1. Where is Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services located?
Muir Wood is located in Sonoma County, California, approximately 25 miles north of San Francisco. The Muir Wood campus sits on six acres of serene countryside surrounded by rolling hills. National and State parks such as the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods are nearby making the location of Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services ideal and one of the most beautiful adolescent treatment settings for teens and families to heal.
2. Is it possible to visit Muir Wood before I admit my teen?
Absolutely. We would welcome you to tour our program, meet our treatment team, and if desired, attend one of our Saturday Family educational lectures facilitated by adolescent treatment experts. This may also give you an opportunity to meet with parents of current residents and ask their opinion of our program.
3. How many teens are in Muir Wood at any one time?
Muir Wood only treats ten adolescent boys at any one time. This allows our clinical team to truly individualize treatment for every teen and family in the program.
4. What are the sleeping arrangements?
Two boys occupy a spacious and well appointed room at any one time and each bedroom has its own bathroom. The bedding and linen are of the highest quality and there is ample closet and storage space.
5. What is the average length of stay at Muir Wood?
The minimum length of stay at Muir Wood is 45 days. However, length of stay is determined by the adolescent’s progress in treatment. Parents are updated weekly on the progress of their son and our clinical team works collaboratively with the home therapist to discharge the teen back home when appropriate. Although Muir Wood has been recognized as a center of excellence in the treatment of teen substance abuse and co-occurring issues, we have purposely kept our cost down in an effort to maintain teens in treatment as long as they need to achieve lasting sobriety.
6. Who will be providing treatment?
The treatment team at Muir Wood consists of highly qualified staff trained specifically in adolescent development, co-occurring mental health issues, substance abuse and addiction. David Smith, MD, FASAM who is the immediate past Medical Director for the State of California, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Past President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and recognized by many of his peers as a foremost authority on the treatment of addiction leads our medical team. Alongside Dr. Smith are a number of other board-certified psychiatrists, licensed therapists, certified chemical dependency counselors and allied health staff.
7. What are the other teens in treatment like?
Teens with a history of violence, teens that are actively psychotic, teens that have a history of fire starting, or that exhibit behaviors that would ultimately disrupt the treatment milieu are not appropriate for Muir Wood. At Muir Wood, each teen is carefully screened by the admissions team, Executive Director, Clinical Director, and if needed, the Medical Director for appropriateness. At Muir Wood we are committed to maintaining a treatment environment that is both safe and secure for all residents to heal.
8. How often will my son receive individual therapy?
With only 10 boys in treatment at any given time, the clinical team at Muir Wood has the ability to meet with residents daily for individual therapy. This high level of one-on-one therapy allows teens to address sensitive underlying issues with their primary therapist that may otherwise go unaddressed in the group therapy setting.
9. What is the academic program like at Muir Wood?
At Muir Wood, academics are a priority. Our Academic Director is a Masters-level, multiple-subject credentialed teacher who works one-on-one with each resident. Residents are in a structured classroom setting fours hours per day, five days per week. The academic program follows one of three models depending on what is best for the resident and on the wishes of the parents. The first and second options are recognized by the Department of Education as a ‘home and hospital’ model. With this model, residents at Muir Wood work in collaboration with either the residents home school to obtain the current classwork keeping the resident current in his work to insure seamless re-entry following discharge from Muir Wood, or work in close collaboration with the local school district here in Sonoma County with a highly qualified, multiple-subject credentialed teacher from the district to insure that the classes taken at Muir Wood qualify for credits towards graduation. A third option that parents may choose is to have their son enroll in fully accredited distance learning courses taken online. In either scenario, residents at Muir Wood typically re-enter their home school upon discharge from Muir Wood in a much better place academically then when they entered treatment.
10. Is psychological testing and assessment offered?
Yes. Dr. Patti Weiss, who is a recognized authority on psychological testing and assessment, works with Muir Wood residents providing on-site psychological testing and assessments when clinically indicated. Dr. Weiss and her team work in collaboration with the Muir Wood Clinical Director and board-certified psychiatrist to determine if neuropsychological testing is appropriate. In addition, all residents are given multiple assessments upon admission and throughout their treatment stay. Every resident will be thoroughly assessed by our Medical Director and a board-certified psychiatrist, upon admission with weekly follow up sessions; given a thorough nursing assessment by our masters-level nurse upon admission with weekly follow ups; as well as assessed by both the licensed Clinical Director and Primary Therapist upon admission with weekly updates. In addition, the treatment team meets weekly including physicians, nurses, licensed therapists, and counselors to discuss your teens’ progress and ongoing treatment plan.
11. What is the role of the family in the treatment process?
Family involvement at Muir Wood is a core component of treatment and family participation is mandatory. Addiction is a family disease and the family must be involved in the treatment process if treatment is to be optimized. This includes weekly individual family therapy sessions with parents, teens and the Clinical Director; attendance at the Saturday Family Program; and a commitment from parents to attend Al-Anon meetings in the community. For families that are out of the area and cannot attend weekly individual family therapy, Muir Wood utilizes Skype to conduct remote sessions. In addition, for out of town families who cannot attend every Saturday for the Family Program, Muir Wood videotapes the educational lectures allowing parents to watch the presentations in real time on a password protected site. At Muir Wood we do everything possible to involve the parents in the treatment program to help insure recovery for both the individual teen and family system.
12. Do you provide gender specific treatment?
Yes. Gender-specific treatment significantly increases treatment efficacy by providing a safe and secure environment for adolescents to explore sensitive underlying issues such as trauma or depression that lead to their need to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. A gender-specific treatment setting also minimizes the obvious distraction of a mixed-gender setting allowing teens to focus on interpersonal issues rather than the opposite sex. It is widely accepted that a gender-separate setting is optimal for teens in a residential treatment setting. Be suspicious of programs that claim otherwise.
13. Will my son’s treatment remain confidential?
Yes. Every teen’s treatment at Muir Wood is protected under the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This act gives the right to privacy for individuals age 12-18. Just as your teen’s medical records are protected when they visit their internal medicine physician at home, so to are the medical records protected while they’re at Muir Wood. In addition, every resident and parent at Muir Wood signs a confidentiality agreement upon admission and every visitor who comes to Muir Wood is asked to sign a confidentiality agreement as well.
14. How does adolescent treatment differ from adult treatment?
The treatment of teens requires a very different approach than that of treating adults. Adolescents require a treatment model that focuses on habilitation rather than rehabilitation, emphasizing the teaching of psychosocial skills. Adults on the other hand, require a rehabilitation model that focuses on pre-existing recovery skills. Additionally, adolescent treatment must take into consideration the development differences between adolescents and adults and the high correlation between substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues predominant in adolescents who abuse drugs and alcohol.
15. What should my son bring to Muir Wood?
Please send enough comfortable clothes to last ten days. Residents have the ability to wash their belongings every week and parents can always bring other articles of clothing when they visit weekly. Also, please make sure to pack comfortable socks, shoes and boots as we often take hikes and work with the horses at Medicine Horse Ranch. You may also wish to pack toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Muir Wood provides toiletries, but many teens like to bring their own brand. Residents are also encouraged to bring personal items such as photos as there is a corkboard above each bed where they can place keepsakes. The program provides all linens, pillows, towels, etc.
Do not bring mobile phones, laptop computers, iPods or other mp3 players, cameras, or valuables, as they are not permitted. When teens are at Muir Wood the focus is on treatment and education. As they say in the program, “it’s an inside job” and there is no reason to distract from the importance of the treatment experience.
16. Do residents attend 12-step meetings?
Yes. Both Marin and Sonoma County have vibrant young-persons 12-step meetings in the community. Residents of Muir Wood attend six, nightly young-persons meetings in the community with staff and on the seventh night a young-persons panel comes to the house and a meeting is held at Muir Wood. The goal is to introduce teens to the positive social peer groups at young-persons meetings, to recognize that recovery from substance abuse can be fun, and to recognize that there are countless “cool kids” in the community who want to remain sober and live productive lives.
17. How often will I be able to visit my teen in treatment?
Parental involvement is a core component of the treatment program at Muir Wood. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend the weekly individual family sessions on campus, attend the weekly Saturday Family Program on campus, and communicate with teens via weekly Skype sessions and/or phone calls. Also, when clinically appropriate, teens can qualify for passes with their parents and siblings.
18. What are some of the major differences between a residential treatment and wilderness program?
Wilderness programs apply wilderness therapy in the field, which can contain the following key elements that distinguish it from other approaches found to be effective in working with adolescents: 1) the promotion of self-efficacy and personal autonomy through task accomplishment, 2) a restructuring of the therapist-client relationship through group and communal living facilitated by natural consequences, and 3) the promotion of a therapeutic social group that is inherent in outdoor living arrangements. Where wilderness programs often fall short is there lack of family therapy, parental involvement, introduction to the young-persons recovery fellowship in the community, thorough psychiatric assessment, and clinical expertise. For teens with a substance abuse disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, an intensive, gender-specific residential treatment program with a strong family component like Muir Wood can offer many more therapeutic resources than traditional wilderness programs.
19. Will Muir Wood collaborate with my son’s therapist?
Yes. In fact, Muir Wood surpasses many programs in collaborating with referring professionals. Upon admission, referring professionals are sent a Referent Contact Worksheet either by mail or email. This form lists all of the professionals at Muir Wood that will be working with your son, ascertains what is the best way of communicating with the referring professional (mail, email, phone), ascertains how often contact is desired (weekly, monthly), and ascertains with whom the referent would like to communicate with (Executive Director, Clinical Director, Primary Therapist, Medical Director). In addition, referent professionals are invited to participate in the weekly treatment team meeting when the team is discussing the teen in question or the treatment team at Muir Wood offers to send the referent professional treatment team notes on the teen each week (when approved by parents).
20. Does Muir Wood accept insurance?
Yes. Muir Wood works with individual insurance providers on an out-of-network, single case agreement basis. We are also in-network with several major providers. We are happy to assist any prospective family verify their benefits and secure pre-authorization for treatment. In addition, Muir Wood provides a comprehensive courtesy bill on each teen at discharge. This courtesy bill outlines in detail the charges of the program so that parents can work with their insurance providers for retroactive reimbursement when possible.
21. If insurance won’t pay for treatment, what are my options?
If insurance will not reimburse for treatment and families need to pay out-of-pocket, Muir Wood can offer financing options and payment plans to help families access treatment.