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Questions about who should attend the STAR Retreats

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Since the mid-1970s, people from all over the world and all walks of life have attended STAR Retreat workshops. Participants have included therapists, mental health professionals, physicians and surgeons, business leaders, attorneys, engineers, teachers, elected officials, political consultants, parents, students, musicians, writers, and more.

The reasons for coming to a STAR Retreat are as varied as the people attending. They include those who are dealing with or experiencing one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, low self esteem, personal or professional burnout, relationship issues, grief and loss, personal growth, anger issues including anger management, codependent behavior, loss of life’s meaning and purpose, life transitions, personal crisis, feeling “stuck” in one’s process, blocked creativity, addictive and compulsive behaviors, trauma or PTSD, and stress.

We do not accept individuals who are unable to physically care for themselves, those who are a danger to themselves or others, and those who are actively abusing drugs or alcohol. We do not accept clients who have a severe psychiatric diagnosis such as schizophrenia or multiple personality. The STAR Retreat is not a hospital setting in any sense of the word. There are no full care units and we are not licensed to prescribe and dispense medications.

STAR Retreat is unique for a multitude of reasons. Our retreat is experiential (with some talk therapy); we use many varied and effective modalities in our process; we create and maintain a very safe and trusting environment; and we maintain an almost 1:2 participant to staff ratio.

Many people, who have experienced very little change after long-term psychotherapy, have enjoyed amazingly rapid progress through the STAR Retreat. Many therapists refer clients to our program who simply need to get “unstuck” or who would benefit from intensive work on their core issues. Their clients benefit from being able to deeply and continuously engage in their work 24/7 while at a STAR Retreat, as opposed to the “stop and start” nature of outpatient therapy.

Talk therapy is simply talking about what is bothering you. This can help you spot things that are causing problems in your life. Through discussion, you can find ways to handle your problems so that the same issues won’t continually disrupt your life.

Experiential therapy goes a lot deeper. The goal is to free a person from the unresolved emotions so that he or she becomes freer to live in the present. Experiential therapy uses recognized processes to enable the enactment or reenactment of the emotional climate of the family of origin and/or other past significant relationships and events. In re-examining them, you are able to feel those feelings now, work through them now and defuse them once and for all. The released emotional pain is no longer repressed and allowed to fester.

A STAR Retreat is completely congruent with, and complimentary to, 12-Step programs. Our program directly addresses issues of codependency and addiction within the context of our developmental, experiential process. Exploring the roots of compulsion may serve to temper addictive impulses. Many of our graduates are in 12-Step programs. They use their STAR Retreat experience as a way to deepen and enhance their recovery. Other graduates have joined 12-Step groups after their participation, as a way of continuing the recovery they began while attending our program. .

Optional 12-Step groups are available at each STAR Retreat. You will be supported in your recovery program during your stay.

We do not recommend that you participate in a STAR Retreat with family members or friends. It is important for you to have this time for yourself and be able to do your own work without consideration for anyone else in your environment.

Program Details

The STAR staff is made up of individuals from all walks of life—professional therapists and social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, body workers, nurses, attorneys, business people, etc. All members of our staff are STAR graduates and have completed the STAR Foundation Training Program.

Each STAR Retreat has approximately 1 staff member for every 2 participants, with a comparatively intimate group size. This is by far the richest staff-to-participant ratio of any remotely similar program.  Our emphasis is upon providing an environment in which each participant has an opportunity to get what he or she needs. We are dedicated to maintaining this level of individualized attention so that we can always offer each participant a uniquely personal experience. While there are opportunities each day to work with a wide range of facilitators, every participant is carefully matched with a facilitator in order to guide their experience every day of the program.

A typical group is 18 to 24 people consisting of both men and women, and ranges in ages from 18 into late adulthood.

STAR Retreats are a blend of techniques from mainstream psychotherapy with holistic and transpersonal approaches. The process mostly occurs in a group setting; yet it is highly individualized. The STAR Retreat includes experiential therapies (see “What is experiential therapy?”), integrative breathwork, emotional release work, journaling, intensive writing assignments, cognitive exercises, art projects, ego-state psychology, family of origin exploration, and  a variety of other creative and innovative approaches to healing.
The result is an intensive, deeply nurturing process that literally transforms lives. Participants are supported in exploring and healing their deepest psychological and spiritual wounds in a completely safe and supportive environment.

STAR is an individual process done in a group setting. It is a carefully structured retreat that encourages participants to work in an individual fashion while providing many opportunities for group interaction. Mornings are typically spent checking in with one’s facilitator, or working on daily writing assignments. All work is designed to help uncover and heal early decisions and negative experiences which are still powerfully affecting one’s life.

There are two group meetings each day which include lectures, guided imagery, and sessions in which participants have the opportunity to deeply experience and express their feelings. An integrative breathwork session is also provided as a way of directly accessing and experiencing the unconscious.

Small break-out groups are scheduled almost daily to discuss and process the day’s assignments; optional groups such as 12-Step and Grief are offered throughout the retreat; an art room is available round the clock; and body work is available at an extra charge.

There is time for walking, jogging, swimming, and bird watching. Free time, however, is very limited; most find the STAR schedule very full.

A good deal of the unique power of a STAR Retreat is derived from the fact that participants are relieved of their usual daily life burdens in a completely supportive environment. Participants are therefore able to focus completely on themselves 24/7. This results in an unparalleled opportunity to deeply explore core issues. You are free to do the kind of intensive work required to fully heal and move on into a freer, happier, more joyous, and more present-focused existence.

The residential nature of a STAR Retreat facilitates healing and creates an environment which supports significant positive bonding with staff and the foundation for lifelong friendships with participants.

The STAR Retreat is a uniquely complete in-depth approach to individual healing. Our experience has taught us that much of adult unhappiness, dysfunctional patterns, addictive behaviors, and spiritual crises are rooted in the negative messages and experiences of our early childhood. Our program seeks to identify and heal these wounds through a combination of highly effective therapies, including modalities that connect with the very earliest traumas and patterns. We believe that these very early incidents, (that many other programs often do not address), offer profound answers as to what may be affecting the participant’s life.

The rich staff-to-participant ratio is unparalleled and offers the flexibility and opportunity for each participant to meet his or her particular needs. Finally, the length of the program in the context of the incredible milieu of processes and support enables participants to go much deeper into their issues than in any other similar programs. Time and again, the result is a highly effective and transformative experience.

Administrative Details

Simply call the STAR Foundation office at 520-398-3105. We will answer your questions and set up an appointment for a telephone interview with one of our therapists. The interview usually takes 45 to 60 minutes.

Once you have decided to enroll in one of our programs, a deposit of $800 will be required to reserve your place, and you will be given instructions regarding travel plans and your online forms, which need to be completed 3 weeks in advance of your STAR Retreat.

Your balance will be due, at the latest, 30 days before the start of your retreat. It is important to note that we enroll on a first come, first serve basis. Your place is not guaranteed until you have paid the tuition in full or made other payment arrangements with our Administrative Director.

We highly recommend that you give us permission to communicate with your therapist. We consider ourselves to be part of your treatment team. Communicating with your therapist both prior to and after the STAR Retreat creates a continuity of care that enhances your healing process. We find that the benefits of the STAR Retreat experience are significantly maximized by participants who return to therapy following their STAR Retreat.

Two months is usually safe, however we recommend calling the STAR Foundation office well in advance of that time frame, as workshops can fill fast. We always work hard to meet the needs of late enrollees.

Facility and Logistics

STAR Retreats are held at Rancho De La Osa in the beautiful high desert grasslands of Sasabe, Arizona. We have exclusive use of this property during our retreats and is a private, comfortable location with a very supportive and helpful staff. Many participants share with us how the physical environment helps their process—warm sun, swimming pool, nice accommodations, and gardens all set in the meditative and peaceful high desert of Southern Arizona.

Participants will need to fly in to Tucson, Arizona. (TUS). Ground transportation is is arranged by the STAR Foundation and provided by Rancho de la Osa.  The charge for your ground transportation is $175, round trip, including gratuity. All details related to travel will be provided in your pre-retreat information.

Accommodations are double occupancy. Single rooms are available on a very limited basis. Please note that a single room supplement is charged by Rancho de la Osa, and those requesting singles must be approved by our Clinical Director.

We strongly encourage participants to focus on themselves while at the STAR Retreat; connections with the outside via phone calls or email have been found to interfere with your personal process. We understand that you may need to briefly check in at home or work. But we very strongly recommend that all contact be necessary, brief and kept to a bare minimum. It’s your process and we want you to have the very best opportunities for healing.

Menus vary and usually include poultry, meat, or fish as an entrée—as well as vegetarian options. The chef is apprised in advance of any allergies or food restrictions so that all of your specific dietary needs will be met.


A strict policy of confidentiality is maintained by all staff. Participants are also asked not to share any personal information regarding fellow participants—this includes sharing with your family members and partners.

All requests for information regarding our participants and former participants are referred to the main STAR Foundation office in Arizona where all written authorizations to release records are kept on file. No information, verbal or written, is released without a current authorization on file in our office.

Suggested Reading

Click on the + symbol to reveal our favorite book list on the different topics.

  1. Daniel Siegel – The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are
  2. Bruce Lipton – The Biology of Belief: unleashing the power of consciousness, matter, and miracles.
  3. Joseph Chilton Pearce – Magical Child
  4. John Lee – Growing Yourself Back Up
  5. John Bradshaw – Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child
  6. Melody Beattie – Codependent no More
  7. Louis Cozolino – The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain
  8. Tomas Verny – The Secret Life of the Unborn Child
  9. BonniePema Chodron – When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  10. Angeles Arrien – The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary
  • John Bradshaw – Healing the Shame that Binds You
  • Robert Burney – Codependence: Dance of Wounded Souls —A Cosmic Perspective of Codependence and the Human Condition
  • Patrick Carnes – Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction
  • Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction
  • Judy Hollis – Fat is a Family Affair
  • Pia Mellody – Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives
  • Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love —The Love Connection to Codependence
  • Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
  • Vein of Gold – A Journey to Your Creative Heart
  • Susan O’Doherty – Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman’s Guide to Unblocking Creativity
  • Arthur Janov – The New Primal Scream: Primal Therapy Twenty Years On
  • The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy —The Cure for Neurosis
  • Primal Healing: Access the Incredible Power of Feelings to Improve Your Health
  • John Lee – Facing the Fire: Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately
  • T.I. Rubin – The Angry Book
  • Thomas Armstrong – The Radiant Child
  • Seven Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences
  • Robin Karr-Morse & Meredith S. Wiley – Ghosts From the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence
  • R.D. Laing – The Politics of the Family, and Other Essays
  • Ken Magid – High Risk: Children Without a Conscience
  • Alice Miller – Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
  • For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence
  • Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child
  • Mary Piper – The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families
  • Virginia Satir – New Peoplemaking
  • Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell- Parenting From the Inside Out
  • Margaret Bouvard & Evelyn Gladu – The Path Through Grief: A Compassionate Guide
  • John Bowlby – Loss: Sadness and Depression
  • Alexandra Kennedy – Your Loved Ones Live On Within You
  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – On Death and Dying
  • Christine Longaker – Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Core of Dying
  • Sukie Miller – Finding Hope When a Child Dies: What Other Cultures Can Teach Us
  • Raymond Moody Jr. & Diane Arcangel – Life After Loss: Conquering Grief and Finding Hope
  • Ashley Davis Prend – Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make It Meaningful
  • Phil Rich – The Healing Journey Through Grief: Your Journal for Reflection and Recovery
  • Dr. Catherine M. Sanders – Surviving Grief and Learning to Live Again
  • Judy Tattlebaum – The Courage to Grieve
  • Jeremiah Abrams, Editor – Reclaiming the Inner Child
  • Margaret Paul – Inner Bonding: Becoming a Loving Adult to Your Inner Child
  • Cathryn Taylor – The Inner Child Workbook: What to Do With Your Past When It Just Won’t Go Away
  • Arthur Janov – Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birthing Process
  • Marshall Klaus – Your Amazing Newborn
  • Ashley Montagu – Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin
  • Peter Nathanielsz – Life In the Womb: The Origins of Health and Disease
  • Randolph Heiniger – Kids Learn from the Inside Out
  • Tomas Verny – The Secret Life of the Unborn Child
  • Myrium Szejer – Talking with Babies: Healing with Words in a Maternity Ward
  • Sharon Ellison – Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication
  • John M. Gottman – The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide From the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert
  • John M. Gottman & The Relationship Cure: A Five-Step Guide to Strengthening
  • Joan DeClaire – Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships
  • Harville Hendrix – Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples
  • Keeping the Love You Find Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself Be Loved
  • Dean Ornish – Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy
  • David Schnarch – Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships
  • Maurice Taylor & Seana McGee – The New Couple: Why the Old Rules Don’t Work and What Does
  • Charles Whitfield – Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting & Enjoying Self
  • Elaine Aron – The Highly Sensitive Person
  • Jacquelyn Aldana – The 15-Minute Miracle
  • Mary Ellen Copeland – Wellness Recovery Action Plan
  • Wayne Dyer – Power of Intension: Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way
  • Louise Hay – You Can Heal Your Life
  • Shad Helmstetter – What to Say When You Talk to Your Self
  • Anne Katherine – Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day
  • Tama Kieves – This Time I Dance! Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work You Love: How One Harvard Lawyer Left It All to Have It All!
  • John Robbins – Reclaiming Our Health
  • Thom Rutledge – Embracing Fear and Finding the Courage to Live Your Life
  • Manuel Smith – When I Say No, I Feel Guilty
  • Deepak Chopra – Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old
  • Florinda Donner – Being-in-Dreaming: An Initiation to the Sorcerers’ World
  • Foundation for Inner Peace – A Course In Miracles
  • Taro Gold – Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Book of Eastern Wisdom
  • Willis Harmon – Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights
  • Roger Housden – Ten Poems to Change Your Life
  • Dancing with Joy
  • Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation
  • Deborah Johnson – Living the Sacred Yes: Affirmations for Action
  • Wayne Muller – Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood
  • Don Miguel Ruiz – Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
  • Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
  • A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
  • Marianne Williamson – The Healing of America
  • A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
  • A Woman’s Worth
  • Gary Zukav – The Seat Of the Soul
  • David Burns – The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things From Taking Over Your Life
  • Doc Lew Chidre – Freeze Frame: One Minute Stress Management – A Scientifically Proven Technique for Clear Decision Making and Improved Health
  • Peter Williams – You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn – Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life
  • Judith Herman – Trauma and Recovery
  • Maggie Scarf – Secrets, Lies, Betrayals: The Mind/Body Connection
  • Peter A. Levine – Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma—The Inner Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
  • Daniel Amen – Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness
  • Bonnie Badenoch – Being a Brain-Wise Therapist: A Practical Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology
  • Ram Dass – Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying
  • Stanislav Grof – Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy
  • Candace Pert – Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
  • Daniel Siegel – The Mindful Brain


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