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Rehab Reviews

Reflections 4 stars

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This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Reflections' courtyard pool. Photo via

Location: Reflections 1191 Simmons Lane Novato, CA 94945

Phone: (800) 611-7316

Web: livingatreflections.com

Price: $35,000-47,000

Overall: 4 stars

Accommodations: 5 stars

Treatment: 4 stars

Food: 5 stars

Insurance: Yes

Detox: Yes

By The Fix staff

09/11/12

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Located in Marin County north of San Francisco, Reflections targets the executive crowd with posh accommodations and a flexible approach to treatment. The facilities are a veritable villa complete with a Roman-style pool and fountains. With access to ocean views as well as redwood forests, it is a gem of a location. The center itself is just a few years old but has done well by its alumni so far. It was founded in 2011 by Louise McCallion, a recent convert to the treatment world from real estate, and headed up by William J. Hanna, a 20-year veteran of Northern California’s recovery industry. 

Though clients range from 20-75 years old, they tend to be white, affluent, straight professionals in their 30s and 40s. However, since there are just six residents at a time, the group dynamic is variable depending up on who shows up at any one period.  Clients stay for 30, 60 or 90 days, and all rooms but one are private (some clients are happy to have a roommate after their first month). There are no chores to speak of, since room service and laundry are covered, and residents can keep their phones and laptops with them to use the Internet whenever they’re not otherwise occupied.

The food is in keeping with the luxury atmosphere. Chefs are “truly gifted” and will craft nutritious, restaurant-quality meals from sushi to short ribs to chicken tikka masala. Produce is locally grown or even handpicked from the garden. Meals can be customized to residents’ specifications when asked, though otherwise the menu repeats every 30 days or so. Coffee is available until 4 p.m. and healthy snacks are always on hand. Once a week, the group goes out for dinner to local eateries. 

The amenities also include a large TV entertainment center, billiards, bocce ball in the courtyard, a gym, and of course a pool with a hot tub. There’s an even larger gym down the road, and residents can access it as well as other offsite destinations like massages, movies and meditation centers on weekends. Yoga classes are held once a week, and offsite equine therapy takes place once a month. A big perk of the program, if you’re a nature lover, are regular kayaking and hiking trips with the popular staff member affectionately known as Adventure Bob. 

But it’s not a vacation, of course; there’s also recovery, which can take many forms at Reflections. Though treatment itself does not involve the 12 steps and religion is not addressed (though it is respected), residents take shuttles to meetings in the evenings and choose from either 12-step or non-12-step groups like LifeRing and SMART Recovery. Group and individual therapy incorporates both CBT and DBT, and clients get three to seven one-on-one sessions per week with a doctoral-level primary therapist. Therapy focuses on the underlying causes of addiction, such as anxiety and trauma. The rest of the schedule is rounded out with a variety of process groups as well as a two-day family program every month. 

Patients who wonder whether they suffer from a co-occurring condition like bipolar disorder can get additional psychological testing for an extra fee. Other chargeable “add-ons” include sober companions for aftercare, as well as “premium” non-traditional therapies—herbalism, personalized nutrition management and acupuncture. 

There is no doctor in residence at Reflections, and a few alums complain that it took too much time and effort to get appointments with the MD who came to visit. However, there is an on-site nurse practitioner who is “intelligent and compassionate,” and consulting physicians and psychiatrists are “very helpful and ready for any situation” once you manage to actually meet with them. Patients who come in on Suboxone are allowed to taper or continue it at a low level, but Reflections does not admit clients on methadone. When clients are currently on other addictive prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines for anxiety or amphetamines for ADHD, Reflections staff will work with the original doctors to ensure patient safety.

Overall, the attitude towards discipline falls on the compassionate side, which alums consider a good thing. In addition to liberal Internet and cell phone use, the T.V. is permitted every night between 4:00 and 10:00 p.m.  When rules get broken, the response is prompt but measured. One alum remembers playing with some Nerf guns that were confiscated for disrupting the serene environment, while another reports mandatory urine tests when pills were found on the floor. Basically, discipline was just rigorous enough to assure that the staff’s top priority is client recovery.

Reflections accepts insurance from a limited selection of providers, but if you come with a full wallet, you will probably not be disappointed. Although it is a new facility, Reflections is starting to build a good track record. Most alumni surveyed report staying sober for at least their first year away from rehab. One self-described “skeptic” who doubted any treatment center could help him came away viewing Reflections as “innovative, original, unparalleled, caring and effective.” In time, it may cement itself as a leading Bay Area facility.

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