Feel Good Factor- Cortijo Care Marbella presents: A view into a Patient's Journal

It is an honour to be introducing what will be an ongoing diary, giving you an insight into the recovery of one of the bravest women I have ever had the privilege to meet. When I first met Claire I was shocked. What was this beautiful, highly intelligent woman doing here? When will I learn to stop judging a book by its cover? Underneath it all was someone to whom we can all relate. Someone who was struggling to cope with everyday life and needed professional help. The most incredible thing is that now that Claire is on the right path; this amazing woman wants to help others by sharing her story with you.

If you had told me three months ago, when living in the UK, that today I would have been putting a deposit down on a rental apartment in Marbella, I would have thought you were crazy. Not because, “It’s the start of the season and prices will double!”; it was because three months ago I was admitted to the Cortijo Care Centre feeling like no-one could feel as low as me.

 After struggling for so long with depression, extreme anxiety and, subsequently, the eating disorder bulimia, my life had become unmanageable. Not that I acted like it was; no one else had a clue. I had become a pro at acting like everything was just great. I had the dream job, dream car, dream handbag. Yet, beneath my perfectly blow dried locks was a person who felt unbearably low and suffered horrible panic attacks. I felt like a fraud. The appeal of suicide was growing within me and the anti-depressants the GP had hastily prescribed did nothing.

A psychiatrist, recommended to me by a friend in strictest confidence, (she practically whispered the details over the phone, as if the subject of mental health was not fit for polite discussion) gave me two choices: Ignore how utterly helpless I felt, or Enter into psychiatric, residential care.


So, full of fear, I flew to Málaga to check into the Cortijo Care Centre. I expected a sparse hospital environment but, instead, found a building that looked like a beautiful home and a welcome I’d only expect from friends. The professional team there worked together to get to know the real me. Even I wasn’t even sure who I was; I just felt like a walking illness.

After my stay I’m moving to Marbella because I’d like to continue finding out about who I am, whilst being near the ongoing support offered by the centre. It’s amazing how first class therapy and psychiatric support can make you realise that recovery is possible and the world awaits. Maybe this part of the world will offer me a great new start?  

Being able to offer someone a moment of happiness, can end up offering them a lifetime of hope.

Gemma Wood, is the Head of Counselling & Psychotherapy at the Medical and Psychological clinic, Cortijo Care, based in San Pedro.

 The opportunity to be part of Claire’s journey has been an honour and a privilege for all of the team at Cortijo Care. Today is an especially proud moment to start to share her story, as she reintegrates into society. When Claire arrived at Cortijo Care three months ago, we witnessed a brokenhearted lady who had been suffering in silence for a long time. The team was able to offer her intense in-patient care, psychiatric support, medical assistance and many forms of psychotherapy groups, one-to-one sessions and eating disorder care. This was the beginning of Claire’s journey with us. As a team, the first stage of care consists of two main areas: • Building a relationship of trust with the individual. • Helping to nurture the willingness of each person to be open to what we offer and to assist them with their own process. For weeks Claire was not able to hear nor accept that the improvements she was making were due to her own ability, believing that it was down to the Cortijo Care team. Only three weeks ago, Claire accepted her own journey, efforts and, most importantly “this walking illness” as she described it, was not who she IS. Claire’s acceptance of being ill has evolved over time but she has also accepted that her illness is only PART of her. She has discovered that she has many other facets that will help her in the future. In order to record her progress Claire kept a diary during her stay at Cortijo Care.

TUNE IN ON AIR On Thursday 3rd of July to listen and speak directly to Gemma and Claire

Cortijo Care Marbella: C/ Joaquin Turina, Cortijo Blanco, San Pedro de Alcantara, Marbella. Tel. 952 780 181 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it cortijocare.com

Next month, see how Claire’s journey began...

The Bold and the Beautiful

Want strong, on-trend brows like Cara Delevingne? Learn how to get statement eyebrows with this brow-tastic guide

IMG 0171_new_3Long gone are the days of ultra skinny, overly waxed eyebrows (think Pamela Anderson in her Baywatch days). From French fashionista Carine Roitfeld to Hollywood actress Jennifer Connolly, you can’t open a magazine, or turn a street corner for that matter, without seeing big, beautiful brows staring back. Full, groomed eyebrows are flattering and youthful, can add structure to the face, make you look polished and tie the whole look together. However, not everyone can take a bold brow; for example, if you have a petite face or if your brows are close to your eyes, a strong brow will not be for you. “When your brows are close to your eyes, it can close them off and make your eyes seem even smaller,” explains HD brow guru Amy Carter from Golden Tarts. “The shape of your brows completely depends on the shape of your face. For example the trend at the moment is for sharp lines, straight edges and a higher arch, but if you have a round face, this style won’t work for you. You need a softer, rounder arch.” Ready to start your bold brow journey? First step is to visit a brow expert. If you want to venture into a statement strong brow, you may want first to see an aesthetician, who can set you on the right path and help you to determine the right shape. “It is difficult to shape your brows yourself or see the shape that they should be,” Amy points out. ”With HD Brows you can readjust the shape of the brow, creating the ideal shape for you, rather than just working with what you have.” One thing that you have to accept is that growing in fuller brows will take time. Been tweezing your brows? Sadly, you won’t be able to rock a bold brow anytime soon. If you’re starting from scratch it can take anything from three to six months to grow in your brows, but the end result is worth it. AND, if you are an eyebrow virgin, Amy has the following advice: “For my first timers I always start off with a lighter tint colour and a softer shape than I would usually create. It’s easier to go over the colour and darken it, rather than go full on straight away and have the client screaming they look like Groucho Marx” Now you have the shape, here is how to finish them off. For a more natural look use an eye shadow that is one shade darker than your hair colour. Applying eye shadow – such as Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo - to the brow area using a slanted brow brush is a great way to shape and give your face some drama without looking overly made up. If you want a stronger look for the evening, switch to a pencil such as the MAC Cosmetics Eyebrow pencil (great for filling in gaps). To make them look even more sculpted, use a concealer and outline outside the brows and blend it out. Finish with a highlighter on the brow bone such as Benefit Highbeam. And if that hasn’t sold it to you, a properly shaped eyebrow is like an instant facelift and can knock about ten years off you. Yep, I bet you raised a brow to that, didn’t you?

Top Tips

  • Remember, your brows should be sisters, not twins. Don’t struggle to try and make them exactly the same, as you’ll never achieve it; no-one’s brows are 100 per cent symmetrical.

  • Tweeze after your shower, as warm water opens the follicles and softens hairs, helping them to slip out more easily.

  • Opt for a sharp, slanted pair of tweezers. Unlike pointy versions, they grab tiny strays quickly and won’t pinch your skin along with the hairs. We love Tweezermans.

  • Always use a regular mirror and avoid magnifying mirrors. The up-close view encourages overtweezing.

  • The front of the brow should align with the upper bridge of your nose.

  • Your arch ought to peak just above the iris of your eye, and then continue out until the brow ends at a forty-five degree angle from the outside of your eye.

  • Use a cottonwool ball to apply witch hazel or a very gentle moisturizer to soothe the skin that might be irritated around your brows.

  • If you change your hair colour by more than two shades, you should alter your brow colour too, but only subtly.

Turning Back Time


How did you get into the world of aesthetic practice?

I have always been fascinated by beauty and medicine, then one day I decided to combine my two loves and began working in aesthetic medicine.

How would you describe your work in one sentence?

I give people back their youth.

What made you passionate about working with the face and skin?

It would have to be the immediate results achieved from the treatments I use and the customer satisfaction. You cannot beat that feeling when you see a client’s face light up when they see the final results.

Tell us about your latest treatments?

We only work with the most innovative treatments, which offer a faster and more natural recovery and restoration. Ozone therapy is the latest addition that we can offer to our clients to improve the quality of their skin. Ozone therapy is used in Aesthetic Medicine, due to the gas’s incredible properties that induce cellular and antioxidant activation, act as a powerful germicide and an agent capable of reactivating the production of collagen/elastin and as an inductor of lipolysis. The ozone is a unique agent in
the saving and restoration of the natural beauty and health of your skin. These skin treatments do not hide flaws, but restore the natural functions and stimulate the normal skin processes. They are based on essential elements only: water and oxygen/ozone.

What do you consider to be your areas of expertise?

Aesthetic medicine and especially rejuvenation of the face and skin.

Tell us about the clinic?

Titanium Clinic Marbella is part of the Titanium Group, which is established in Spain and Santo Domingo, with clinics in Madrid, Santo Domingo, Granada, Nerja, León, Ejido, Motril and Marbella. The Marbella Clinic is a leader in the group and is known for having the latest technology and the highest standards of treatments in the fields of dental, aesthetic medicine, age management, pain management and other areas. It is also important to note that the team of doctors, surgeons, dentists, anaesthetists and nurses all belong to The Trinon Collegium Practicum, an organization which has an international focus and works with established partner organizations to provide a high standard of care to patients and education to doctors. We have several research groups working with the USA, Singapore and Germany.

What can a new patient expect during the initial consultation?

In our clinic we give the patient a personalized aesthetic evaluation based on the extensive expertise of our medical team. You will leave knowing that you will have access to the most innovative treatments on the market.

What do you think makes a good patient/doctor relationship?

Be honest with the patient and do not offer false expectations of the results that can be achieved.

Sun damage is a major issue in Spain. How do you treat this?

The best way is to combine several methods: peeling, IPL and don’t forget what a good quality sunscreen can achieve.

Which are your most popular treatments?

The anti-wrinkle botulinum toxin type A, fillers and peels.

How do you stay abreast of the latest in cosmetology and aesthetic treatments?

Being a physician who belongs to the Spanish Society of Aesthetic Medicine means that I am constantly aware of the latest techniques and most innovative and effective treatments; also participating in national and international conferences on the antiaging industry keeps me up to date.

Have you seen an increase in men taking up aesthetic treatments?

Yes! More and more men are seeking botulinum toxin treatment, because they see results in their partners.

What do you see in the future of the aesthetic medicine?

I think the future of aesthetic medicine and anti-aging is moving towards prevention rather than trying to rejuvenate after the deterioration of the skin.

Feel Good Factor - A view into Treatment at Cortijo Care Marbella


Treatment at Cortijo Care is individualised for every single person that comes into our hospital. Being able to offer outpatient day care and four-stage inpatient treatments allows the team to tailor a person’s needs and their stage of readiness for change. Recovery can start at any stage at Cortijo Care. If a person feels scared by the idea of entering full treatment for full recovery, that’s okay. As a team we can help either the sufferer and/or the family to start the process. Thinking about ‘starting to stop’ becomes a very important part of a person’s willingness and desire for change. Our therapy structure is moulded to what people need when they are with us, from creative treatment, music therapy and process work to educational therapy, yoga and meditation. Animal assisted support by the clinic’s dog (BEAR) and many more types of psychotherapy are also available to assist. The 12 steps are offered on individual need.

Hannah Rushforth, our Head Key Worker works very closely with each residential patient and becomes part of their everyday routine and support structure. She offers a depth of genuine honesty with all patients and helps them to develop skills in communication and trust. Hannah also assists in all the group work with the therapists, to maintain a deep understanding of each person. Hannah’s skills, empathy and genuine care for her patients and her job shines through


A testimonial from a patient was discharged after nine weeks in our care.

To the entire Cortijo Care team,

From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed with such warmth and kindness from everyone. Never had I felt so much compassion from a group of people who didn’t even know me. I started my journey here scared and desperate, but everyone made me feel so at ease and comfortable that I came to see you all as my family. You helped me find my inner strength, and for the first time in my life I feel ready to take on the world with complete confidence. You have shown me how to love and accept myself and for that I cannot thank you enough. You will forever hold a special place in my heart and no one can ever take that away, and I am truly grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know every single one of you. This has been an amazing journey for me, and I can’t imagine having gone through it anywhere else but here. I will forever think of you all every step of the way during this next chapter in my life, and I know I can reach my dreams and goals because of the strength you have given me. From the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you, and I genuinely love you all for showing me so much positivity, gentleness and love throughout my stay. You guys are a truly amazing team, and I am so happy my life brought me here to you. I wouldn’t have changed a thing for the world.

Mo Zaatar
Childhood Trauma by Cortijo Care Marbella

traumaAt rauma can happen to most people during their lives, dealing with the death of a loved one or coping with a serious illness in a family for example, and the aftermath can be extremely difficult to cope with. However childhood trauma can have an even more profound impact and can influence our character, behaviour and the way we perceive ourselves throughout our lives. It can cause us to be abusive to ourselves or to others. Dealing with the fallout can be difficult, but recovery is possible.

Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions and other mental health conditions, such as eating or personality disorders, can be caused or exacerbated by what we experience in our childhood.

Take Michael for example; he bullies other children at his school, calling them names and physically hurting them; he is disruptive in class and disrespectful to his teachers. Or little Sarah who seems nervous, isolates herself and is often in tears at the most insignificant thing. Both Michael and Sarah may be reacting to trauma experienced at the hands of parents, relatives or other caregivers from birth and / or throughout their childhood years. Sometimes it’s much harder to spot. 

This type of abuse could be physical, mental or the result of exposure to aggression or addiction at home. The way we are treated as children influences the way our brain develops and creates a long lasting ‘blueprint’ that can shape the way we live our lives. This can manifest itself by unconsciously repeating the patterns of childhood trauma in the form of abusing others or ourselves, forming unhealthy addictions, or living with unmanageable emotions.

Psychiatrists and psychologists often refer to the impact of childhood trauma as ‘dysregulation’. In short this means we can find it hard to regulate our thoughts, feelings and behaviour because of what happened to us as children. In our early years our brains are delicate so if a parent or caregiver abuses us and inflicts stress, our brains develop differently to those who grow up in more stable and loving environments.

Trauma in our early years will alert the brain to scan for threats and respond to them instinctively. Continuous activation of these responses can create a permanent susceptibility to perceive the world as a hostile place in which we have to protect ourselves. For some there may be a genetic vulnerability that is aggravated by trauma; for others this is not the case. Regardless of this we are born with an instinctive predisposition to form a strong bond with our mother. If she fails us in any way it can affect the health of our connection to her, or others as we grow.

The brain however, does have the ability to recover from childhood trauma and we can stop the cycle of abuse. A transformation can occur by which we make the transition from feeling neglected to feeling secure, from feeling unloved to feeling cherished. Psychotherapy is an effective way of helping people to make the changes in their lives that can restore their ability to stop destructive patterns and enhance a state of well-being.

Therapists will encourage clients, in a healthy and manageable way, to talk about themselves, their feelings, behaviours and life experiences. This helps the therapist to establish trust with the client. Through this the client can start to experience a more accurate sense of self-awareness and an understanding of how childhood traumas have impacted their lives within a safe environment. Through this process of realisation, the client can begin to understand why they may endure or inflict abusive behaviours on themselves, others, or indeed both. It then becomes possible, with the ongoing support of the therapist, to influence their brains to think and act in a more positive way, using coping strategies, better communication skills and thought processing.

Mental illnesses, addictions, eating and anxiety disorders are problems that are surmountable when we can get the right help from highly trained therapists and doctors. The impact of this treatment can be far reaching, improving our relationships with partners, children and loved ones and, most importantly, ourselves.

If your feelings and behaviour have become unmanageable and damaging, or if you know someone who in this position, help is at hand and recovery is possible. Moving from an emotionally dark place into one of light takes courage, effort and time, but the improvement in the quality of our lives and those of the people around us is more than worth the effort.

Cortijo Care specialises in Trauma Resolution Therapies including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming). Call us now for a confidential chat or to book an appointment on 952 780 181.

C/ Joaquin Turina, Cortijo Blanco, San Pedro de Alcantara, Marbella.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  cortijocare.com

What's in a Name?

“I would rather go naked than wear high street”

We’ve all seen the press – the high street mascara that exceeds the results of even the priciest department store brand. The face cream that costs less than half its luxury rival, yet has a waiting list. So do we really need to pay out for designer beauty products? The truth is that there are good and bad products in all price categories. Here are our tips on where to splurge and where to save on makeup.


Skincare products such as foundation, concealers and primers are where you should invest your money. The more expensive products may have certain ingredients in them, such as sunscreen, vitamins and added antioxidants, all of which raise the price of makeup. Luxury brand foundation lines are formulated with finely milled ingredients, and this results in a smoother, more even application on your skin. You’ll use less product because high-end foundations generally offer more coverage than their less expensive counterparts. We recommend Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup and Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk.


Mascara has the shortest lifespan - only two to three months. Much of its quality degrades due to frequent exposure to air, which causes its formula to dry and crust. As much as we love YSL Faux Effect, when it starts to clump after three weeks it is literally money down the drain. Cheapie mascaras that work and won’t put as big a dent in your wallet are Loreal Voluminous Mascara, Maybelline Falsies Mascara and Rimmel London Volume Flash Bold Curves Mascara.


The fine art of a luxury powder lies in the degree to which it’s been pulverized. The finest will allow you to layer and layer without ever looking like a clown. High street blushers tend to be too powdery with little pigment. They are filled with a lot of talc, meaning you have to use a lot of product to get the desired effect. Invest in Dior Rosy Glow Awakening Blush.

Eye shadow

While pigmentation plays a big part in choosing whether to opt for designer or drugstore cosmetics, makeup’s spoiling cycle should do too. Eye shadows are recommended for a maximum lifespan of only three months. Drugstores have really stepped up their game when it comes to eye shadows by improving their colour payoff and pigmentation. Sleek palettes should go straight onto your must-have list, Bourjois shadows are very pigmented and Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo stay on forever and blend beautifully.


Save and spend. Go cheap for trendy colours that will only be hot this season. If you like to wear one classic shade all the time, you might want to spend more for a richer lipstick that will last longer without drying out your lips. High street hotties are L’Oréal Paris Colour Juice Sheer Juicy Lip Gloss, Revlon Super Lustrous Crème Lipstick and Avon Ultra Colour Rich Mega Impact Lipstick. Oh, and don’t overlook good old Vaseline. This multi-tasking product acts as a lip balm or gloss and can also be used to create wet look shadow or a highlighter sheen.


Investing in good quality makeup brushes and tools will not only help to give you a flawless makeup look, but you’ll actually save money in the long run. You can extend the use of your foundation by applying it with a pro foundation brush - it will create an airbrushed look, and you’ll use less product than if you used your fingers. Tom Ford Smoky Eye Brush, Giorgio Armani Blender Brush and Chanel Concealer Brush #10 are a few of our favourites.

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