Located in suburban Chicago, Timberline Knolls opened in 2005 as a treatment center for adolescent girls with eating disorders, drug addiction and trauma. The following year, it expanded its campus and programming to cater to adult women as well. Singers Demi Lovato and Kesha are just two of the loyal alumni who praise the caring staff for getting their lives back on track. Timberline Knolls recognizes that addiction, eating disorders, self-harm and other mood disorders rarely occur in isolation. The clinical staff tackle these problems with an integrated, holistic treatment approach on a client-by-client basis. Because of this, there aren’t separate tracks for each type of treatment; someone getting help for cocaine and self-harm might share a room with a bulimic who’s never done drugs, for example.
Accommodations and Food
Adult women and teens reside in separate lodges on the wooded 43-acre campus, each of which resembles a small private college surrounded by ponds and pines; also like in college, women share relatively modest bedrooms with two to three roommates. Phone calls are permitted several times per day, but no cell phones or laptops are allowed.
Meals are served cafeteria style and carefully monitored by the six on-staff dieticians, as staff can’t be too careful when so many clients have eating issues.
Treatment and Staff
Most residents stay for more than 30 days and some for six months or longer. Treatment packs a one-two punch of clinical therapies and 12-step recovery. DBT plays a major role in individual and group counseling, and a range of expressive and experiential therapies include art, dance, and self-defense therapy. While the gym is small (maybe to discourage over-exercising), the art studio is top notch. During summer, equine therapy is available at Timberline’s adjacent ranch. The rest of the daily schedule gets packed with 12-step meetings, family therapy, psycho-educational groups, and regular consultations with psychiatrists and nutritionists. In addition to required core groups, there are specialized electives on topics like body image, sexuality and Big Book study. An empowerment group provides experiential recovery for trauma survivors.
Although women of all (and no) faiths are welcome at Timberline Knolls, spirituality is decidedly not optional. The spiritual director is a Christian minister, and a special Christian treatment track can be requested if desired. Despite the heavy 12-step emphasis, however, the clinical approach targets the underlying causes of each resident’s behavioral and emotional issues.
The medical care at Timberline Knolls is solid, starting with supervised detox for addicts. 24-hour nursing care is available throughout the program, so those withdrawing are in good hands. For those with substance abuse problems, personal treatment teams consist of a primary therapist, a family therapist, a psychiatrist, an internal medicine doctor, an addiction specialist, and a registered dietician. Alums praise the staff for their compassionate competence.
Outside of therapy time, the athletically inclined can play volleyball, basketball, soccer or badminton while the less-sporty can work in the garden or spend extra art time in the studio. Girls who are in school can work with a Learning Behavior specialist and Master’s-level instructors to create a customizable, transferable curriculum—even AP classes and SAT prep for those who want them.
Despite all it offers, Timberline Knolls isn’t perfect; they’ve received a number of alumni complaints—about money, about discrimination and about the treatment. On the whole, though, Timberline Knolls benefits from a healthy combination of traditional spiritual recovery and clinically modern psychotherapy. Most importantly, it emphasizes individuals’ unique situations and the root causes underlying their behavioral issues. And it pays off—unlike many rehabs, Timberline Knolls actually publishes its outcome stats. A year after treatment, it reports that 80% of clients had stayed sober and 80-90% were functioning more effectively in relationships, family and school.
40 Timberline Dr
Lemont, IL 60439
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