Contact With God
For men and women (mixed- gender group) who desire
If healthy spirituality is foundational to long-term recovery, then it’s imperative that you take an in-depth look at the health of your spiritual connection. The Contact with God Workshop is a Christian-based (non-denominational) three-day experience solely focused on the health of your relationship with God. Contact With God is intended as a second-phase experience after an initial period of intentional recovery work.
IMPORTANT COVID UPDATE
All workshops are IN-PERSON at our facility in Nashville.
For the protection of participants and staff, everyone must provide proof of full vaccination, or either an antibodies test that shows prior infection or a negative PCR or antigen (rapid) test (at the individual’s expense) taken within 48 hours of coming to a Bethesda Workshop. Masks are optional, although encouraged, and all participants will have a roommate.
About the IN-PERSON Workshop
Early recovery efforts, full of therapy, support group meetings, and lifestyle changes make it impossible to muster the resources for a sustained look within. There is more to recovery than just getting sober or gaining clinical traction, and this more will come from your spirituality…your faith…your contact with God. Bethesda Workshops understands this progression and has created an opportunity for you to come away and reflect on the foundation of your recovery: your contact with God.
This workshop is distinctly Christian-based (non-denominational), and all who desire a Christian spiritual focus are welcome. While some instruction is provided, your encounters with God during the workshop will be the primary source of conversation and instruction.
While this workshop includes material that can have clinical application, it does not apply a therapeutic approach. This workshop is not clinical in nature and is not suited for those who seek resolution from traumatic life experiences or desire an advanced clinical experience.
The workshop includes practices and exercises that invite contact with God. Examples include personalizing scripture and using artwork to respond to it, engaging in Lectio Divina, times of silence, guided imagery, and other similar activities. After doing the exercise or activity individually, participants engage in small group discussions regarding those experiences. An individual session with the workshop leader is also included.
Participation is mixed-gender (males and females) and limited to a small number of people. All participants, including Middle Tennessee area residents, stay at a nearby hotel and are matched with a roommate.
- Must have attended a clinical treatment program for recovery from sexual addiction or partner betrayal such as the Bethesda Healing for Addicts or Healing for Partners Workshop (or other approved equivalent) prior to the Contact with God Workshop. Individuals in recovery from another behavioral addiction such as food or gambling or from substances are also welcome (both addicts and partners of addicts) provided they have completed some type of clinical program.
- Must embrace a recovery lifestyle and have solid recovery with a period of sobriety from addiction or a partner’s unhealthy coping. While it isn’t necessary to be currently sober to participate in the Contact With God Workshop, a lack of sobriety will impact your experience. You must be working recovery consistently, although not perfectly. All participants are required to abstain from all alcohol and other substances-of-abuse during the weekend.
- Must presently participate in a 12 Step or other equivalent group gatherings where you talk openly about the issues that led you to seek addiction recovery in the past.
- Must be able to manage your emotional reactivity and anxiety during the workshop.
- Model for Change
- God’s Design for Relationships
- Five Areas of Functioning
- Legalism/Grace and Hearing God’s Voice
- Attunement and Prayer/Noticing God
- Treasures of the Heart
- Multiple experiential activities/exercises
The Contact With God Workshop was created and is led by Dolores (Dee) Parlato, who has specific training and certification in spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition. In addition to her clinical training as a licensed professional counselor, Dee completed training as a Spiritual Director at The Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, PA, in 2012. Along with her clinical work, she provides monthly spiritual direction and directed silent retreats. Dee also completed the Renovare International Spiritual Formation Institute, a two-year program for Christian spiritual formation and transformation, in July 2011.
Dee has facilitated with Bethesda Workshops for over a decade in the Healing for Women, Healing for Partners, and Healing for Couples workshops. After retiring in 2002 from the Navy as a photojournalist, Dee received her MA in counseling from Columbia International University (2006), and a Biblical Ministry Certificate also from Columbia International University (2007). She works with The Christian Counseling Center of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.
Important Workshop Details
- Workshop Format
- Technology Free Environment
- Lodging & Meals
- Travel & Flight Information
- Workshop Leaders
- What to Bring
This is an individual experience that is done in a group setting. While there are some teaching segments, most of the time is spent engaging personally – individually – in spiritual practice. After most activities or spiritual practices, the participants will process as a group. One individual session with the leader is part of the weekend. Sessions normally begin at 8:30 am and end around 8 pm. The workshop is mixed gender – men and women attend together.
The workshop is a technology-free setting that we call the “Bethesda Bubble.” Participants take a total time-out from contact with the outside world, including family and friends, by turning in all electronic devices – cell phones, laptops, smart watches, tablets, iPads, etc. – for the duration of the workshop. Participants refrain from watching tv in their hotel rooms and are not allowed to make or receive calls or use the business center at the hotel.
Participants are required to arrange all work and home responsibilities before arriving so that they are totally off the grid during the duration of the workshops. Communicating with anyone or any type of work-related activity is not permitted, including during overnight hours. If participants aren’t willing to be completely disconnected from work and home, they are encouraged to attend a future workshop when they can dedicate time.
If you’re concerned about not talking with minor children, we suggest you leave notes that can be opened each day you’re gone or leave video messages the child can listen to.
Bethesda Workshops will provide participants with emergency contact information to share with immediate family so that you can be reached in the event of a serious family emergency. Staff will not interrupt your process for a work-related situation.
The workshops are held in Nashville, Tennessee. All participants (including Nashville area residents) stay together in a nearby hotel. This total time-out from normal responsibilities and distractions is an important “container” for the intensive work.
Each person shares a room with another workshop participant; there are no private rooms. Having a roommate forces you to break the isolation that’s part of the picture for both addicts and partners. It also provides accountability and safety. It’s wise to bring ear plugs in case your roommate snores. All hotel rooms are non-smoking, and smoking is only permitted in a designated outside area at Bethesda Workshops.
The hotel has a small exercise room you may use before breakfast or late evenings when you return from the workshop. You aren’t allowed to leave the hotel to use another exercise facility like the YMCA or a health club.
The Bethesda Workshops staff will handle your hotel reservation, and all lodging and meals are included in your workshop fee. If you have to stay over the day the workshop ends or need to arrive a day early, the Workshop Coordinator can arrange lodging at your expense at the workshop site. Meals during the times before and after a workshop are also at your expense.
Participants eat breakfast at the hotel, which is a complimentary buffet of continental and hot items. Lunch and supper are served at Bethesda Workshops. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and a green salad are available daily. Lunch is usually some kind of hearty sandwich, salad or soup; and supper is a meat entree with vegetables and salad. Dessert or sweets are limited to the supper meal. Beverage choices include coffee, soft drinks, iced tea, and water.
Bethesda Workshops can accommodate a vegetarian or gluten-free diet with advance notice. You must make your own arrangements for vegan meals or other special dietary needs by bringing food that can be quickly prepared in a microwave, if necessary. A refrigerator and freezer are available.
It’s critically important that you be present for the entire workshop. As a group intensive, everyone needs to begin and end together. You WILL NOT be admitted to the workshop if you plan your travel in such a way that you arrive late or leave early, even if that means you get to Nashville the day before the workshop starts or leave the day after it ends. You shortchange yourself and disrupt the workshop process if you arrive late or leave early.
It’s in your best interest to arrive rested. Please arrange to arrive the day before the workshop instead of flying overnight or leaving at dawn to travel the day of the workshop. Don’t arrive exhausted before these intense, long days.
Once you register for a workshop, a Travel Arrangements Form is one of the documents you’ll receive, and it provides space for you to communicate your travel plans and lodging needs to the Bethesda Workshops staff.
Bethesda Workshops will be prepared to welcome participants beginning at 8:40 am Central time. You should arrive no later than 8:50 am.
The Contact with God workshop ends at 4:00 pm on Saturday, and participants are free to leave then. Don’t schedule a flight before 4:30 pm at the earliest.
Transportation from the airport is provided, and participants carpool back and forth from the conference hotel. There’s no need to rent a car.
If a participant is flying, Nashville is the destination airport (airport code BNA).
The Contact With God Workshop was created and is led by Dolores (Dee) Parlato, who has specific training and certification in spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition. In addition to her clinical training as a licensed professional counselor, Dee completed training as a Spiritual Director at The Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, PA, in 2012. Along with her clinical work, she provides monthly spiritual direction and directed silent retreats. Dee also completed the Renovare International Spiritual Formation Institute, a two-year program for Christian spiritual formation and transformation, in July 2011. She works with The Christian Counseling Center of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.
Bring clothes for three days, personal toiletries, medicine, and any other essentials you’ll need. Plan to dress in layers and bring a light jacket or sweater even during warm weather, because some people find the meeting rooms cold. You are encouraged to bring a Bible, a journal, recovery related reading or personal devotional materials. It’s helpful to bring a watch since you won’t have your cell phone. We’ll provide everything you’ll need during the workshop itself, including a workbook, paper and pen.
Participants are not permitted to use cell phones, laptops, tablets and similar items at the workshop. Please do travel with a cell phone so you can communicate with us in case there are travel difficulties. Staff will collect all cell phones and other electronics and keep them until the workshop ends. No weapons are allowed at the workshop site, at the conference hotel, or in participant vehicles.
Some participants are highly sensitive and/or allergic to perfume, cologne, and essential oils. We ask that you not use any fragrances of essential oils during your time at the workshop, including at the hotel. Please leave them at home.
Participants are encouraged to continue spiritual practices which they find meaningful. If you aren’t already receiving spiritual direction, you might find that guidance helpful.