What is the goal or purpose for this experience?
The goal is for women to step out of the daily grind into a safe, relational space where they can examine the patterns that have led to dysfunction. They will express and find healing for painful emotions and begin the process of changing thoughts that have been the driving force in their approach to life thus far.
Is there a specific age or type of woman for which Phenix retreats are designed?
All ages, ethnicities, and education levels are welcome! The greater the diversity in our group, the wider the experiences and insight each person can draw from for their own growth. Phenix retreats are grounded in the Christian faith so an open-ness to that worldview is required but it does not matter where you are in your faith journey. If you believe in or are interested in knowing Jesus, you are invited to join us. We are happy to work with women attending from outside the Central Florida area as well. The group will consist of 8-12 women and will be closed, meaning you are with the same women from beginning to end of the retreat.
How am I expected to participate during the retreat?
A schedule for each day of the retreat can be found at the “Schedule” link above. There you will see a variety of activities to fill your time. The days will pass quickly so it will be important that you take full advantage of every session. It is expected that you will attend every activity, as you are paying for a carefully designed program led by highly qualified facilitators. Along these lines, an important aspect of Phenix retreats is the complete disconnect from technology. Participants will be expected to forgo all use of communication technology so that they can fully participate in the intense emotional, cognitive and spiritual processes of the retreat. Introverts will have ample opportunity to quietly reflect during bible study, prayer, meal, exercise, free, educational and praise/worship times. Participants are free to participate quietly or to engage verbally as they see fit during these times. For instance, participants will not be required to pray or read aloud. Social times are optional though recommended. During therapy sessions however, full engagement is paramount to achieving the transformation Phenix is designed to foster. Participants should expect to step out of their comfort zone, verbalizing their emotions and thought processes. Also, one of the most powerful aspects of group therapy is the authentic feedback given and received by all. Participants will learn to share how they are personally affected by the other group members, effectively providing a “mirror” which enables each person to understand how they impact those around them. Many times, giving this kind of feedback is a new experience…learning to do so effectively is a skill that brings lasting change to relationships “back home”. It can also be a new experience to hear truth about oneself from others, offering a compelling opportunity to increase self-awareness and jump start personal transformation!
What are my rights and responsibilities during the retreat?
You have the right to set your own personal boundaries for interaction with other group members, to leave the retreat at any time and to notify Phenix staff of any issues of discomfort you may have. Since there is no opportunity for someone to take your place once the retreat has begun, there are no refunds offered to participants who do not complete the experience. It is your responsibility to participate in every session and contribute to the group as described above, in order to receive the most out of the experience; to speak up if you have concerns and to create a safe space for other members to share within the group.
What are the rights and responsibilities of Phenix staff?
Your leaders have the right to block any behaviors in the group they deem to be unproductive or unsafe and to offer feedback on how they are affected by you in the group both (preferably) in group and privately. It is the leader’s responsibility to guide the group toward productivity and to set and enforce the boundaries that create safety for each member.
What about confidentiality?
All of the Phenix staff are bound to privacy rules which strictly prohibit them from disclosing any personal information shared by any participant. There are specific exceptions to this confidentiality:
- For purposes of supervision, Phenix staff may consult with outside experts to obtain professional guidance in handling a specific situation that may arise during the retreat. These consultations will not reveal the identity of a retreat participant.
- If any evidence of a direct threat to self or an identified other emerges in the group, that must be shared with the appropriate parties to prevent harm.
- Any information regarding the abuse or neglect of minors or other vulnerable parties (as defined by the state of FL) must be reported to the proper authorities.
Any notes kept regarding the group will be stored by Phenix Counseling under the rules and regulations established by the state of Florida for Licensed Mental Health Counselors. You are expected to keep everything that is shared within the group confidential. This is imperative because the group cannot function if there is any concern that personal information will be shared with outsiders. There is no guarantee that every member of the group will abide by the confidentiality rule, but Phenix staff are committed to enforcing this expectation, including asking a participant to exit the retreat if necessary. The emotional safety of every participant is the highest priority.
What are the guidelines again for outside contact?
One of the key components of the Phenix retreat is the opportunity to completely disconnect from your regular world and truly focus on your own emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. As women, we are often caught up in caring for everyone else but ourselves. This is commonly a main reason that we cannot make progress. Thus, it is expected that while at the retreat, all electronic devices will be completely turned off and put away. There are no phones in the rooms and no internet access on the grounds. You will be given the opportunity to turn in your devices at the opening luncheon as the temptation to “check in” can be too overwhelming. You will be given a contact number for friends and family to utilize if there is a true emergency. This boundary alone can be transformative in itself – teaching you and your loved ones how to respect your need for self-care.
If I run into a problem during the retreat, what do I do?
Since Phenix is designed to be a group event, participants should not expect to receive individual sessions. However, we are happy to provide short brainstorming consults to address issues that may pop up. These consults can take place with any Phenix staff member and should be requested during meal times. The consult would then take place during the free hour so as not to disturb the activities of the day.
What kinds of techniques or procedures will Phenix staff members use?
Each staff member is unique in their approach, bringing you a wealth of variety throughout the retreat. One consistent strategy will be a gentle boldness to mirror back to you, what is being observed in your behavior and verbalized thoughts as well as challenging questions designed to help you explore alternative perspectives on your experience. You can expect spiritual discussions to be respectful and diverse. Phenix staff believe in the power and activity of the Holy Spirit but shy away from actively pursuing purely emotional experiences. Therapy times will provide the structure needed for every member to be heard and to do their personal work. Activities can include sharing in pairs or with the entire group. Creative sessions will offer a variety of choices so that participants can express themselves with materials and tools of their choosing. You will usually be given an opportunity to share what you have experienced during the creative assignments. Workouts will be designed for a beginner level with adjustments offered for those who want to increase intensity. Psycho-education will focus on teaching cognitive behavioral therapy principles and techniques in a workshop format with opportunities to field questions and exercises to apply the information to your own thought processes. Praise and worship will be a blend of contemporary praise music and classic hymns.
What can I realistically expect from this retreat?
Phenix is intended to provide psychotherapy in a group format that can facilitate significant shifts in how you see yourself and your relationships. These shifts can free you to return to your regular life with a new perspective, a new lens through which you see everything. The educational sessions are designed to equip you with the tools needed to translate insight into behavior change. You will leave the retreat with an action plan – concrete steps you intend to take to obtain different results than you were achieving before you attended. Bible study, praise/worship and quiet times are designed to strengthen your relationship with the One who will empower you to think and act differently when you return home. Creative sessions offer the opportunity for emotional expression which opens the door for healing of past hurts and traumas. Phenix provides a safe container to unpack the baggage you have carried for years, practical tools you can take back to your regular life and the intensity of “iron sharpening iron” through authentic engagement with others. All of this however, is only as effective as your commitment to carrying the results home with you and implementing the changes that need to be made. To assist with this difficult process, participants will be invited to a follow-up group meeting to assess progress and will receive a monthly newsletter with reminders and resources for change.
What are the risks to participating in this retreat?
Potential consequences of participating in this retreat can include disturbances to your personal relationships should you choose to make changes in the way you interact with others. Even when relationships are dysfunctional, human nature is drawn to the status quo and your attempts to improve communication and interactions may be met with hostility and an unwillingness to adjust. Also, the intensity of the retreat will “stir up” personal pain which you will need to process. Such processing is not an enjoyable experience and you will be tempted to run away – physically or at least emotionally. Courage is required to cross the rough seas of emotional pain to the shore of healing and peace. You may need to seek the services of a professional counselor after the retreat to continue the process. Referrals to providers in your area will be provided at the end of the retreat. A treatment summary of your experience at the retreat can be provided to your therapist, should you choose to continue your work after the retreat.
What is my first step to participating in a Phenix retreat?
Click on the “Contact” link above. Use the information there to email us with your interest. You will receive questionnaires for providing information about yourself that will help us determine if this experience is right for you. There is no financial commitment at this stage.
What comes next?
You will receive an email that will let you know if the Phenix retreat might be a good fit for you. If so, a personal appointment would be the next step. Face to face is preferred, but appointments via VSee are possible for those not in the Central Florida area. At this appointment, Dr Dyben will conduct a standard counseling intake to further confirm that the Phenix retreat will be helpful to you and she will answer any questions you may have about the experience. There is a $80 charge for this intake appointment which can be applied to the cost of the retreat. Once it is determined that the retreat is a great fit, you will be invited to an informational meeting. You will learn details about how to prepare for the retreat, what to expect from Phenix staff and from yourself during the retreat, how the retreat will enhance your personal relationships, possible stumbling blocks, retreat guidelines, and what group therapy is all about. Once you have attended this meeting (in person or virtually), you will have the information you need to make a commitment to attending the retreat. A deposit will be required to hold your spot.