Camino recovery Centre opened its doors on January 1st 2009 in an effort to provide a unique and bespoke treatment centre in the sun.
Motivated by a desire to create an intimate place offering a diverse spectrum of therapeutic interventions Camino was born and its first home was in San Pedro on the Costa Del Sol.
The Lavender-Braich family all had their individual stories and experiences with addiction and the destruction it can cause and wanted to collectively create a centre that was different.
Having experienced years working in some of the top centres in the world it was important that the family dynamic was at the heart of the Camino philosophy.
The family: Don Lavender
Don lavender began his career 40 years ago.
After some time with Community Psychiatric Corp, he went on to work in two of the premier treatment centres in the US before opening a treatment centre in Devon and introducing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to Europe (Telegraph Article 14th October 2003 ‘Putting Your Hopes on a Horse’).
He later consulted for European and Middle Eastern Centres including the Priory Hospital in London.
His wife Meena provided the business acumen having spent over twenty years in the banking sector.
Her passion lay in healing the family and was instrumental in establishing the five-day family program that Camino has become synonymous for.
Meena’s son Ameet found an aptitude for helping others and decided to make a career out of this.
After an engineering degree from UCL, he went back to School and spent time in Hazelden Centre Minnesota where he gained an MA in Addiction counselling.
He graduated summa cum laude and went on to work in one of the UK’s top treatment centres.
His sister Tanya always had a passion for working with people and pursued her education obtaining a BSc from Greenwich University in Psychology and Counselling before working in the field in Central London.
In 2008 they came together and decided that they wanted to amalgamate the best of their experiences into one Centre. Initially, the plan was to establish themselves in the home counties of UK.
It, however, became apparent as they discussed the idea that a venue in the sun would possibly serve clients better. Whilst Camino is focussed on establishing and maintaining the best clinical product, they understood that a warm, small and comfortable environment could be more conducive to a healing process.
Initially, they found
An opportunity to give back
The small family environment and the non-clinical ambience that the family wanted to create provided a breath of fresh air in a predominantly clinically dominated market.
They were determined that the primary motivation was and remained the helping of others and did not regard this as a business venture but an opportunity to give back.
In the first year, they were able to help many find recovery and gratitude. Many of them remain friends to this day.
Over five years and as the success of the program grew it was apparent, they were outgrowing the property and in 2014 moved to Estepona.
The new facility provided the opportunity to help more people in a beautiful location with a degree of comfort that their high-end clients expected.
The space of the grounds provided further opportunities for relaxation and exercise.
It was always a dream of the family to find a centre that could be adapted to accommodate horses. This would allow the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to take place on site and compliment the serene and peaceful retreat that was trying to be created.
New beginnings in Cortijo Fortaleza
In 2017 the opportunity arose, and Camino relocated to the impressive Cortijo that is now home.
In 2017 Ameet’s fiancé also joined the team.
Loren Eden came with a wealth of experience in a special needs school as a teacher after gaining a degree in Psychology. She now runs the administration of the centre together with being a point of contact for all family members during their loved ones stay at Camino.
Surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the Tejeda Mountains – and with the fort that defines the landscape as its neighbour – Cortijo Fortaleza- a ten acre, gated, hilltop retreat was transformed into the bespoke and luxurious facility it is now.
The main building provides a comfortable environment for clients to relax and offers seven bespoke en-suite bedrooms. The stables and outbuildings have been converted to provide a separate space in which to work individually and collectively with clients.
Work is underway to create a bespoke environment for the horses they plan to have on site. The Round pen greets you as you come through the gates and plans are afoot to build the facilities required.
The surrounding ten-acre hilltop (protected forest) provides a 1km walking track, walled garden with swimming pool and a helipad…just in case!
Over the last ten years, Camino has welcomed 100s of clients through their gates. Experience has taught them that vital to any therapeutic process is a safe environment and confidentiality is primary in maintaining that safety.
Many have found recovery and the greatest delight is to hear from past alumni who have blossomed to become the people they were supposed to be. Some return to share their experiences with current clients.
Not only is it a family concern but all its staff become family members and friends
The Centre is proudest of its family workshop component. In appreciating that addiction is a family disease Camino has established a bespoke five-day program that allows clients’ families to process and ultimately heal the rifts that addiction may have created between them.
“The best any of us can hope to do in this lifetime is to make a difference. If we can help a person and their family member that suffers.. then our job, our vocation is worth doing.”
Program director Don Lavender