life every day is that when I choose to move my life in a positive direction, Spirit or God or the universe is there with me. There is energy, love and support in this journey.
Twenty-eight days after starting my journey at The Clearing I left the facility with a new lease on life; a feeling that I was intelligent, compassionate and filled with self-love and appreciation; my life’s journey was not fatalistic. I was and I remain wildly optimistic about by unfolding life’s purpose. I live and practice the tools I learned at The Clearing every day of my life; these tools and ways of being are my life. I am living my life each day with self-love, optimism, joy and purpose.
A funny thing happened along the way; I don’t drink anymore. We rarely talked about our “substance” of choice at The Clearing, instead we talked about our lives and what was standing in the way of what we wanted to manifest in our lives. As Joe says: “It’s not about the substance.” When I healed the underlying core issues in my life, alcohol lost all of the energy that it held in my life. I have no desire to drink but I am also not afraid, addicted or subordinate to this substance. I am simply at peace without needing the coping mechanism that I used in my life to address the emotional issues. I now heal these emotional issues as they present themselves in my life using the tools I learned at The Clearing.
After leaving the program in late May 2017 I was given the ultimate opportunity: to return to The Clearing and help other people address their underlying emotional issues and to live the life they truly dream of and deserve. This life of service to others is a blessing and frankly a calling for me. I have never done anything in my life that is more rewarding and inspiring than my work at The Clearing. I am eternally grateful to all of the staff and the founders at The Clearing. Most importantly, I am grateful for the courageous, brave and loving participants that I have had the pleasure to meet, know and love during their time at The Clearing over the past 12 months. They are an inspiration to me and a daily reminder of the love, compassion and greatness that exists in humankind.
I live 1,300 miles away from the love of my life, my wife Laura, and my friends and family in the Rocky Mountain region. I get to be with my wife for several days every five weeks. I wouldn’t change it for the world. This is the most compelling and rewarding work I have ever done and my wife, friends and family all support my journey. Several people have asked me whether the program at The Clearing is worth the significant expense that it takes to support the facility and staff. I simply respond: my life is worth a lot more than the cost of the program. What good were my retirement account and my investments when I was living a fatalistic life of inevitability? I am now living the life I love and deserve.
I am playfully, joyfully, peacefully one in Spirit, mind and body; willingly co-creating my life’s unfolding purpose with untethered hope, gratitude, humility and unbridled optimism.
The Clearing has given me everything I need to have my life back. I’m so blessed and grateful to have my sparkle back!
This program changed my life. I have a whole, healthy new way of approaching life’s challenges. The Clearing has given me an arsenal of tools to keep me sober.
I have completed 12 step focused treatment two times before, and I wanted to try another approach and am so glad I did. I am feeling like a different person; more calm, confident, connected to myself and ready to continue the work on my own.
Unlike any treatment center/support group I’ve been to, unique and empowering of me. Attention and love to core issues until actually resolved has changed my life.
I feel a personal sense of confidence and fulfillment that I did not have prior to attendance. It was well worth the time and effort spent at The Clearing.
My experience at The Clearing exceeds my expectations. The Clearing was the right place at the right time for the right reason.
For anyone looking for non-12 step methodology, The Clearing is the place. It approached addiction treatment from a loving and forgiving place. You focused on staying in the moment instead of beating yourself up for your past mistakes (which we learned are really learning opportunities). I knew in my heart that this was the place for me to be. There was no doubt for me and my intuition was correct. I’ve learned more in 28 days about myself than 4 treatment centers combined. The Clearing would benefit anyone no matter our circumstances.
The Clearing cares and co-creates healing at the deepest levels. I felt cared for and respected for who I am. I would have never got out of my situation without The Clearing. I feel I got the skills and tools to go forward in my life. I am forever grateful and this saved my life.
The Clearing helped me discover tools that I can use to heal trauma and energize myself for the rest of my life. This has been an amazing experience. I am incredibly glad to have undergone it.
I was finally able to find love for myself, forgiveness for myself and control of my life. The program is very well designed but as importantly, the entire staff is loving and supportive.
I was always intellectually and emotionally challenged while feeling completely supported. The staff at The Clearing is to a person genuine and loving.
I feel the profound experience of healing here is going to change my life.
This is a life course. “Life 101”. This info needs to be taught to all. If one truly wants to achieve any level of wholeness, health and self-actualization – this is the school. The Clearing is so, so much more than rehabilitation. I came for chronic depression and isolation and I’m leaving here firmly on a path I could only dream of before. I am forever changed and infinitely thankful. I never imaged a program could reach me when no self help book, talk, retreat, loved one or even myself could. Each of the counselors so integral with specific skills and intuition. Not enough room to express my gratitude and awe at what has been created here. Thank You.
The Clearing gave me an opportunity to deal with traumatic issues that were still affecting my life and most importantly, gave me the tools to continue to heal and the ability to use them going forward. They did what they said would do. They allowed me to truly deal with my traumatic issues – showed me the tools and how to use them in my daily life going forward. Most important is the understanding and belief that I control how I feel about my life and how I chose to live it.
The Clearing is life changing. To have the tools in place to heal underlying issues has been the best thing to ever happen to me. The counseling staff, the environment, the safety and comfort of living in the farm house, excellent meals, excellent fellowship of participants, all contributed to the unbelievable results from the program. Very well organized and directed.
My life path has been altered. I have the confidence and tools to line my path with self-love and compassion. I have hope, peace, self-love, spirituality and all the tools now to remain in this space.
The Clearing created a loving and supportive space for recovery from various types of pain. It was in depth training for life long care by extremely caring and knowledgeable counselors. The environment was peaceful. Accommodations and food – amazing.