Teens at Muir Wood enjoy game night
Photo of Scott Sowle

Scott Sowle

Founder & CEO

Scott Sowle has worked with teens and families for over 30 years. His goal has always been to create treatment programs that emphasize kindness and compassion over confrontation and control. He is passionate about creating settings that promote sustainable, life-long recovery by providing teens and their families idyllic locations coupled with caring, dedicated, and highly qualified professionals who partner with families to find more effective ways to communicate and begin the process of healing. To provide this level of care to as many kids and families as possible, Scott’s motto is “making exceptional care accessible.”

As an undergraduate and graduate student at UCLA, and as a means to better understand how both substance abuse and mental health issues intersected within his own family system, Scott began his professional journey at Hathaway Children’s Services. At the time, Hathaway was an orphanage for abused and neglected children whose parents were unable or unwilling to care for them. Many came from alcoholic and abusive families. It was at Hathaway that Scott first felt a sense of belonging and connection that continued with him to this day.

From 1990-2000, Scott worked as an administrator for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment programs within large, non-profit Catholic hospitals. These included the Sisters of Carondelet, St. Joseph’s, and St. John’s, all in southern California. In 2000, Scott became Executive Director of the then start up, Visions Adolescent Treatment Program, in Los Angeles. He would help launch that program’s residential and outpatient centers. In 2008, seeing a need for adolescent treatment in Orange County, CA, Scott conceptualized and was the visionary behind Newport Academy, launching that program as Founder and Chief Operating Officer. Scott remained at Newport Academy for close to five years.

Wanting to be closer to family in northern California, and recognizing a need for high quality treatment for struggling teens and families in the Bay Area, Scott launched Muir Wood Adolescent and Famliy Services in 2013. Muir Wood is the culmination of Scott’s personal and professional experiences, and has become recognized nationally as a gold standard in adolescent behavioral healthcare. Currently, Muir Wood operates ten campuses on over 60+ acres in Sonoma county, with a total of 64 beds. In 2023, Muir Wood will extend its exceptional treatment offerings to central and southern California. Kathy Ketcham, best-selling author of “The Spirituality of Imperfection”, “Broken”, and “The Only Life I Could Save”, says of Muir Wood, “It is a place of light and hope, offering a comprehensive program of treatment, academics, and family involvement that sets the gold standard for gender-specific adolescent treatment. If only every young person struggling with substance use and other problems could spend time at Muir Wood, where kindness, trust, and respect are the keystones of life-long recovery.”

Scott has authored a number of articles and is often asked to speak on mental health, substance use disorders, family systems, and paths to sustainable healing. He is passionate about education and is honored to sit on community advisory boards and non-profits and as an advocate for the underserved in hope that his voice can be a catalyst for effective and thoughtful substance use and mental health treatment policies. Scott is also most proud to mentor many young entrepreneurs and professionals, helping them launch their own programs. He has been widely recognized for his work, most recently as the recipient of the 2020 Miracles Award in the Bay Area for “outstanding lifetime achievement and outstanding service in the treatment of addiction and mental health disorders.”   

An avid cyclist, surfer, endurance swimmer, and runner, the outdoors have always played a significant role in Scott’s life, and were essential components of the program at Muir Wood. To quote John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Indeed, Scott named Muir Wood after the environmentalist, adding “…many may not know this, but while working on an assembly line as a young man, John Muir was blinded from a tool that had pierced his eye. He vowed that if he ever regained his eyesight, he would leave the assembly line and follow his passion. To me, this is akin to so many of the young persons we see at Muir Wood. If, with our help, they can free themselves from the bondage of substance use disorders or mental health issues that envelope them, then perhaps they may discover their true north and passions that inspire them.”

Scott lives in Marin with his wife Basia, an operating room nurse and nurse educator at UCSF, and a consultant at Muir Wood. She is a constant inspiration and beacon in his life.

Find Scott Sowle on LinkedIn.