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Alumni Cathryn Kemp does all she can to help others with painkiller addictions

June 21st, 2017

Alumni Cathryn Kemp has been working tirelessly to get better help and understanding for people who become addicted to painkillers after revealing her own experience of dependence and subsequent detoxification at PROMIS in her book
“Coming Clean: Diary Of A Painkiller Addict by Cathryn Kemp (Little Brown, £10.99)”

Cathryn has also founded a charity “Painkiller Addiction Information Network”

About PAIN

With the recent news of TV’s Ant McPartlin’s brave steps to seek help for his own painkiller addiction, Cathryn has spoken to the Daily Mail today to share her own experiences and to offer encouragement to others with a similar plight.

You can read her inspirational story here:


Check back here for a link to an interview Cathryn recently gave me for another website providing help and advice….

Alumni Michael McDowell stands up for the needs of addicts

June 8th, 2017

I was proud as punch to read of the brave and tireless work that PROMIS alumni, Michael McDowell, is doing in getting help and support for addicts on the streets of Belfast

In a piece today in The Irish News, Michael was quoted as saying:

Michael McDowell, of drug outreach group Belfast Experts By Experience, described the waiting list as an “absolute disgrace”.

“These people have gone through hell just getting to a point where they actually ask for help,” he said.

“To then be told they have to continue risking their lives taking drugs for over a year and a half is unacceptable. This inequitable treatment in comparison to other health trusts must stop before it’s too late for many of them.

“These people are on their knees desperate for help and are quite literally dying for treatment.”

“Support, not punish”

Michael has been working tirelessly to reduce the shame and stigma that addicts experience, and to promote harm reduction methods in helping addicts.

When you see people on the streets with addiction problems, you witness how futile the concept of addicts needing to hit rock bottom really is. At this point it is critical that this damaging idea is abandoned and instead a practical approach is adopted that allows a relationship to be developed with the addicts and then a bridge offered, to help them back into health and wellbeing.

In the past, there has been an unnecessary oppositional attitude between the harm minimisation approach and those promoting abstinence. I believe instead that these opportunities exist on a continuum offering different help to people at different stages of their recovery.

I have asked Michael if he would be prepared to be interviewed about the work that he does now and I am pleased to report that he has agreed so more to follow shortly!


Interview with Clare Kennedy, founder of Kennedy St & Co

June 6th, 2017

Robin Lefever’s Interview with Clare Kennedy, founder of Kennedy St & Co


For many of us in recovery, the idea of going out to a bar is a terrifying prospect. Will I be laughed at for ordering an orange juice? Will the shelves stacked with spirit bottles be too tempting to resist?

But Brighton based entrepreneur Clare Kennedy has found a solution in Kennedy St, a meeting point where the message of recovery can be shared over a non-alcoholic drink, as Robin Lefever found out when he visited.


Edited by Laura Cox


ROBIN: Thank you so much for the invitation to your meeting at Kennedy St & Co CiC
Clare. Can you please tell me a bit about how you got it going and what the evenings are like?


CLARE: At Kennedy St we aim to address a variety of needs, whilst also contributing to positively de-stigmatising recovery & impacting our social culture blueprint. We will offer community, healthy lifestyle information, a safe space to be yourself, involvement, retraining, employment, and self-employment opportunities, showing that recovery and wellbeing are fun, real and attainable. After all, not drinking and using doesn’t stop us living, loving and thriving).
We currently have no funding, bid writing is not my area of expertise, but people achieving their very best, is. So we run our drybar party nights 4 times a year and are so very blessed at the moment to have [Brighton restaurant] Skyfall as our sponsors. They allow us to run our drybar party nights without charging us a rental, but of course, there are still costs we have to cover, so we are currently looking for sponsors or partners to work with so we can grow our community ideas. Of which we have many.

The idea of dry bars began in the United States where there is a long tradition of sobriety clubhouses and hangouts, often associated with 12-step programs. People gather to share soft drinks, food, play games and enjoy each other’s company. Dry bars have popped up all over the States, such as The Other Side in Illinois, The Counterfeit Bar in Arizona and The Shine in LA and New York which regularly sells out on alcohol-free events involving live music, meditation and film. Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Patients Suffering from Trauma using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

March 9th, 2015

Introduction to EMDR

The precise neural mechanism for how eye movements affect emotional status is unclear, but the fact is they do. It is almost as though a broad view of the horizon from left to right, and right to left also helps the mind to place events within the broader context, or for both hemispheres of the brain to work together.

Iemdr-eye-movementn some respects this is nothing new. We have all experienced the calming effects on a stressful day of going for a stroll in the countryside, enjoying the view from a hill-top or from looking out over the sea. However, in some instances such as child abuse, sexual assault, physical assault or other severe traumatic events the experience can become mentally ‘blocked’, and unless worked through – or ‘processed’ can become utterly debilitating.

EMDR now has an excellent evidence-base for demonstrating its effectiveness, in the right safe, therapeutic environment for treating patients who have suffered from these forms of trauma. Some senior psychologists have explained the therapeutic effect of eye movement in technical terms such as, “tasks, such as eye movements, that tax working memory during recollection of stressful memories attenuate their vividness and emotionality during subsequent recollection”. In plain English this means that EMDR therapists can help their patients to re-visit the situation without causing undue stress.

Is EMDR really different from CBT?

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the difference between Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and EMDR. As EMDR is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of unprocessed memories, treatment involves focusing simultaneously on the following:

  • Spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and,
  • Bilateral eye stimulation.

In this way EMDR reduces distress whilst also strengthening positive attributes that are related to the traumatic event. However, unlike CBT, EMDR does not involve detailed descriptions of the event, direct challenging of beliefs or extended exposure, or even the need for homework. Read the rest of this entry »

Gifting Connectedness

December 2nd, 2014

First prize: Help those less fortunate


season-to-giveAn extraordinary Catholic priest in Australia, Father Bob Maguire, is running a competition with a top prize that ‘guarantees happiness.’ 


He is is offering a third-placed prize of five nights in a chain of high-end hotels, with the second-placed prize being five flat-screen TVs. However, it’s the top prize that we applaud, and which resonates so strongly at this time of year:

The chance to work in one of the soup kitchens run via the Father Bob Foundation, which aims to feed and provide educational support to the homeless and disadvantaged.


Genius! Although the initiative is meant to draw attention to the serious homelessness problems in wealthy nations like Australia, there is also, within it, a timely acknowledgement of the value of getting out there and helping someone.

This is something we weave into the very essence and grammar of our work with our patients at PROMIS: meaningful, rewarding connection with others as the sunlight ready to break through the clouds of isolation and a sense of worthlessness.


Read the rest of this entry »

Movember shines a light to another worthy but unspoken cause

November 3rd, 2014

We are delighted to hear that the organiser’s behind the Movember movement are turning their focus this year to men’s Mental Health. See

It is our considerable experience that physical and mental health are not separate matters but two aspects of well-being and resilience that overlap and have a clear cause and effect relationship; they affect and contribute to each other.

In building resilience to mental health, and in treatment for Mental Disorders, we need to accept that both areas of our lives need focus and attention. Poor physical health increases the risk of people developing mental health problems, while poor mental health is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Hence our enthusiastic support of Movember’s excellent decision to include men’s mental health within the focus of a charity dedicated to men’s health. Read the rest of this entry »

“Nothing About Us Without Us!” – Moving Away From Criminalisation Of Addiction

October 30th, 2014

Addiction in the NewsIt has been impossible, today, to ignore the important findings of a recent Home Office report, which compared the UK’s approach to drug misuse with that of 13 other countries and concluded that there is no evidence that the criminalisation of drug use leads to a reduction in the problem. See, for example,

In simple terms, there is no evidence that punishing people for having a drug problem will actually stop them using. Those of us who work in this field have a responsibility to those who suffer from addiction, and their loved ones and our communities, to focus the debate on what does work.

Awareness, understanding, tackling the grass roots of addiction in our homes, schools and towns must not be derailed, and works, but, as we all know, so does treatment.


Read the rest of this entry »

Looking In From the Outside

January 19th, 2014

An experienced Recovery Coach from the States paid our Hay Farm clinic a visit and gave us an account of his observations that we are happy to share with you. We thank Dr. Ronald W. Hill for his kind and insightful thoughts.

ReHayFarmcently I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting the PROMIS residential treatment facility in rural Kent. As a counselor from New York City, I was curious about how drug and alcohol treatment was approached and carried out in the UK, as compared to treatment in the United States. I was delighted at what I witnessed at PROMIS for several reasons. However, before I go into the details of my experience at PROMIS, permit me to digress a little to give some idea of my background, working in treatment.


During my 20 year career I worked in a variety of treatment centers, with diverse patient populations. Those treatment centers included Hazelden and Cornerstone Medical Arts in Manhattan. Before moving to New York I worked in Portland, Oregon on the west coast at Lakeside-Milam, The Springbrook Institute and the DePaul Center. I also spent 3 years as a counselor at a treatment center located inside a prison, and 3 years as an Assessment Specialist for NADAP, also in Manhattan. I mention these treatment centers to indicate that I have had quite a variety of experiences working in treatment.


Read the rest of this entry »

Horticultural Therapy

March 26th, 2013

Orange tulipsSpring is hopefully just around the corner and so is a great prompt to introduce Horticultural Therapy to Hay Farm. We have such a beautiful setting here, with 12 acres of farm land, so it is perfect for those who feel that this therapy might help them.

Horticultural Therapy is an active process which engages individuals to connect with nature as a way of healing themselves. It is the use of gardening as a client-centred therapeutic tool to promote physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Throughout time, gardens have always been revered as a place of tranquility and peace and also considered as aesthetic expressions of beauty through art and nature. Just as we feel refreshed when walking through a forest or a field of flowers and experience a sense of joy when spring blooms, it is not hard to imagine how helping things grow and transforming an empty pot, field or land to a place of beauty can be very rewarding.

Among the many listed benefits of Horticultural Therapy such as enhancing positive mental attitude, reducing stress, alleviating depression, enhancing self-confidence, promoting gratification, developing cognitive skills and improving decision making, you are sure to discover your own unique benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power That Lies Within The Heart

January 2nd, 2013

The peace that passeth all understanding

The Heart is the messenger of Life, I discovered that with my spiritual partner Carmel in the summer of 2005 while working on the creation of a new spiritual workshop in a small cottage on the wild and beautiful Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Ireland. We had been earnestly working for several days on the different aspects of the workshop, when one day we seemed to move into a space of absolute confusion, which suddenly exploded within us in the form of resistance and anger. We found this shift so unbearable, that we both retired to our rooms to hopefully sleep it off. Little did we know that what was to happen, would change our understanding of Life completely. Read the rest of this entry »

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