Retreat Programs

One of Joyful Heart’s first formalized programs was the retreat experience. It began in 2005 as a response to an unmet need to help survivors heal in mind, body and spirit—not as a first response to crisis, but as a “next” response.

The retreat program provides options for healing for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse using a holistic approach to healing, integrating traditional healing methods, like talk therapy and psychoeducation, with modalities such as creative expression, breathwork, yoga, movement, experiencing nature and more—all of which takes place in the nurturing environment of community.

Our approach is grounded in possibility; we seek to elevate the goal of healing from one of survival to a life thriving with possibility and joy.

“The retreat really made me feel okay with myself and still, to this day, it made it ok for what I've walked through. I don't feel guilty, I don't feel shame anymore. I've embraced the beauty that we all share.”  

- Program Participant

Through a formal evaluation of the retreat program conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of Hawai‘i, UCLA’s School of Public Health and outside evaluators, we have found that it has lasting and transformative effects. It has helped to:

  • “Jump-start” healing
  • Break isolation
  • Inspire healing and a (re)connection to spirituality
  • Create an opportunity for survivors to “come home” to themselves

Today, the Joyful Heart retreat program remains unique—really the only one of its kind in the nation. We acknowledge the effort and courage it takes to request services in the recovery process from trauma. On a daily basis, the need for access to this model continually exceeds its availability.

“[Joyful Heart] needs to be the inspiration for this model of healing across the world. Give others new sets of tools to use.”  

- Referring Therapist

As a result, Joyful Heart has embarked upon an ambitious repiloting of the retreat program. Led by the National Advisory Committee, this process will culminate in an evidenced-informed, replicable retreat model that can be utilized by organizations far beyond Joyful Heart’s own reach. Our goal is to not only ensure that each survivor who reaches out to us is met with a clear path to the holistic resources that they need, but also to strengthen the field that cares for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse so that each interaction a survivor has within the larger community—from making a report to the police to accessing services at a counseling center—is met with options, support and empowerment.

Printer-friendly version