Oceanside Malibu is an intimate, beach-adjacent treatment facility situated along with Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. While Malibu has become synonymous with luxury rehabs that cater to the rich and famous, Oceanside Malibu is a unique entity. We sat down with its co-owner and Clinical Director, Kathryn Johnson, to learn what sets Oceanside apart.
Malibu is well known for being a rehab mecca. What sets Oceanside Malibu apart from other facilities in the area?
Oceanside is very different from the other rehabs in the area in that instead of being a cold, sterile, treatment-like environment, we really work hard to make it feel like a home and a family setting. We work to address underlying issues that led to our client’s addiction to begin with rather than just putting a bandaid on a long standing open wound. We have Master’s-level therapists that run therapy groups and do individual sessions with our clients along with chemical dependency counselors. Our clients are seen by a psychiatrist to address any underlying mental health issues that have been contributing to their addiction.
Oceanside was created with the goal of being a facility that wasn’t just a pretty house in Malibu but a home that would help clients through every stage of repairing the wreckage of their lives from when they were using and help them get through daily tasks without getting overwhelmed and going back to using. A key component to our facility was teaching clients how to have fun sober and taking them out to engage in activities that they didn’t think they would be able to do sober.
We were the first co-ed sober living home in Malibu, the first dog friendly home so clients didn’t have to choose between working on their sobriety and leaving their beloved pet, the first to use the word “transitional” instead of sober or halfway house, as those had a bad connotation for many people, and one of the first detox/rehabs located directly on the beach in Malibu.
Oceanside also became known for taking “difficult clients” that other facilities had given up on and having great success in finding out of the box solutions to help clients that didn’t respond to traditional rigid rules and structure. Helping clients develop honesty with the staff was more important than them appearing perfect. Oceanside’s unique approach taught clients that being truthful and acting with integrity was rewarded and that they didn’t have to continue with the lying and manipulation games they used while in their addiction.
Oceanside Malibu only accommodates up to six clients at one time. What is the biggest benefit, do you think, for clients in such an intimate setting?
The intimate setting allows clients a great deal of one on one time with staff as there are a lot of things clients prefer to talk about individually rather than in a group setting. Clients are really able to get an individualized treatment plan which is impossible in a setting where you have 40 to 100 clients. It feels much more like you are staying with friends who are helping you through a rough time in your life rather than the feeling of being admitted to a hospital or some sort of behavior modification program where you are being punished.
Oceanside is literally right on the beach. How does the location of the facility tie into your clients experience?
Our location is a huge part of what creates such a healing environment for our clients. When they are anxious and overwhelmed they can practice mindfulness by taking a walk on the beach and feeling the sand under their toes and looking at star fish on the rocks or fishing right off of our lower deck. The magic of watching dolphins swim by and being able to take a kayak or surfboard out to be right beside them never gets old. Watching the sunset over the water every night allows our clients to reconnect to the beauty in the world around them that had been lost for some time.
Our location also reinforces for our clients that they aren’t bad people that need to be punished but people that are in emotional and physical pain that need a safe and beautiful place to begin to heal to put the pieces of their life back together again.
You offer a variety of holistic treatment approaches at Oceanside. Can you get into detail about a couple of the most unique ones and their benefits?
We offer equine therapy, salt water therapy, breathwork, and meditation. Many clients have been to previous treatment centers and have not responded well to traditional talk therapy. We work to provide our clients with a unique experience that might enable them to gain insight into something that they were previously unable to with traditional therapies.
In equine therapy clients get the opportunity to work directly with the horses while the group is led by a licensed psychotherapist. The salt water therapy involved practicing mindfulness, meditation, and learning how to surf. Clients get to experience the beauty and healing being in the ocean brings to them while building their self confidence by learning new skills.
What is your favorite thing about what you do for a living?
The opportunity to be able to impact someone’s life and allow them to see the potential in themselves is truly a blessing and the reason why the staff at Oceanside work there. We know that if we can be the holder of hope for someone and allow them to believe in themselves and make small changes that will lead to a amazing sober life that the change in them also impacts dozens of other family member and friends around them. One of the most inspiring things is when we have one member of a family come in for treatment and other family members see the change in them and how well they are doing that it gives them hope and they seek out treatment for the first time in their lives. The trust and faith our clients put in us is truly humbling. All of our staff are grateful that everyday they don’t just go to a job but they get to work somewhere where they are changing people’s lives.
Reach Oceanside Malibu by phone at (866) 738-6550. Find Oceanside Malibu on Facebook