Swanson Lodge Retreat


This year’s Clinicians Retreat was attended by 8 trauma clinicians (4 Vet Center, 1 VAMC, 3 Private Practice) and 2 interns, all who work with combat Veterans.  The first day of the retreat (Friday) started with lunch and an informal “meet and greet”.  This was followed by facilitated introduction activities which encouraged more in-depth sharing.  This was followed by participation in a Native American Sweat Lodge Healing Ceremony with a focus on clinicians off-loading many of the toxins they had picked up along the way in their clinical work.  Following the sweat, participants partook in a taco bar and a bit of down time.  The day ended with a “Fire Circle” group dynamic that included intention-setting and an encouragement for open sharing, something often difficult for clinicians.

Saturday started with stretches and movement entitled  “Morning Mobility”.  After breakfast, participants traveled to Kootenai Falls and suspension bridge for a spectacular hike, sack lunches in hand.  Upon return from the hike in early afternoon, participants were invited to observe and participate in a naming ceremony for Dante and Terra’s son, Sandro, who now also bears the name, Little Badger.  Once this ceremony concluded, clinicians were invited to participate in a collage art project.  In this project, these practitioners were encouraged to divide their poster board into four segments: Who they really are, why they became clinicians, ways in which the work has affected them, what next steps in personal growth and wellness look like for them as individuals.  After these collages were completed, a number of clinicians participated in a second Native American sweat lodge, again with an emphasis on personal healing.  Dinner followed soon thereafter.  That evening, another “Fire Circle” group dynamic took place with an emphasis on clinicians sharing their collage art projects. This task led into deeper processing and discussion.

Sunday morning again started with morning mobility and breakfast.  After breaking camp, participants convoyed to Ross Creek Cedar Grove for a nature walk amongst giant cedars and rock alters.