Choosing the right treatment program can be daunting, especially in a time of crisis. Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services, considered by many thought leaders in the field of adolescent substance abuse and mental health treatment as a gold standard in care, was developed to be the most effective program for teens and their families. Below, are key concepts and principles outlined by the California Society of Addiction Medicine and American Medical Association that establish effective, evidence-based approaches for the treatment of adolescent substance abuse. These specific approaches illustrate why Muir Wood is the gold standard of care and how it is differentiated from other adolescent treatment programs.
Why is this important – A gender-separate treatment program allows boys the safety and vulnerability to openly engage in treatment and address sensitive underlying issues that may propel them to self medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Why is this important – All the therapists that provide individual therapy at Muir Wood are licensed, all the therapists that provide family therapy at Muir Wood are licensed, and all physicians are board-certified. According to the American Medical Association, a key element in adolescent treatment is qualified and credentialed staff trained specifically in adolescent development, co-occurring mental disorders, substance abuse and addiction.
Why is this important – Every teen at Muir Wood is assigned a licensed individual therapist that meets with them at minimum twice a week, along with licensed family therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, experiential therapists, and other highly qualified staff. With only 10 boys in treatment at any one time, all aspects of the adolescents’ life are addressed to insure best outcomes.
Why is this important – Muir Wood is recognized as having one of the most extensive family programs among all adolescent treatment providers. Parents are involved weekly in individual family therapy with a licensed therapist (whether it be on campus or via Skype). Additionally, parents are encouraged to attend the all-day Saturday Family Program. Between individual family therapy and the Saturday Family Program, parents spend an average of 6-8 hours every week in treatment with their son. Overwhelming research shows that increased family involvement in adolescent treatment produces better outcomes.
Why is this important – Among teenagers, substance abuse is very often a symptom of an underlying mental health issue, behavioral disorder, or learning disability. When teens struggle with these issues they frequently turn to drugs and alcohol to seek relief from feelings of poor self-esteem, worthlessness, frustration, fear or sadness. At Muir Wood, all boys receive comprehensive psychological testing from a nationally recognized neuropsychologist. This is included in the cost of treatment, whereas other programs charge extra fees for this vital component of treatment. Using the information from the psychological testing, clinicians can develop a specialized treatment plan to best address the adolescents’ specific needs.
Why is this important – Muir Wood has a state-of-the-art classroom with a Masters-level, multiple-subject, state credentialed teacher. This allows students to receive academic credit and continue their studies while in treatment. Parents receive weekly academic progress reports and communicate with the teachers weekly.
Why is this important – Following what can be an emotional Saturday Family Program, the all day Sunday Adventure Therapy Program allows the boys at Muir Wood to integrate the best practices of psychotherapeutic treatment for addiction and the time tested process of initiation or right of passage. This dynamic combination fosters growth of the boys into the role of purposeful adults through weekly self-reflection under the supervision of a therapist. This weekly outing provides teens opportunities to set goals, support each other, contribute in the achievement of goals defined by the group, and to deepen their own practice of inquiry and self reflection. Activities include day hikes, kayaking, indoor rock climbing, mountain bike riding, and outings to state and national parks.
Why is this important – 12-Step exposure provides teens an alternative, safe and nurturing community for social bonding and a setting to explore relationships with other young-persons who are committed to being sober. This can be significant in maintaining sobriety following discharge. Accompanied by staff, the boys at Muir Wood attend 12-Step groups in the community six nights per week and Muir Wood hosts an on-site meeting with a young persons’ panel on the seventh night.
Why is this important – For 3 months following the teens’ residential stay, Muir Wood offers parents a weekly 75-minute Parent Coaching Program with a licensed therapist via phone calls or Skype. This allows the therapist and parent to identify specific ideas, tools and skills to successfully parent the teen upon returning home. It allows for parents to further the gains made by the family while in treatment and is included as part of the cost of residential treatment. No other adolescent treatment program provides such a valuable program for parents.
Why is this important – Led by Muir Wood’s board-certified psychiatrist, Michael Wachter, MD, who is also on staff at UCSF, the treatment team meet weekly to communicate treatment findings and provide a therapeutic framework to develop the most suitable, individualized, and evolving treatment approach for teens and their families.
Why is this important – Experiential therapies at Muir Wood include 3X weekly personal training with a certified personal trainer at a community gym, weekly equine assisted psychotherapy on a 1000 acre ranch, weekly yoga, weekly-guided meditation, and weekly mixed martial arts training. These experiential therapies help keep teens engaged in treatment and illustrate healthy ways they can have fun living a life free of drugs and alcohol, while reducing anxiety and depression without drugs and alcohol.
Why is this important – Muir Wood is situated in a uniquely beautiful setting where boys feel valued and engaged while in treatment. The setting provides a backdrop for the difficult work that they and their families will do while in treatment. This allows for a setting where specific needs can be best addressed to increase treatment effectiveness and further positive outcomes.