Gay Men's Institute in Cathedral City, CA

Overall Rating

(4.4 of 5)
Treatment Effectiveness
Accommodations & Amenities
Meals & Nutrition
67580 Jones Road
Cathedral City CA 92234

Gay Men's Institute Philosophy

At Gay Men’s Institute, we understand the unique challenges of growing up gay in a predominantly heterosexual culture, in particular, the challenges of accepting one’s own sexual orientation, coming out to parent, friends, and others, and dealing with internalized feelings of shame and separateness. These challenges are considered when developing your treatment plan.

Individual therapy, group therapy, and psychoeducation groups will be structured around affirming your sexual orientation, developing DBT skills, exploring personal and social triggers, and helping you find joy in recovery. Process groups will openly discuss topics of concern to gay men, such as social media, online (Apps) dating, HIV/AIDS, PrEP, monogamous and open relationships, healthy sexual behavior, and phase-life-transitions for gay men and our community.

Our Family program allows you to invite your family of choice to assist your journey to recovery. Gay Men’s Institute staff is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for you to promote acceptance and healthy recovery.

Areas of Specialization

  • Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
    Gay Men's Institute works exclusively with gay men seeking treatment.

  • Trauma Release
    Gay Men's Institute staff is experienced in working with patients with a history of many types of trauma. Specializations include sexual trauma, military trauma and early life childhood experiences that must be addressed in therapy in order to attempt to overcome it and truly recover from addiction.

Facility Highlights

Detox

Detox is often the first level of a treatment plan. This period of no drug use is important for the patient to reach a stable state of mind and body to begin addiction treatment. Our clinical staff will guide and support the patient throughout the entire process.

Residential Treatment

During residential treatment patients live onsite in housing with access to care from clinical staff 24/7. Patients have a full schedule of individual and group therapies according to their unique treatment plan, preparing them for life in recovery.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

To transition from residential treatment to life in recovery, patients go through a progression of care until reaching IOP. Patients will receive ongoing care at the IOP while living in sober housing to adjust to every day life after treatment.

Meet the Staff

Alan Downs, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Photo of Alan Downs, Ph.D.

Alan Downs is a clinical psychologist, sought-after speaker, and author of several books, including the groundbreaking, The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay In a Straight Man’s World, which is one of the leading self-help books for gay men. Dr. Downs earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Nebraska in 1989. He has spent numerous years working as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA as well as former CEO of Michael’s House Treatment Center in Palm Springs, CA where he also conducted weekend workshops for families of those struggling with addictions.

Dr. Downs has been a guest on many media programs including, THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW, TODAY SHOW, and NPR’s MORNING EDITION. He has also been a contributing writer to Mother Jones magazine and his work has been quoted numerous times in a variety of media, including The New York Times,[5] The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Attitude, San Francisco Chronicle and many others. He has made appearances on such programs as CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, and NPR’s Morning Edition.

Gaetano Vaccaro, Ph.D.

Clinical Director

Photo of Gaetano Vaccaro, Ph.D.

Gaetano Vaccaro is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and an expert in Program Management, Organizational Change, and Optimal Performance. Dr. Vaccaro has over twenty-five years of experience as a psychotherapist, clinical program director, workshop facilitator, life coach, and management consultant for program design and implementation.

Dr. Vaccaro is a multi-disciplinary psychologist who received his doctorate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian Depth Psychology, and his Master’s degree in Positive Psychology & Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Dr. Vaccaro’s experience includes holistic multidisciplinary treatment of psychological disturbances and addictions as well as HIV/AIDS treatment and education, sexual compulsivity, addictive behaviors, and mood disorders.

Rehabs.com 360 Guide

Review by Rehabs.com Contributors

ABOUT SUNSPIRE HEALTH DESERT PALMS

Located 15 minutes outside of Palm Springs, Sunspire Health Desert Palms is a residential alcohol and drug abuse treatment center serving men and women. The Southern California facility emphasizes what it refers to as "tough" rehab work in a serene setting, with special care for LGBTQ individuals, young adults, and clients who struggle with chronic relapse. Detox services and integrated treatment for co-occurring substance use and other mental health disorders is provided. Sunspire Health also operates men's and women's treatment centers in Palm Beach Gardens (Recovery Road) and Tampa (Hyde Park), Florida. Sunspire Health Texas offers a professionals track, and additional centers include ones in South Carolina, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

TREATMENT & ASSESSMENT

A typical stay at Sunspire Health Desert Palms is 30 days and follows a structured schedule of psychotherapy and holistic practices. Most days begin with movement, such as a serenity walk or yoga, and go on to incorporate multiple group process sessions, individual counseling, 12-step work, and expressive or recreational therapies. Personalized treatment plans are adjusted to address any co-occurring concerns that come up in the rehab process. Some clients remain for up to 90 days.

Several therapeutic modalities are used, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness meditation, and trauma-oriented practices. Group sessions address such topics as grief and loss, sexual orientation, gender identification, social media addiction, the biological nature of addiction, and coping and life skills. Art, music, and equine therapy are also all available, along with nutritional counseling.

After completion of residential treatment, clients can continue treatment in the facility's intensive outpatient program (IOP), which also offers transitional housing support. Aftercare provisions take the form of an active alumni network with regular meetings.

STAFF CREDENTIALS

The treatment team at Sunspire Health Desert Palms includes a clinical psychologist, several master's level therapists, and nurses.

ACCOMMODATIONS & AMENITIES

Desert Palms accommodates up to 36 clients in a former hotel with a swimming pool and jacuzzi. Residents share sunny bedrooms with another resident of the gender they identify with. Chef-prepared meals can accommodate any dietary restrictions.

The facility is surrounded by palm trees and mountain views, and group meetings are often held outside. Residents have access to a local gym and hiking trails.

WHAT ALUMNI SAY

To date, Rehabs.com has received feedback for Sunrise Health Desert Palms from 26 former clients. Of these, 22 shared highly favorable reviews, three were critical, and one expressed frustration with financial arrangements and communication, but did not comment on the effectiveness of treatment.

The facility's staff received the most praise, mentioned in about two-thirds of alumni reviews and frequently represented as empathetic and knowledgeable. Two reviewers noted the value of some staff members being in recovery, while one expressed concerns about some staff over-sharing in groups. The staff's level of training and experienced received 4.5 out of five stars on average from 16 alumni polled.

Several reviewers also mentioned the value of the Desert Palms alumni program, the preparations for discharge and aftercare arranged, or their continued contact with facility staff.

Accommodations were commonly cited as an area of strength. Around one-fifth of reviewers favorably mentioned the center's location, view, or activities. Meals and nutrition received a 4.1-star rating on average, the facility's cleanliness and upkeep was rated 4.7 based on 16 responses, and exercise and leisure activities received 4.1 stars. One alum commented that although the facility was very comfortable, the focus was on recovery.

Metrics measuring holistic therapy offerings and counseling options revealed more moderate satisfaction, perhaps reflecting a more tightly focused approach than anticipated. Reviewers agreed strongly that programming was 12-step-focused and adequately equipped to address co-occurring disorders (with a 4.7-star rating).

Criticisms generally were not repeated, and included overly relaxed rules, finances, and not enough to do.

Fourteen alumni contributed to a 4.4-star rating for family participation.

WHAT FRIENDS & FAMILY SAY

All seven loved ones who submitted feedback for Sunspire Health Desert Palms to Rehabs.com shared positive opinions.

In fact, all metrics measured received four or more out of five stars or above on average. The lowest ratings were for family participation and holistic therapy. Loved ones repeatedly praised the center's staff, using such terms as "accommodating" and "focused," although one reviewer noted that programming was not as individualized as expected.

About half of loved ones' reviews concluded in one way or another that the most important thing about Desert Palms was "it worked."
FINANCING

Sunspire Health Desert Palms does not publish its costs, but more than 80% of 11 individuals polled on the affordabtility of treatment granted four or five out of five stars. The facility accepts many private insurance plans and, according to information provided to Rehabs.com by Sunspire Health, financial assistance is available.

Published on January 2018

User Reviews

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Desert Palms isn’t bad. It’s safe, comfortable and food is good. I chose this facility because they advertised as Dual Diagnosis and specializes in DBT. That was not experience. I was serious about getting clean so these two things were what I really looked for in a treatment facility. The DBT that I was especially interested in was minimal at best. To be fair, I am sober years now, and I would not be here except for going to rehab. I’m writing this review because I met many men and women who went to a different treatment facility in Palm Springs and they had really good things to say regarding their dual diagnosis and DBT programs. My biggest suggestion is to do sober living after treatment. If you can do sober living away from your home town that’s even better. Good luck to you all. Recovery IS possible. Like I said, I’m three years clean from an 8 year meth addiction.

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This place saved my life and by the grace of God I have 2 1/2 years sober. I currently work at a non-profit detox facility for the indigent and the accommodations of Desert Palms were quite nice in my opinion. The purpose is not to cater to the addict behavior that I read loud and clear throughout these comments but to give you tools to use so that running to drugs or alcohol is not an acceptable option anymore. If you worry about yourself and not other people you will be able to absorb the service they are trying to provide...I would recommend this place to anyone.

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Patients were having sex with each other and getting high at the facility. There weren't enough counselors, and the counselors they had were only there 4 days a week.

Incomplete information given to clients. They state a gym on premises but it costs $25 per month and is of campus. Also out patient does not provide food even though it is providing housing , however when you have insurance the family has to provide for month sustenance It seems that they want to push through intake without all info

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Strengths included the clinical Staff, Nursing, MD / Psychiatrist / Caring Technicians Would like to see more outside 12 steps meetings My experience at Desert Palms was beyond my expectations. In terms of a strong Medical Team and experience treating co-occurring disorders - I was very impressed with the quality of care. My therapist was very experienced dealing with some of the core issues I chose to begin working on during my stay. The staff of clinical technicians were sharp, experienced and nurturing. I found my safe landing at Desert Palms and believe I'm ready to move on to the next stage of my recovery in the Intensive Outpatient Program.

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the facility's strengths include always having writing utensils.not enough arts supplies well im still sober

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This facility is organized and the staff is educated. Some were also in my shoes, so that made a difference too.This treatment center saved my life. It gave me a second chance at life and gave me back all the things I was giving away in my addiction. I would definitely recommend this facility to anyone wanting to change their life and get clean and sober. It is definitely worth it!

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staff treated me with utmost respect they were very patient with us counselor was extremely educated and helpful with my problems great place to start a new life of recovery

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staff at the time they weren't euip. to help with my spinal issuesI was taught the skills to help me stay xclean .. the alumi is so very important .

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Activities, counseling, leisure time, core programI were all great. I didn't really think there were any weaknesses Desert Palms staff are very knowledgeable. The techs have real world experience and that helps tremendously. The fellowship of the people in treatment was amazing. I really loved being here and was somewhat upset to leave.

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staffcant think of anyI took in as much as I could and partcipated

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Privacy, compassion, understanding . Really liked that all staff were in recovery also. I learned a lot about my addiction and how to put what I learned into practice.

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I don't know the other therapist but there were two other therapists that were really great they accompanied me with every aspect of recovery and support that I needed. The kitchen staff were awesome, the meals were big, the salad and cereal bar were all extras and I greatly appreciated it. One staff member by far is my favorite, he was welcoming from day one, threw my journey he has done nothing but give me support when I had thoughts running threw my head to gym suggestions to keep me on my weight that I should be and how to lift healthy, I recommend he gets an acknowledgement of some kind because I see him doing it to every one, in every aspect to people from around the world no matter what age color or creed, and I think hes awesome. I would recommend that some of the techs not use personal negative experiences in group exercises that would trigger certain patients. Also think they should hire 1 more house keeping staff to accomplish cleaning more efficiently.

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This facility was great.

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There are people that are truly concerned about your recovery and will do all that they can to help you accomplish that I cannot think of any weaknesses. The only thing I can say is that is the best place ever been to the best people I've been around not only did I make friends we became like family

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Sooooo bad, if you treasure your loved ones mental wellbeing don't send them here!!!

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This program is a joke, they lie to you to get you there and take ur phone away ... treat you like sub par humans when it is suppose to be a "luxury facility"... the food is soooooo bad, basically not edible, they won't work with special diets, I was personally discharged a week before I graduated because I yelled at another patient that deserved it and he told on me that I threatened him so the staff made up extra excuses to discharge me that were so far from the truth it's a disgrace to their facility and company name.. the staff is i knowledgeable and mean for no reason, treating grown men and women as children.. just because they have "nice" facilities they feel they can get away with it... head my warning please... I can't possibly say enough.. I truly tried to get the most I could out of my stay there, tried to keep positive and say "it could be worse" but in reality we paid way too much for this kind of treatment to be so ineffective and outright terrible..

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Compassionate, effective, accommodating, resourceful knowledgeable and a well-rounded program . Our 24 yr old son relocated to Desert Palm to enter an IPO program with Sunspire Rehab. He had done an out patient program located in our hometown, Fresno Ca, with some success. He relapsed after 14 mons, we searched for a program farther away from home, but not too far. Sunspire's team was able to offer a more complete program that included treatment of my son's mental disorder thus would help assure my son's successful treatment to his addiction of heroin. Their team approach is a great asset to the patient's success. There's a check and balance system that assists in the recovery. The program offered my son many tools including , personal responsibility , job search skills, drug addiction education, self- care knowledge, and a personal supervised medical care tailored to his behavioral (bi-polar, anxiety, and depression) needs. I can not express the gratitude I have for this faculty and their staff. We were allowed to visit my son few times (2) between his 90 day stay, and each time we were so impressed with his gains, but most of all thankful to see our son more hopeful, confident, assertive and acknowledging his responsibility to his success of sobriety. Our son has decided to stay in Palm Desert, upon finishing the IOP program. He transitioned to a Sober Living home, that Sunspire helped locate, appears to be a perfect fit for him. He continues to make daily gains. He attends his NA meetings daily. He has a job, and is maintaining his own finances . He is active in the Sunspire alumni program that is offered to those who have completed the program. This maintained connection to the IOP program is wonderful and continues to help monitor his progress. Feels like a family team effort ! As a family we have been given a renewed hope. We love our son, we are tremendously grateful that Sunspire has gained special a place in our son's recovery journey. We believe our son has a very good chance in maintaining his sobriety,and enjoying a normal healthy life style. Thank YOU, God bless your team of counselors/ nurses/doctor/psychologist/ resident leaders....together YOU made a difference!

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The staff here are very educated In the addiction recovery field, my counselor help me to uderstand so much about my self the food was good, we learned to meditate and understand addiction and why we do the this we do. This was a priceless expeirence for me I would not trade it for anything. Im still in touch with the facility and alumni, they are truly awesome people.

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Staff let me be heard and pointed me in a direction of continued action. Everything was fantastic but halfway through my stay a new kitchen manager was appointed and he seemed more concerned with cost rather than nutrition and most importantly flavor, yuck!

Desert Palms is a beautiful facility with a wonderful staff. i can't say enough about the staff truly caring people with a passion for recovery. This program not only gave me tools to help with my addiction, but also education, medical attention, and professional counseling for my behavioral and mental health. It is been a privilege to be apart of this institution and i am proud to say i am Desert Palms alumni. i am proud to say i am 6 months clean and sober!

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Desert Palms changed my life. The evidence based treatment and the knowledgeable staff were not only amazing, but went the extra mile to show you how much they cared. The people at Desert Palms changed my life for the better and I wouldn't be here without them.

Excellent staff and environment comfortable living space and plenty of focus on treatment. Individualized treatment plan with amazing group sessions as well as one on one therapy to dig into root issues and address them. Plenty of activities off campus as far as outside AA and NA meetings with weekend adventures offered. Amazing techs and support from all staff.

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Excellent Councilors and staff.We went to alot of different AA and NA meetings.I had gender problems also and they helped me . No activities besides gym.Nothing really to do but stand around and smoke at the smoke pit. Excellent if you have a drug or alcohol problem mixed with gender issues.They are good at handling duel treatments.They saved my life.

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I had such an amazing experience and will forever be grateful, I look forward to the next alumni reunion to see everyone.

When I went there I was broken and dying. I felt hopeless and worthless. I had almost given up, but my family had not. They called an addiction hotline that got me in contact with this location. I had told my parents I needed to go far away. Somewhere where I couldn't leave when I felt like giving up. This place took my insurance and could get me in the next morning. I agreed. That was the last night I have ever drank or used. I have been clean and sober since. And tomorrow, only by the grace of God it will be 2 1/2 years. I really liked the technicians and staff because most were recovering alcoholics or addicts themselves. They understood me. They could relate. The facility was very nice and the views were beautiful. Seeing mountains and palm trees were amazing! I'm used to corn fields. The trips we took as we leveled up in our treatment plan were fun. We got to go to AA and NA meetings. I thought the food was good. This place saved my life. These people saved my life. They taught me how to live again. Thank you!

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the staff and location, the best thing you can say about a place - it worked

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It's small and personalized. Very focused staff. Felt well cared for. I didn't like cathedral city. Polluted, a bit depressing. I liked the small size and holistic approach, including meditation.

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Strenghts: It worked. Weaknesses: Far away. If you are ready to go it will work.

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Strengths: PATIENT FOCUSED, CARING STAFF, WILL TO HELP, STAFF QUALIFICATIONS. SAVED MY BROTHER-IN-LAWS LIFE

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I would definitely reccomend the program to anybody looking for help. Overall the program really worked as a unit to help the people who went into their care. They set me up with a whole plan when I returned home that kept me on the right path. Now I just need to quit these darn cigarettes! The facility was very unified and the staff really worked well together. Sometimes they were relaxed with the rules and peoples behavior.

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I loved my time there and have not had to relapse since, two years later. The location and facilities were top-notch and very comfortable, allowing me to focus 100% on the process of saving my life. Positive aspects of the facility included: location, cleanliness, facilities and variety of programming. Downfalls were the meals and nutrition.

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It was in a nice location and had a good atmosphere. Lots of fun activities. Taught good coping skills. Individual needs weren't quite accommodated.

I must say how impressed I was when I went for Family weekend and how professional everyone is. The place is Beautiful and Clean and the food is Scrumptous. My Loved one is well and YOU ALL saved his Life. TY and God Bless Desert Palms and its staff. Texas Love!!

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DP OVERALL WAS SOMEWHAT SATISFACTORY. THE PROGRAM REALLY WORKS IF YOU GIVE IT 100 PERCENT AS I DID. THE INTAKE PROCESS WAS VERY EASY AND THE TECHS MADE ME FEEL VERY COMFORTABLE AS THEY SEARCHED MY BELONGINGS AND KEPT SOME ITEMS IN THEIR SAFEKEEPING. THE PHYSICIAN IS EXCELLENT THERE. HE REALLY LISTENS TO YOU AND EACH TIME I SAW HIM I MUST SAY I FELT HE GENUINELY CARED ABOUT ME AND MY ADDICTION. THE NURSING STAFF WAS VERY NICE, BUT DOUBLE CHECK AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE DISPENSING YOUR MEDICATIONS CORRECTLY BECAUSE ONCE THEY MADE A MISTAKE ON MINE, BUT I CAUGHT IT IN TIME. URINE SAMPLES ARE TAKEN EVERY THREE DAYS IN FRONT OF A MALE OR FEMALE NURSE -- YOU MAY NOT URINATE BEHIND A CLOSED DOOR. THE KITCHEN STAFF WAS GREAT. THE FOOD WAS DECENT AND THEY REALLY GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO MAKE IT AS APPETIZING AS POSSIBLE. HEALTHY SNACKS, BEVERAGES, JUICES, BREADS ,CHEESES AND LUNCHEON MEATS WERE AVAILABLE ALL DAY LONG. THIS WAS A PLUS. CERTAIN DAYS FISH WAS WAS SERVED, WHICH I FELT THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AN ALTERNATIVE BECAUSE FEWER THAN MORE PEOPLE LIKED THE FISH (SERVED TWICE.) THE STAFF KNOWN AS THE TECHS WERE JUST GREAT. AS THEY ARE MOSTLY RECOVERING ADDICTS THEMSELVES, THEY REALLY ARE UNDERSTANDING AND ACCOMMODATING WITHIN REASON. DAILY TRIPS FOR CIGARETTES AND A WEEKLY TRIPS TO TARGET WERE GREAT FOR BATH AND BEAUTY ITEMS (AT THE PATIENTS EXPENSE SO BRING CASH OR A DEBIT CARD.) A HAIRDRESSER CAME ONCE A WEEK WHICH WAS GREAT (EXTRA COST.) NOT ALL OF TH ROOMS WERE TOTALLY UP TO PAR. BEDS VARIED IN SIZE FROM TWIN TO QUEEN AT VARIOUS AGES. THE HOUSEKEEPING STAFF WAS PRETTY GOOD CONSIDERING THEY HAVE TWO LOCATIONS (SOBER LIVING) AND THE DP. THEY ARE CURRENTLY ADDRESSING SOME ISSUES CONCERNING UPDATING THE BATHROOMS AS SOME WROUGHT AND MILDEW IS PRESENT IN SOME OF THE BATHROOMS. OTHERWISE TOILETS, SINKS AND SHOWERS ARE BASIC BUT VERY CLEAN. THE THERAPISTS ARE ALL VERY GOOD BUT THEIR BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE LEVEL VARIES GREATLY. I THOUGHT MY THERAPIST WAS WAY TOO HARD ON ME AND COULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE MORE SENSITIVE TOWARDS ME. DP DEFINITELY HOLDS TRUE TO THE PHILOSOPHY THAT EVERYONE DESERVES TREATMENT. AT TIMES ,OTHER PATIENTS WERE ROWDY AND HARD TO HANDLE. DURING MY STAY THERE WERE A NUMBER OF INSTANCES WHERE PATIENTS WERE DISCHARGED BEFORE COMPLETION. ARGUMENTS AND CONFRONTATIONS WERE TOLERATED BY STAFF AND THE CLINICAL DIRECTOR WHICH MADE ME A LITTLE CONCERNED FOR MY OWN SAFETY AT TIMES. DP COULD ADDRESS THESE ITEMS A LITTLE SWIFTER IN MY OPINION. AS YOU ACHIEVE HIGHER LEVELS DURING THE COURSE OF THE PROGRAM YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO GO ON HIKES, THE MOVIES, A GO-CART ARCADE PARK, THE PALM SPRINGS AREAL TRAMWAY AND TO AN OUTING FOR EQUINE THERAPY WITH HORSES. THESE ACTIVITIES WERE EXCELLENT AND MADE MY STAY AT DESERT PALMS TOLERABLE. THEY HAVE SAVED MY LIFE AND THINK OF MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO WORK THERE LIKE MY EXTENDED FAMILY.

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