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Sun Valley Steadfast Offers Help for Sex Abuse Survivors
Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Applications are now open for the second Sun Valley Steadfast, a therapeutic intensive retreat for women survivors of sexual abuse.

The retreat will take place Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 in Bellevue and features experiential interventions with horses, art, psycho education, individual sessions and movement. Sun Valley Steadfast is based on cutting-edge neuroscience, using the most effective trauma therapies from The Trauma Resource Institute, Somatic International, and EMDR Trauma institute.

Sun Valley Steadfast was founded in May 2022 by Melissa Boley. Boley brings an incredibly diverse background having worked in many mental health settings, including wilderness therapy programs with incarcerated youth, domestic violence shelters, crisis residential centers and community mental health clinics across the United States. She began her private practice in Ketchum in 1990.

Boley specializes in trauma and holds advanced post graduate certifications from Somatic Experiencing International, the EMDR Trauma Institute, and The Trauma Resource Institute. She is a senior faculty, facilitator, and consultant for The Trauma Resource Institute in Claremont, Calif., has taught internationally and nationally, and worked extensively with disaster relief around the world training workers and agencies the skills needed to support in various mental health crises.

She is passionate about the effects of trauma on the nervous system and teaching wellness skills to return to balance and resiliency in body, mind, and spirit.

“The mission of Sun Valley Steadfast is to offer healing that is affordable with the best trauma trained clinicians in the Wood River Valley,” said Boley. “Our goal is to lessen the sensations of distress from the past and increase sensations of balance, vitality, and resiliency in the present.”

Two key models are essential in this work. In 2014, Elaine Miller Karas, Co-Founder and Director of Innovation of the Trauma Resource Institute, founded the Community Resiliency Model and Trauma Resiliency Model. Boley has been implementing them within the state of Idaho since.

CRM teaches a set of six wellness skills to discern the differences between sensations of balance/wellness and sensations of distress. The skills help the nervous system to settle and not be hijacked by reminders of past trauma or acute stress. TRM is for mental health professionals to learn nine skills to work with the biological base of trauma. The first six are the CRM skills and the last three focus on trauma reprocessing.

One in three women have experienced sexual assault across a broad continuum of abuse before the age of 18. Many survivors of sexual abuse state they do not understand why they still have reactions to reminders of the trauma especially since it occurred a long time ago. Mentally they know the incident is over and their lives are good now.

“In the 1990’s, brain imaging was able to show what happens in the brain with high stress or trauma in human beings,” said Boley. “The imaging changed our knowledge of treatment with trauma, merging the fields of neuroscience and psychology. Treatment modalities now focus on mind, body, and spirit. Neuroscience is proving that trauma states are anchored in our biology for survival--it is not mental weakness, it is biology.”

“This undertaking takes a village and Sun Valley Steadfast is truly a community-driven program,” said Boley.

Sun Valley Steadfast is made possible by many agencies, private donors, and foundations. The  Advocates is the fiscal sponsor, and St. Luke’s Community Center for Health offers counseling scholarships for all women who attend Sun Valley Steadfast.

The retreat team is comprised of five licensed counselors/social workers in Idaho who have advanced training in trauma modalities, including Robbie Sawyer LMFT, Terri James LCPC, Laurie Strand LCSW, Shelly Vegwert LCPC, and Melissa Boley LCPC. Body movement work will be facilitated by certified QiGong instructor Dr. Jillann Morlan DACM, LAc from Sun Valley Mobile Acupuncture.

In addition, Mimi Crocker, owner and program director at The Barn, along with Lindsay Jameson, are both equine specialists who are certified by PATH Intl. in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL). Chef Melissa Mauselle, who teaches classes at Sun Valley Culinary Institute, will provide all catering; and Traci Ireland, a local Shamanic healer and Reiki teacher since 2005, will open and close the retreat.

The retreat is limited to eight women 18 years and older. Participants must be in therapy and be survivors of sexual abuse. The retreat takes place in Bellevue from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 27 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 28 to Oct. 1. Lodging is not provided. Program cost is $2,000 per participant and partial or full scholarships are available for the four-day retreat. A $250 non-refundable contribution is due upon acceptance for each participant.

Contact Melissa Boley LCPC/Director of Sun Valley Steadfast, for application and screening interview by Sept. 15. Applicants may call 208-726-7584 or email


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