By PTSDJournal Staff
Sovereign Health Group’s approach to healing its clients begins with an emphasis on designing programs that fit specific communities and ailments.
Dr. Susanne Drury knew staff at Sovereign Health Group’s rehabilitation and treatment center in Arizona accomplished its goal when a patient told her: “I feel like I got myself back.”
Those words rang like a beautiful harmony to Dr. Drury. She wants every patient at the Sovereign Health facility in Chandler, Ariz., to recover his or her life, too. In most cases an addiction to drugs was triggered by an emotional or traumatic occurrence in their lives. Each of Sovereign’s facilities across the country specializes in a particular discipline. The Arizona location is a women’s-only facility focused on treating multiple varieties of trauma. “One of the things that stand out for our patients is that when women go through severe trauma they lose the connection with their own bodies, their own feeling and emotions,” says Dr. Patrick Schonbachler, a Sovereign Health official.
Sovereign’s sites in California, Florida and Texas support individuals with mental disorders and substance addictions. The White River Academy in Utah is designed to support troubled adolescent boys. Before a diagnosis is determined, patients go through a thorough evaluation. The process provides doctors with a large amount of information to help identify potential cures.
“One of the reasons we have a female-only facility is a lot of the women are victims of sexual trauma and being in a coed facility may not feel safe,” Dr. Drury says. “For them to feel safe in their treatment being in a place where there are only women feels safer.”
Understanding simple threads like that supports the approach of identifying treatment for the patient’s specific needs. Schonbachler and Drury deal with patients suffering from negative childhood experiences, loss of a family member through a murder or drug overdose or simply growing up in difficult environments. These experiences lead to other problems, mainly substance abuse, which is often triggered by a lack of diagnosis of early stages of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “You have to understand PTSD and trauma go together,” Drury says. “Without addressing the trauma it is very difficult for people to resolve the mental health or substance abuse because in most instances that (mental health) is driving the substance abuse.”
Patients at Sovereign’s facility in Arizona have several options. Some remain on grounds and can stay anywhere from 60 to 120 days. The group also has an intensive outpatient service. It’s normal for 20-30 clients to be on premises at one time, but often Sovereign officials say the facility will reach its capacity, which is around 60 patients.
The team of doctors, psychologists and therapists all work under the same vision. They believe the key to recovery starts with educating patients to learn how to self-diagnose, which Drury and Schonbachler agree requires several levels of treatment. The first plan is teaching patients how to stabilize themselves. “This is safety and stabilization,” Drury says. “What happens when you are traumatized is your brain is traumatized so you are upset and have difficulty calming yourself down. Anxiety and flashbacks occur. If we can get patients to understand when they get nervous or have nightmares to have a coping strategy, they calm themselves down.”
If a patient gets to that level, Drury and Schonbachler say the next step of helping patients gain control of their lives is infinitely easier. That’s when patients such as the aforementioned can state she has her life back.