Nestled between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean lies Paradigm Malibu, an all-hands-on-deck treatment center that offers adolescents and teens equal parts therapy and luxury. Still, clients shouldn’t let the old-growth trees and wending walking paths give the wrong impression: Paradigm Malibu submits its clients to serious, intensive treatment programs, which often boast glowing reviews from alumni.
Accommodations and Food
The facility is comprised of two buildings: one of which sits at the trailhead to Escondito Falls, and another that’s located just across the street from Point Dume and the famed Malibu Bluffs. Between them, Paradigm Malibu has room for a maximum 12 clients. There are no functional differences between the two buildings.
All bedrooms—both private and semi-private—come with balconies that offer serious Malibu views and some also come with private in-suite bathrooms. Not everyone will be able to whale watch, but extraordinary scenery is all but guaranteed.
One thing clients can look forward to is not having excessive chores. A housekeeping staff takes care of pretty much everything; all residents need to do is keep their bedroom tidy and pick up after themselves.
In terms of food, Executive Chef Claudine Lamarre brings her Provençal background to the kitchen, serving up meals with a distinctly Mediterranean flair. This is far from cafeteria glop, and vegetarian, vegan, kosher and other specialized meals can be prepared if necessary.
Treatment and Staff
Paradigm Malibu focuses squarely on teen and adolescent mental health issues, including substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, grief, trauma and others. By treating so few youths at a time, the staff is able to administer a highly personalized rehab experience with a variety of therapeutic modalities. There’s individual family therapy, multi-family therapy, parent effectiveness training, equine therapy, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, dance and movement therapy—the list goes on and on. Lest potential customers have any doubt, Paradigm Malibu has extreme variety.
Most importantly is that every single client receives individual therapy every single day. While there is some group work too, Paradigm Malibu believes strongly that clients can easily fall through the cracks in a group setting. This is why the emphasis is on daily, intensive one-on-one sessions with counselors.
Any client who is accepted into the program can look forward to days jam-packed with activities, starting at 7:30 am and lasting until 11:30 pm when it’s lights out. Mornings start with breakfast and then individual therapy. Then, from 9 am to noon, the clients go to school. Yes, Paradigm Malibu has a classroom on-site where a certified teacher and various UCLA interns help keep the teens and adolescents on track with their studies. The program works with each client’s individual schools to make sure they stay current with their curricula.
When the clock strikes 12 it’s time for lunch, and afterwards, from 12:30 to 2:30, the clients engage in a recreational activity: gym, beach, hiking or anything else physical. At 3:00 PM, clients partake in expressive arts groups, which may involve music, drama, or art therapy, and from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM, the youths work on assignments and chow down on dinner. Nighttime brings additional process groups.
Also of note is that Paradigm Malibu provides gender specific treatment, but in a co-gender environment. This means that while the therapy may focus on the unique needs of adolescent and teen females or males, the sexes will not be separated during the course of the program.
During their stay, clients will also undergo psychiatric, psychological, medical, educational, and nutritional assessments. This helps the staff track progress and chart a path of treatment. Paradigm Malibu likes to address multiple facets of their clients lives, including emotional, physical, social and family health. Additionally, the staff will also work with any therapist that a client may have been seeing prior to admission. It’s a rigorous program, but Paradigm Malibu claims that after 30 days, most clients are ready to return to their normal lives.
The large staff features a core group of psychiatrists, MDs, therapists, counselors, nutritionists and other specialists that have worked together for over fifteen years. The team is affiliated with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Psychological Association (APA), California Department of Social Services (CDSS), and many, many more.
Conveniently, Paradigm Malibu is very transparent about staff and their qualifications on its website—picture, bio, the whole nine yards—which allows clients and their families to see who they’ll be dealing with (Incredible Hulk fans will be happy to know that Lou Ferrigno Jr. serves as a fitness therapist). Additionally, the staff must all undergo an extensive background check before coming on board at Paradigm Malibu, all to ensure that family confidentiality remains paramount.
In regards to rules, clients are prohibited from bringing cell phones, cameras, music players, personal computers, non-prescription drugs or any items promoting violence or offensive messages.
The program can be mentally and physically exhausting; most clients probably won’t mind not having access to TV, movies or social media.
Parents may call their kids anytime they want, and vice versa (as long as it’s deemed clinically appropriate). Additionally, every Saturday is family visitation day, but should there be a scheduling conflict, Paradigm Malibu will work with parents to find an alternative.
The facility also features a private athletic field, recreation and picnic areas, a pool with a water slide, a basketball court and a computer lab for academic use. Internet access is limited to academic endeavors during school hours, and even then, only when supervised. At night, the staff may show a documentary, and Friday nights might also yield a movie, but entertainment largely revolves around board games, cards games and shooting the breeze.
The facility doesn’t want new clients to pick up destructive behaviors from others in the program, and thus the facility does not even accept referrals from the Juvenile Justice System or anyone with gang affiliations or histories of violence. “Firestarters” and sexual perpetrators will also have to look elsewhere.
The good news for clients and their families is that aftercare and family support are provided for free indefinitely. Health insurance is accepted and for those paying out of pocket, the facility works with American Healthcare Lending Inc. to finance treatment. Paradigm Malibu will also accept payment via credit card (or multiple cards).
With resort-like accommodations and intimate, intensive treatment, it’s no wonder Paradigm Malibu has accrued so much praise. Psychology Today named the facility “Best in Treatment,” and Parent Treatment Advocates writes that Paradigm “[offers]the strongest family component in the nation.” Program graduates also mostly agree. Overall, Paradigm Malibu seems to be a top-of-the-line program for adolescent and teen rehabilitation.
6323 Via Escondido Dr
Malibu, CA 90265
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