by Carrie Jackson
For over 30 years, New Vitae Wellness and Recovery (NVWR) has been caring for individuals and families in BuxMont that are experiencing behavioral health challenges. Headquartered in Quakertown, with a wide array of services and locations, NVWR is unique as they place value on the connection between the mind, body and spirit, as well as their inclusive, integrative approach and commitment to ending the stigma associated with mental illness. This philosophy is carried through the culture of all of their organizations, including comprehensive residential treatment, outpatient services, personal care homes, young adult services, addiction services, co-occurring behavioral health/drug and alcohol services and supported apartment living services in multiple locations, including urban and suburban.
Rik Fire, a licensed clinical social worker with a Masters of Social Work degree, is a therapist at NVWR. His role includes facilitating a number of groups at the Recovery Center in addition to seeing clients one-on-one. “We tailor the groups toward what our population needs at any given time. We offer a variety of group therapies, including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skills training,” he explains. “DBT is a cognitive behavioral approach that focuses on practical life skills and has been proven effective in treating people with suicidal and borderline personality disorders, as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. We also offer groups for smoking cessation and dual diagnoses, such as alcohol and drug addiction.”
In addition to being a licensed clinical social worker, Fire is also a reiki master and sacred healer who incorporates aspects of these modalities into his work with clients when it is appropriate. “We offer a yoga nidra group and a mindfulness group that incorporate guided imagery and meditation. Many of our clients are experiencing complicated issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, psychotic disorders and other mental health issues. Learning to be grounded, present and experience what someone is going through without judgment can be very transformative and healing.”
NVWR creates a personalized, comprehensive recovery plan for each person that includes an integrative team of specialists. “Everything we do at New Vitae is person-centered, starting with the initial evaluation through a comprehensive treatment and recovery plan with ongoing follow up. We support a healthy mind, body, spirit and energy for all of our clients,” says Fire. “Depending on their specific needs, individuals may benefit from art therapy, tutoring, nutritional therapy, vocational training, an exercise program, peer support, family therapy or spiritual guidance, all offered through NVWR.”
NVWR recently began offering deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, or dTMS. An exciting addition to the treatment options available for patients with depression, dTMS is an option for people that do not find relief from depressive symptoms through antidepressants or other techniques.
Andrew Amick, a registered nurse and the director of wellness at the Recovery Center, works closely with the dTMS program. Amick explains, “dTMS is a state-of-the-art technology that stimulates the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where depression is thought to originate, with magnetic coils. A session lasts only 20 minutes, and if a person responds positively to the treatments, they are usually prescribed 36 sessions for maximum benefit. We complement this service with behavior therapy, talk therapy or whatever else the client needs to feel supported. In general, the results have been dramatic and transformative and have greatly improved the quality of life for individuals whose daily activities were severely depleted by their depression.”
Theresa, a Natural Awakenings reader and active member of her Quakertown community, began dTMS treatments after a flare-up of her chronic depression. “Previously, I had been on a lot of medication for my depression, which was addictive and ineffective. After my mom died last year, I was really suffering and struggling; I was crying all the time.” After encouragement from her boyfriend, Theresa decided to reach out to New Vitae. “I read that New Vitae took a holistic approach to treatment and decided to try it. The team at New Vitae was great; it was just like going to see a friend.” Her treatments have resulted in a major reduction in her depressive symptoms, increased energy and contentedness. “I feel great; I don’t know where I’d be without this treatment,” she adds.
NVWR is very active in the community and partners with a number of other organizations in the surrounding area, including those that serve special populations. “We work closely with veterans and individuals that identify as LGBT, and others that may feel disenfranchised,” says Fire. Individuals that are transitioning from inpatient to outpatient programs are often paired with social service agencies, vocational programs, schools, volunteer opportunities or other services to support their ongoing healing and wellness.
In addition, New Vitae regularly hosts educational sessions and open houses, and they recently developed the New Vitae Wellness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to provide educational outreach and improve the health and well-being of the community. The foundation recently hosted Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor, at Quakertown Community High School, where he spoke of the need to discuss behavioral health symptoms and to fight the stigma associated with treatment and recovery.