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St. Gregory Center incorporates body, mind, spirit

By KATIE BORKOWSKI
katieb@catholicglobe.org

BAYARD, Iowa – St. Gregory Recovery Center offers Catholic and Christian programs for those seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“In our program, we believe there are three aspects – body, mind and spirit – of getting people well,” said Nick Leerhoff, clinical director at the center. “People are coming to us because they want help.”StGregLogo

Physically, the program helps with withdrawal, proper nutrition, exercise and sleep.

“These play a big factor in mental health,” said Leerhoff. “For the mind, we use cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be one of the best therapies to use. We also do psychoeducational groups and lectures.”

He explained this is not a 12-step program.

“We are a Catholic-inspired, faith-based program,” said Leerhoff. “We have a priest who comes in to celebrate Mass six days a week. We have two nuns on staff.”

The goal of the program is “to help resolve the underlining issues that caused the symptom of substance abuse,” he said.

“We feel if we can resolve that issue, be future-oriented, get them excited about life again, that sobriety will take care of itself,” Leerhoff said. “It is wake-up every day with a purpose and be excited about what you are doing.”

Spirituality

Matthew Graham is the spiritual and health and wellness director at St. Gregory’s, located 12 miles south of Scranton in Guthrie County.

“Sometimes people want the spirituality, but they need a specific personality to help get that out of them,” he said. “Having the dual role of spiritual and health and wellness within one person helps make it a little bit more real for them.”

Graham explained an obstacle that comes with addiction is guilt and shame and “I am my past mistakes.”

“We try to provide an avenue or a vision that we don’t want their addiction to define them or who they see they are,” said Leerhoff. “They are a child of God. There is an avenue for them to get back to the person they were created to be.”

Among the counselors are a nun and a recently-ordained deacon through the Diocese of Des Moines, commented Graham.

“This is really cool because if you are going to be a faith-based inspired program, they have an avenue to meet someone who has a deep theological background,” said Graham.

Not only is Mass offered almost every day, but confession is available frequently.

“The priests we have are very good about staying late or coming early for confession,” said Graham. “We offer spiritual direction, which a lot of times is done by me, but if they also want to meet with a priest, they can do that.”

Teaching virtues

The eight-week program for individuals 18 and older uses a few books – Transforming in Virtue, Growing in Skills and Changing for Good.StGregCurriculum books

“What makes us unique is we teach our own curriculum that we developed, so no one else has it,” said Leerhoff. “There are seven virtues that we teach – faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.”

He added a set of sub-virtues are also taught – what does it mean to live virtuously, what does it mean to practice faith and what does it mean to show love.

“We find that applying those virtues and getting people on track to who they were created to be is values clarification, meditation, rebuilding relationships with their loved one,” said Leerhoff.

Each aspect of the program ties back to spirituality and finding a way back to God, he said.

“When people come to us, they are not only physically and mentally hurting, but they are spiritually hurting,” said Leerhoff. “They are angry at God for some injustice that happened. They have kind of lost their way. Part of our goal is finding their way back.”

Growing in Skills deals with skill building including communication skills, recognizing irrational beliefs and how to reframe those beliefs, said Leerhoff.

“Changing for Good outlines the different stages of change and the processes that it takes for people to get from one stage of change to another,” said Leerhoff. “We want to help them understand how it is possible to change.”

Neurocognitive, nutraceuticals

Neurocognitive therapy helps with brain health, Leerhoff pointed out. Those entering the program take a comprehensive assessment when they arrive.

“It helps rebuild and helps restore cognitive function,” said the clinical director. “It also has different things to help with relaxation and anxiety.”

One of the final aspects of the program are the nutraceuticals, which is a mix of amino acids, vitamins and nutrients that are “geared towards liver restoration and a natural way of reducing cravings,” said Leerhoff.

“The whole goal of that is to help restore the body,” he said.

Facility

The St. Gregory Center opened in 2007. It is a men’s and women’s program on a coed campus, but the men and women are separated during the day for programming. The staff of 35 is a “diverse group of people,” Leerhoff said. Someone is at the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Currently, St. Gregory’s has a relationship with a local hospital for guests in need of detox.

“The guest goes there first before entering the program to make sure they are adequately detoxed,” said Leerhoff.

The facility has a full basketball court, a full volleyball court indoors, weight room and sauna.

St. Gregory’s is located close to White Rock Conservatory, which has the opportunity for hiking, biking and fishing. The guests do service at the conservatory.

“We get people thinking about others, how they can help others and get the focus off of themselves a little bit,” said Leerhoff.

For more information about St. Gregory Recovery Center or to begin the path to permanent recovery, visit stgregoryctr.com or call (888) 919-2880.

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