The Clearing

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The Clearing

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By The Fix staff 08/07/14

The Clearing isn't just another non-12-step or alternative rehab, it's something different entirely. Their unique program takes place on a 43-acre estate.

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The rehab is a 43-acre estate.
Location : Friday Harbor, WA
Phone : (425) 318-8843
Price : $45,000 for 28 days
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

Though it’s become trendy for rehabs to market themselves as non-12 step or alternative, The Clearing is a horse of a different color. A 43-acre estate located on San Juan Island in Washington (about 50 miles due south of Vancouver), this treatment center differentiates itself with its own program which pairs evidence-based psychotherapy with spiritual psychology.

The treatment they offer is just as unique as the way it’s organized: The Clearing only treats up to 10 residents at a time and each group enters and graduates treatment together. This, The Clearing believes, is the best way to avoid disruption in the healing process. Though the majority of their clients are addicts with co-occurring mental disorders, The Clearing can treat those with eating disorders as well.

Their 28-day co-ed program attracts people from different walks of life, though the majority are middle-income adults, many of whom are able to recoup the program's cost with insurance. While the ages of the male clients tend to range from 45 to 65, the female residents are usually between their early 20s and 40s. 

A good number of the clients are drawn here because they’ve struggled with the 12-step treatment they felt was forced on them at previously attended rehabs. "I'd gone to over eight inpatient rehabs," one alum says. "I was almost ready to give up." By the end of his time at The Clearing, he was transformed. “Everyone,” he says, “grew and blossomed together with unconditional love and support."

Meals here are healthy with vegetarian options available, and alumni rate the center's buffet-style meal service as excellent. "It was healthy, varied, filling and balanced," one says. Drink options include juice, tea and soda and caffeine addicts will rejoice that virtually endless carafes of coffee are available around the clock as well. Breakfast includes ranch-style options like eggs, bacon and muffins, while lunch and dinner offer a wide variety of home-style options such as chicken, beef, lamb and seafood (the crab cakes receive high marks). But, perhaps unsurprisingly for a group of addicts denied their comforts of choice, residents rave the most about the desserts, which include homemade chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.

Accommodations at The Clearing are rustic if not necessarily luxurious, though they do have an intimate charm. Six of the seven rooms are private with adjoining private bathrooms. While personal electronics are allowed, the staff takes them away in the morning and returns them at night for use during allotted free time. 

Every week, residents get three hours each of group and individual therapy and 24 hours of workshops—all totaled, they graduate with more than 120 hours of counseling. The way this breaks down on a daily basis is with wake up at 7:30am followed by Tai Chi and light exercise before breakfast. After that comes a four-hour block of "intense" workshops and therapy, including evidence-based methods like gestalt therapy, NLP, rational-emotive and person-centered therapy (the latter is a form of talk therapy stressing a close therapist/client relationship). Then there’s lunch, followed by free time where residents can relax or go to study hall, where they complete reflective essays or journaling assignments based on the concepts covered in workshops.

While alum report that The Clearing is serious about discipline, such intimate recovery groups tend to cut down on clients acting out. “When you're with a group who wants to be there and get better, you don't find a lot of rule breaking involved,” says a grad. Alumni report that whenever rule infractions occurred, they were handled discreetly and with respect.

In addition to all the therapy, residents are also encouraged to explore San Juan Island's trails, which are replete with wildlife. The Clearing may not offer Malibu Model elegance (as one resident says, “There's no pool”) but many of their clients believe the amenities aren’t the point. (As the grad who mentioned the lack of a pool points out, “This is a place to get better and feel better.")

Rest assured, not all luxuries are spared: alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation are all on the agenda. But the bread and butter of The Clearing is the aforementioned spiritual psychology program, which stresses new-age wisdom and inner-child work. Their approach focuses on healing underlying core issues to get to the root of addiction, building self-esteem, developing gratitude and helping clients tap into peace and forgiveness.

Despite the spiritual emphasis, alumni report that religion as such is not part of the program. While there’s no onsite MD or detox, a local ER is available for emergencies, and counselors and nurses are at the facility round-the-clock. There’s also a psychologist there at all times, as well as off-site detox available through partnered facilities.

Residents report having had deep shifts in perspective once they returned home. "It was clear from the beginning that everyone would be treated with honor and respect,” one says, adding that that the daily four-hour sessions taught him "the most personally helpful skills" he had ever learned. Another clearly remembers a powerful day in treatment when he “looked in the mirror one day and truly loved the person I was."

Overall, many grads use the skills and knowledge gleaned at The Clearing in daily life, though some have reported that they had trouble staying sober after leaving. Still, The Clearing offers participants whose issues later reappear to re-enroll free of charge (space permitting).

Despite the post-treatment hiccups, alumni tend to have positive reports. "The three therapeutic coaches and co-owners are absolutely amazing people," one says while another puts it more bluntly: "The Clearing saved my life."

The Clearing

2687 West Valley Rd

Friday Harbor, WA 98250

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