This California program offers non-12-step treatment in a “caring, compassionate and focused” environment where clients feel valued and respected.
California Behavioral Health (CBH), located just outside of Palm Springs, offers residential treatment for clients who want to address their substance use disorder. Their website describes a “comprehensive range of treatment services” within a “flexible therapy framework” in a comfortable setting. The goal is to empower individuals to overcome addiction and live a joyful and fulfilling life. Their program includes support for dual diagnosis and non-12-step treatment.
Surveyed alumni gave various reasons for choosing CBH, including location, privacy, and accommodations. Clients live in units that they share with two or three housemates. Each has a private room with a television and there is a shared bathroom. There are no assigned chores although everyone is expected to keep their room and common areas tidy. Quality of treatment ranked highest as a deciding factor. “I liked that there were only master’s level or higher clinicians.”
Alumni described their fellow residents as “diverse” and “quite a cross-section of male and female” who ranged in age from “mid-20’s to late 50’s” (although they tended to skew over 30). One younger alum remarked: “I liked how the older residents were able to take me under their wing and share some personal experiences with me,” while an older resident observed that the younger ones “tend to be louder.” Clients came from “different parts of the country…and appeared to be employed with decent jobs.” Clients varied in the particular substances they were struggling with and the length of time they were in treatment. Most stays were 30-45 days. One who was there for “Alcohol and opiate addiction” stayed for just over 60 days, while another client who struggled with alcohol “to the point that I felt like I would probably end up killing myself with it” was at CBH for around 90 days.
When it comes to food, CBH provides “Satisfying meals prepared by caring chefs.” There is a wide variety of choices which residents described as “wonderful,” “Healthy and delicious,” and “varied and wholesome.” Salmon, burgers, and barbecue were mentioned as favorites. For those with dietary restrictions or food allergies, the chefs will prepare alternate meals, as one alum mentioned “a gluten allergy that they were able to accommodate.” Between meals, “Healthy snacks are available, sweets when we bought them.” Coffee is available until noon.
Daily life at CBH was described as “Structured but as fun as life in treatment can be.” Clients are treated with a combination of “evidence-based” therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) tailored to their individual needs. In non-treatment hours, residents may hike, swim, work out at the gym, or attend yoga classes.
Many clients chose CBH because it is not a 12-step program: “It felt as if the program was really tailor made for my needs. 12 step is offered but not mandatory which I really liked.” Treatment is client-driven: “I was really encouraged to take the lead in my recovery.” Underlying issues are addressed, as one alum explained: “It’s about ‘core’ issues not just stopping. Everyone cares and everyone is treated with respect and dignity.” Clients also appreciated the secular nature of treatment, although every client’s faith is respected.
According to the residents who took our survey, rules at CBH were rarely broken because everyone was “focused on getting better.” Clients are encouraged to communicate with each other in a positive way in the event someone is not pulling their weight (not cleaning up after themselves in common areas, for example), “to set boundaries and stand up for ourselves.” When infractions occurred, “Staff was always fair and worked with individuals who were experiencing a setback.” “There are consequences for actions and this was fully explained.” The emphasis is on “Safety, caring and respectful treatment, everyone is empowered and is treated as an adult.”
Clients are allowed to watch TV, make phone calls from house phones, and use one of the facility’s desktop computers “As needed, but within reason.” “There weren’t a ton of restrictions for us…but the focus on treatment was always first.”
Clients’ cell phones are kept in a safe. They are allowed to access their phones outside of group/class times if there is a good reason. Additionally, each resident is given an MP3 player with music which they can listen to whenever they are not in group.
Alumni had high praise for medical and non-medical staff who were described as “Very kind” and “amazing!” “Caring staff from the maintenance staff to the Nurses to the Therapist to the Owners.” CBH provides 24/7 care with licensed registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, who are described as “very helpful, I really felt like a family member when there, as cheesy as it sounds” and accessible: “I love the nurses, they are always there to talk to and really care.” One alum appreciated that their meds were “finally figured out and I was able to get myself balanced.”
When asked about the most memorable aspect of treatment at CBH, some alumni mentioned the level of compassion of the staff: “The team treated me like a human being – I felt seen and heard. You can feel how much they care.” Others appreciated the focus on the underlying issues of their substance use disorder: “They go into the why of my drinking and I got to really learn about my emotions, how to express them and ways to cope.” One was especially grateful for the group: “It truly was the other residents that helped me to embrace a willingness to open up and accept treatment.”
The clients who were surveyed report that they are maintaining their sobriety, with some finding it more difficult than others. “It’s not easy being away from such a caring facility, trying to find the right outpatient center has been challenging; however; being able to reach out to CBH during this period continues to help me stay sober,” said one. Another reports: “I am 160 days sober and feel like I have a new chance at life.”
In general, alumni credit CBH for providing them with the tools to get and stay sober: “It had been a long time since I felt like someone cared. I know this is a life long journey and I now know that I have the skills that it takes.”