• Anxiety          
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Shame
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Excessive Stress 
  • Social Discomfort/Phobia
  • Eating Disorders
  • Relationship Concerns
  • Pain Management

Treatment

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Effective Treatment
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2.  Treating Co-occurring Mental Health Concerns

In addition to chemical dependency, nearly all of our clients also experience an underlying mental health concern.

In some cases, a mental health concern such as anxiety or trauma may lead a client to addictive behavior.  In other instances, addictive behavior may produce a different mental health challenge, such as anger management or shame.

Invariably, a vicious cycle develops where an addict’s substance abuse exacerbates these underlying mental health concerns, which, in turn, leads to more addictive behavior – and so on.

Accordingly, one of our primary goals is to assist our clients in addressing these underlying mental health challenges.  By helping our clients to alleviate and manage these concerns, we not only help to protect against future relapse, we also help to improve their overall happiness and personal fulfillment.

A broad-sweeping spectrum of mental health concerns are defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, 5th edition (“DSM-5”).​

3.  Highly Qualified & Experienced Clinical Staff

The engine that drives our Program is our highly qualified and committed clinical staff.  Our management team is led by Karen Relf, M.S.Ed., who has over 20 years of experience in the social services field.  Ms. Relf joined The Abbey in 2009 and became Program Director in 2013.

Because our emphasis is not just on substance abuse, but also on mental health concerns, all of our Primary Counselors hold Master’s degrees in counseling and therapy. 

In addition to those committed team members, Abbey clients receive medical and psychiatric care from our physicians and nurses. 

On average, our clinical team members have over 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and behavioral health.




4.  Individualized & Compassionate Care

Upon admission, each client is assessed with diagnostic criteria set forth by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).  Together with this assessment and other diagnostic tools (medical examination, psychiatric evaluation, a biopsychosocial analysis, etc.), we develop an Individualized Treatment Plan that addresses the client’s specific needs.  That Individualized Treatment Plan is reviewed continually with the client – and modified over time (as appropriate), based upon the client’s growth and progress while in treatment.

Our highly competent and well trained staff know and understand the disease of addiction.  Our job is not to judge or lecture our clients – nor to treat them as though they are morally deficient.  Our priority is to provide our clients with the tools necessary to treat their addictions and to improve their overall health and happiness in a life of fulfilling Recovery. 




5.  Treatment Modalities

Our clinical staff employ a broad range of evidenced-based treatment modalities to care for our clients.  Common examples include: 

  • Individual Therapy

  • Group Therapy

  • Process Groups

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)

  • Trauma Informed Care (TIC)

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • ​Gender-Specific Therapy

  • 12-Step Facilitation (please see more below)




6.  12-Step Foundation & Facilitation

Underlying all of our clinical treatment modalities is a Foundation based upon the 12 Steps as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alanon, and many other 12-Step support groups. 

We rely heavily on the 12-Step philosophies and traditions for a simple reason:  they work.  For over 80 years, the 12 Step community has been the single-most effective program to combat addiction.  Among other factors, the 12 Step community has a network of peer-support groups across the country and across the world. 

[In fact, we believe that those 12-Step principles are so effective that we recommend them even to people who do not necessarily suffer from addiction.  All communities would likely be improved if they engaged in periodic support meetings, and if community members acted with honesty and integrity in their affairs.] 

Put simply, the 12 Steps represent a road map to help people live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.

Our clients are introduced to the 12 Steps through a treatment modality known as “12-Step Facilitation.”  Clients are exposed to the original texts, attend numerous 12-Step meetings, and even begin the process known as 12-Step sponsorship with peer-support.





7.  Continuum of Care; Continuing Care; [P]relapse Prevention

The Abbey is licensed to provide a broad range of clinical services:  from the lowest level of outpatient services through the highest level of residential care (sometimes referred to as “inpatient care”.)  Therefore, we have the ability to meet all of our clients “where they are at”.

Among the factors that are individually tailored to each client are the intensity and duration of care.  Depending upon a client’s progress, we may increase or decrease the appropriate level of care, and we may extend or reduce the overall length of treatment.  Although our core Program is generally based upon a 4-week cycle, many clients find that they need a longer period in treatment, while others can get what they need from The Abbey in a shorter period of time.

We believe strongly in the effectiveness of Continuing Care (sometimes referred to as “Aftercare”).  Accordingly, we provide multiple opportunities every week for former clients (“Abbey Alumni”) to return for programming and 12-Step groups.  For those clients who live in other communities, we find local resources for them to get the continuing support that they need as they begin their journeys in Recovery.

As with any chronic disease, Recovery from addiction requires routine management and compliance.  (Addiction is often compared to the chronic disease of diabetes.  In each, patients must manage their behavior and maintain compliance with their treatment protocols to prevent relapse and mitigate concomitant health problems.)

Over time, a former client may find himself or herself in a rut in her Recovery program.  The relapse process typically begins long before any substance abuse takes place.  For this reason, we invite appropriate Abbey Alumni to return to The Abbey at any time for what we refer to as a “booster shot” of Recovery.  For some, this means simply talking with a staff person.  For others, it might mean having a therapy session.  And still others may find that they benefit from re-admitting to our Program – usually for a brief period of time – to re-engage in their Recovery.  In our opinion, it is far more effective to help former clients who feel their Recovery program is becoming unstable, rather than waiting until they fall back into the depths of his addiction.



8.  Family Programming

Addiction is often described as a “Family Disease”.  Indeed, when alcoholism and addiction infiltrate families, usually everyone is affected in negative ways. 

At The Abbey, we view the families of our patients as our clients, as well.  Every week, appropriate family members are invited to participate in Family Programming at The Abbey – including an Alanon support group.

In general, we have several goals:


  • To educate family members about the disease of addiction.

  • To help those family members get the support that they need for their own health and happiness.

  • To begin to repair the broken connections among family members by helping to improve communication.

  • To have our clients and their family members share with one another what their needs will be to ensure successful Recovery.




9.  Holistic Therapies; Exercise & Physical Fitness

In addition to the traditional clinical services that we provide to our clients, we also expose them to a broad range of holistic therapies, including:


  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Music Therapy

  • Art Therapy


We offer these holistic therapies for two principal reasons. 

First, because they work.  Research and our own experience at The Abbey demonstrate the effectiveness of these holistic practices in improving overall health and well-being. 

Second, a core principle of the 12-Step program is being “open” and “willing” to a new way of thinking and a healthy way of living.  Exposure to these holistic therapies is mind-expanding for our clients.  Even among those clients who resist trying these holistic activities, we find that they derive great benefits.  Many of our clients will go on to continue these practices in their everyday lives.  And, even when they don’t find that they don’t continue them, the process of trying them while in treatment makes their thinking more amenable to the other elements of the Recovery program.

In addition to these holistic therapies, our clients are encouraged to engage in a range of exercise and other physical activities – which also promote overall good health and well-being.




​10.  Spirituality

One of the key success factors in the 12-Step Recovery program is the importance of a connection to a “higher power” – or, as we like to think of it, “spirituality”. 

In Recovery, this spirituality and connection to a higher power is individual to each person.  Although some people find this connection through a religion, many others define their spirituality in more personal ways. 

Many of our clients struggle with the concept of spirituality – particularly as it relates to their prior experience with a particular religion.  Oftentimes, our clients may feel abandoned by their religion:  “If there is a God, why am I so miserable in my addiction?”

At The Abbey, our goal is to help clients connect with their higher power – as they understand it to be.  As even the most scientific Albert Einstein said:  “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

​The Abbey is not affiliated with any religion, and we do not promote one.  Having said that, our Facility was built over 100 years ago as a monastery for Carmelite Sisters to pray.  That is, The Abbey was purposely built for prayer and contemplation – which most of our clients find as a source of great comfort and support.  Unlike most other treatment facilities, our clients have access to our Chapel – for moments of prayer and contemplation throughout the day.




​11. High-Quality, Safe & Secure Facility in a Serene Setting

The process of addiction treatment is challenging and involves a lot of hard work for our clients. 

We believe that this hard work and effort is softened by the opportunity to be located in a safe and serene setting. 

The Abbey is elegantly designed not as an institution, but as an inviting safe haven for our clients and staff.  All of our client rooms are private or semi-private – each with its own bathroom.

Our property is situated on over an acre of courtyards and gardens.  Our grounds are surrounded by an 8-foot wall for privacy and security.  In addition to our continual supervision of clients during treatment, our facility is monitored by dozens of closed-circuit cameras to ensure safety and security.





12.  Meals & Nutrition

At The Abbey, healthy meals provide a variety of significant benefits.

First, our meals are nutritious.  Nearly all of our clients at The Abbey suffer from poor nutrition due to their addictive behaviors.  Too often, our clients ingest too many calories through the consumption of alcohol – or avoid eating altogether as a symptom of their alcoholism or drug abuse.  By preparing healthy meals, our clients begin to get the nutrition their bodies need. 

Second, our meals are opportunities for healthy social interaction.  Clients eat communally, and get the opportunity to connect with one another while “breaking bread” together.  In fact, our meals are generally served in the Café, which is open to the clients throughout the day as a healthy, sober “hang out”.  Too often, our clients are accustomed to establishing their social lives around meeting in bars, taverns, and pubs.  Instead, our Café at The Abbey resembles a neighborhood Starbucks – and serves as a model for clients as a social setting for making healthy connections with friends when they return to their home communities.

​Third, from research and our own experience, we know that many of our clients run the risk of cross-addictions.  For example, some of our clients may suffer from eating disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia, etc.).  Our healthy and structured meals help reinforce positive eating habits.

Finally, our meals are delicious.  Part of engaging in a healthy and fulfilling life in Recovery is having pleasurable experiences.  And we want our clients to appreciate eating delicious food.  Our expectation is that this will help clients to understand the benefit of preparing healthy meals in their own homes – and seeking opportunities to enjoy eating out at restaurants and cafes, as well.  ​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​1.  Our Mission at The Abbey is to improve the health and happiness of our clients through individualized and compassionate care.

Let’s understand why this Mission enhances successful outcomes.

To begin, please notice that we do not emphasize sobriety – even though that is one of our primary goals.  For most of our clients, their lives in addiction – the drinking and drug abuse, coupled with so many related problems – have made them miserable.  But we want more for our clients than mere abstinence from chemical dependency.​​​  

In our experience, successful Recovery is best achieved when people are healthy, happy, and fulfilled in their lives.  Therefore, as a clinical team, our principal goal is to help restore that health, happiness, and fulfillment in the lives of our clients. 


To achieve this goal of positive Recovery for our clients, The Abbey has developed a Patient-Centered System of Care.  This means that every aspect of our Program and every member of our Staff is focused on delivering individualized and compassionate care to our clients. 

In this way, Positive Sobriety is a by-product of living a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life in Recovery!

7. ​Continuum of Care; Continuing Care; [P]relapse Prevention

8. Family Programming

9. Holistic Therapies

10. Spirituality

11. High Quality, Safe & Secure Facility in a Serene Setting

​12. Meals & Nutrition

1. Our Mission

2. Treating Co-occuring Mental Health Concerns

3. Highly Qualified & Experienced Clinical Staff

4. Individualized & Compassionate Care

5. Treatment Modalities

6. 12-Step Foundation

  • Codependency
  • Intimacy Problems
  • Sexual Disorders
  • Gender-Specific Concerns
  • Sexual Orientation/Identity Concerns
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Mental Abuse
  • Anger Management
  • Mood Disorders              
  • Learning Disorders; Dyslexia; ADD; ADHD
  • Personality Disorders                    
  • Self Esteem Concerns                   
  • Narcissism

We are often asked why our Program at The Abbey is so well recognized for the effectiveness of our treatment as one of the best drug and alcohol rehab centers. Each year at The Abbey, we successfully treat hundreds of people who are suffering from addiction -- bringing much improved health, happiness, and fulfillment to their lives.


During our most recent on-site inspection and program review, the Iowa Department of Public Health assigned The Abbey a compliance score in excess of 98% -- which resulted in the extension of our license for the longest period of time authorized under state law.


​We employ the highest-caliber of clinical staff and utilize the most effective, evidence-based treatment protocols.

We believe that we have a number of core competencies that help improve the outcomes and long-term success for our clients.

Core Competencies

Program Director Karen Relf with U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack

Addiction Professional 

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The Abbey

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