“People arrive on their knees, and we find a way through,” says Arrigo, who is nearly always barefoot—even when she drives—and whose dark brown hair is perpetually, sensually tousled. Swathed in drapey off-the-shoulder knits, flowing scarves and long skirts, she’s as glamorous as an earth mother can get. “This is no ‘la-la-la’ program,” she says, adding that she expects hard work from her clients. “Life can be f---ing painful, but here you learn to be in the pain, in the joy and in the chaos. People come to me when they are ready for change.”
“The first time I went, I thought, What kind of mix-and-match therapy is this?” says Elizabeth, the Duchess of Buccleuch, who called Arrigo when the stress of her life and her work as an arts journalist and biographer began to weigh on her. “But it was very professional. By the time I finished I had gained a degree of balance, stability and clarity. Fiona returned me to myself.” Emma Booth, an Australian actress who periodically sees Arrigo for help with work-related emotional and physical stress, says she “peels away the layers until she gets to the rawest form of you. I have never met anyone who cares so much about helping people get better.”
Arrigo runs occasional 10-day detox courses in Sri Lanka and Bali, and beginning in September she’ll make trips every three months to New York to work with clients on a one-on-one outpatient basis, with hopes of starting an inpatient program Stateside. And recently she expanded her program to include day sessions—consisting mostly of talking or meditative therapies—back in London. But she hasn’t set foot near her former socialite haunts in years. These days the best bar in town is the one that serves organic carrot juice.