Five Benefits of a Small Recovery Centre: Celebrating 15 Years of Recovery at Camino Treatment Facility

Fifteen years ago, in 2008, our journey began with a powerful vision.

Don Lavender, our programme director, has dedicated his life to addiction and psychiatric recovery across three continents, including working in several prestigious treatment centres. With a strong belief that “family systems work” in the addiction field, he combined his passion for equine therapy and his passion for addiction treatment. He envisioned a small recovery centre in the mountains of Spain that would treat each client with individualised care.

Don and his wife Meena, a bilingual family therapist, educated in the family programme at the Hazelden Centre in Minnesota, USA, were ready to turn the vision into reality.

They approached Meena’s son, Ameet Braich, to ask if he would be interested in opening a small Centre in Southern Spain.

Ameet had graduated from Hazelden in Minnesota with an MA in addiction counselling and psychotherapy. His interests were how early childhood trauma impacts insecure attachment relationships. He also completed training in EAP (equine-assisted psychotherapy), crisis intervention, and multicultural issues.

Don, Meena, and Ameet all agreed on one thing: they wanted a small, more intimate setting rather than the large hospital environments they had all been working in.

The first home they found was in San Pedro de Alcantara. This was a lovely location—close to the beach but located in Suburbia. They decided they needed a more private location and moved to El Paraiso, a more isolated Cortijo. In 2017, they moved to Velez Malaga, where Camino Recovery currently stands today. The setting is perfect—a breathtaking view of both the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the picturesque mountains.

Today, Camino Recovery has evolved into one of Europe’s premier trauma centres—a recognition we are proud of. Clients come to Camino from all over the world. Few are locals—most travel overseas to arrive at our magical, transformative centre for healing.

We attribute much of our success to keeping a family-like feel to our small centre and our continued growth in the fields of addiction and psychology. Additionally, we make clinical-based decisions at our centre that are not influenced by upholding our business. Every decision we make is based on the best interests of our clients.

As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we reflect on the profound impact of our small addiction and trauma recovery centre nestled in the heart of Spain.

Here are five invaluable benefits that define our successful approach:

1. Personalised care and attention

At Camino Recovery, personalised care and attention are the cornerstones of our approach to recovery.

We recognise that addiction recovery is never a “one-size-fits-all” scenario, and every client’s journey toward recovery is as unique as they are. Our small size allows us to provide personalised attention and care to meet the specific needs of every person who walks through our doors.

As soon as a client enters our centre, we embark on a collaborative treatment plan. Our dedicated team starts with comprehensive assessments to understand each client and meet them where they are. This in-depth evaluation informs the creation of a personalised treatment plan that addresses each client’s specific challenges, strengths, and goals.

Our approach involves a range of evidence-based therapies and specialised interventions, all uniquely tailored to meet the needs of each client. From Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy to equine therapy, our focus remains on understanding the complexities of trauma and addiction on an individual level.

Our personalised approach allows for adjustments or modifications to treatment plans as progress is made, ensuring that each individual receives care that is both effective and relevant. Our goal is always to make everyone feel safe at Camino—everyone belongs, and everyone has a place.

2. Tight-knit community

At Camino Recovery, we are proud that our small centre cultivates a sense of community that is unparalleled.

Perhaps part of this tight-knit feel is because Camino began as a family organisation, and we continue to foster the family atmosphere. We believe that healing flourishes within a supportive and connected environment. However, the bonds formed here are not merely between clients but extend to our dedicated team members.

Central to building these bonds is our emphasis on group therapy. Group therapy sessions serve as a platform for clients to share their experiences in a safe and confidential setting. Through these sessions, a sense of camaraderie develops as clients support and encourage each other—they realise they are not alone.

Beyond structured therapy, our centre emphasises family programme because we believe addiction is a family disease. Our family programme is unique to treatment centres—it includes four or five days where family members visit our centre and participate in their loved one’s therapy. Our family programme has proven successful for both our clients and our clients’ families who become involved in the healing process.

Our tight-knit community encourages support, understanding, and empathy, creating a safe space where clients’ lives are changed every day.

3. Holistic approach to healing

We understand that addiction and trauma affect every part of a person’s life, which is why we believe in treating the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.

Our commitment to holistic healing involves addressing these interconnected aspects of healing. To foster holistic healing, we see each client as the complete individual that they are and begin with a combination of therapies to address all aspects of their life. These therapies work together with the goals of:

  • Addressing underlying issues
  • Managing triggers
  • Reshaping thought patterns
  • Fostering mental and emotional resilience

We offer a wide range of evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, and EMDR therapy.  Our small centre also allows us to offer a comprehensive, holistic programme including:

  • Yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Energy work
  • Acupuncture and Tui Na
  • Nature trails
  • Gym
  • Nutrition therapy

From mindfulness exercises to art therapy sessions, each aspect contributes to a holistic approach that empowers our clients on their path to personal growth.

4. Our approach to trauma

Camino Recovery understands the link between trauma and addiction, which is why addressing trauma is a foundational approach to our holistic healing.

We recognise the impact of trauma—unresolved trauma changes brain functions, which then impacts an individual’s relationship with self and others. We recognise that trauma often underlies addiction, making it crucial to address the root causes of trauma in order to work toward lasting recovery. Our clinical team utilises combinations of evidence-based approaches to trauma, such as:

Above all, our addiction centre prioritises a compassionate and non-judgmental environment where clients feel safe to explore their trauma. By combining therapeutic interventions and supportive communities, we strive to guide individuals toward healing. We stand by our belief that “When you resolve the trauma, you resolve the problem.”

5. Long-term connections and continued support

A client’s treatment at our centre is only the beginning. For someone to achieve long-term sobriety, they need to be supported long after they have left our treatment centre.

Our relationships extend far beyond the completion of the programme at Camino. Alumni remain integral to our extended family, benefiting from free continuing care. The enduring connections forged within our small centre provide a sense of belonging for sustained recovery long after leaving our care.

Our commitment to ongoing support begins during the treatment phase, where we equip our clients with tools, coping strategies, and relapse prevention skills necessary for life after treatment. Additionally, we offer comprehensive free continuing care, which includes:

  • Free access to one morning a week outpatient services for a year
  • Comprehensive planning and support
  • Ongoing availability of our family programme
  • Bi-weekly alumni online group

As we celebrate this 15-year milestone, we extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who has entrusted us with their recovery journey.

Looking ahead, we remain dedicated to providing compassionate, individualised care to every person who walks through our doors. We embrace the future, committed to changing lives and fostering lifelong recoveries.

How can Camino Recovery Help?

We have fifteen years of helping people break from the strongholds of addiction and past trauma. If you or someone you know is seeking help, reach out. Our doors are always open, and our experienced team is ready to provide the compassionate care and personalised attention that has defined our centre for the past 15 years.

Join us in shaping the future of healing and addiction recovery. Together, we can make the next 15 years even more impactful. Contact us today for a confidential conversation to see how we can help you or your loved one. Take that first step—we are here for you.

Don Lavender

Don specialized in addiction studies, earning an MDiv and a master's in Management, Administration, and Counseling. As a priest, he supported Step 5s in local treatment centers for nearly 40 years, excelling in "family systems work" in the addiction field.

Additionally, Don pioneered equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) in the US and UK during the 1990s. He authored "Equine Utilized Psychotherapy: Dance with those that run with laughter" and gained media recognition, including appearances on 'the Trisha Show' and features in The Daily Telegraph.

In the early 2000s, Don and his wife, Meena, founded Camino Recovery in Spain, providing tailored addiction treatment programs aimed at fostering happier lives.

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