A calm environment and mixed-modality therapies create a supportive environment that promotes renewal, restoration and healing. CONTRIBUTED

When Dr. Laura Tanzini started Kinder in the Keys (KIK) Treatment Center in July 2018, she already had been in the trauma-therapy industry for 30 years. 

After a vacation to the Keys, she ended up staying five months. She left before Hurricane Irma but felt the need to come back to the islands. KIK was born and has been offering unique, integrated treatment approaches to health and wellness ever since.

“Trauma is anything that causes a loss or a grief for people,” Tanzini said.

Traumatic experiences can include getting a bad grade in school or the loss of a pet to abuse, molestation or rape. It also can include natural disasters, like Hurricane Irma, and the aftermath of recovering and rebuilding, Tanzini said.

Even after traumatic events have ended, deep parts of the mind continue to respond to similar triggers, she said. Repressed feelings from the trauma can block new relationships and healthy behaviors and affect thinking and emotions.

Tanzini and the therapists and practitioners at KIK work to help clients resolve their past traumas and create healthier habits and thought patterns in various areas of their lives. Through trauma resolution workshops that KIK specializes in, clients are given the opportunity to rewrite past pain, to change their present and future.

KIK’s clients are adult women recovering from trauma and trauma-related disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD or eating, obsessive-compulsive and panic disorders.

The healing program focuses on renewal and developing necessary coping skills to deal with past traumas. Clients can opt for an intensive outpatient program, partial hospitalization, short term residential (less than 30 days) and long term residential (longer than 30 days). Clients come from around the country (and locally too) and usually stay for 4 to 8 weeks, Tanzini said.

The program caters to the individual needs of each client. 

“We do treatment plans for each person,” Tanzini said. “Everybody has a different trauma, and they may need different therapies. Because we are small, we can do a lot of individualized treatment. We practice all kinds of different modalities.”

KIK takes advantage of its location in the Keys to offer a full range of services and therapies, including dolphin therapy with resident dolphins at nearby Island Dolphin Care, service dogs and miniature horses that patients interact with, music and art therapy (sometimes from within the on-site pool), and outings into the community to local beaches, Key West and Shell World. KIK also works with local dive shops and captains to take clients out for snorkeling on local reefs.  

“We have a local painter who comes on hot days and sits in the water and helps our clients paint,” Tanzini added. “I love watching the women get strong balancing on paddle boards doing warrior poses. We also have two health practitioners who help them cook very good, healthy food ‒ all organic, non-GMO.”

She noted, “Above all, this is a place people can go to heal.” 

The one thing KIK doesn’t offer is substance abuse treatment like 12-step programs. It’s not uncommon for those recovering from drug and alcohol abuse to also have gone through traumatic experiences before or during their addiction, but KIK recommends potential clients learn to manage and cope with their substance abuse before engaging in trauma work.

“Otherwise, it’s useless,” Tanzini said. “It can be a past issue, but it can’t be an active issue.”

Tanzini believes KIK is the only women-only trauma-treatment center in the country that doesn’t allow substance-abuse. For many who have gone through traumas, 12-step-style programs are ineffective or inappropriate treatments, and no other center she is aware of offers this approach to trauma resolution. This also allows KIK to offer medicine management, which is prohibited at many addiction centers, Tanzini said.

Tanzini’s goal for all her clients is that they live happy, healthy lives free of panic attacks, abnormal depression, PTSD and flashbacks, she said. She also hopes that when something bad happens, they can fall back on the coping mechanisms they learned at KIK. KIK accepts insurance or private payments. For more information on KIK, call 800-545-4046 or email [email protected].

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