Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services in Petaluma, CA

Call (866) 342-7459 to Contact Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services

Overall Rating

(4.5 of 5)
Treatment Effectiveness
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1733 Skillman Lane
Petaluma CA 94952

Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services Philosophy

Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services provides residential treatment for adolescent boys with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health issues and outpatient programming for both adolescent boys and girls. The residential treatment program is designed specifically for males ages 12-17 struggling with substance abuse and accompanying mental health issues. Located on six idyllic acres in Sonoma County, CA, this highly individualized and family-centric program serves a maximum of six adolescents and their families at any given time. Muir Wood’s treatment team includes board-certified addiction treatment physicians, board-certified psychiatrists, licensed therapists, certified counselors, masters-level adventure therapists and masters-level and multiple-subject State credentialed teachers. Key program components of the residential program include a weekly family intensive, comprehensive psychological testing, twice weekly individual therapy with a licensed therapist, weekly assessment by a board-certified addiction psychiatrist, twice weekly individual family therapy with a licensed therapist, and an all day adventure therapy program with masters-level therapists. The residential program also includes a 3-month Parent Support and Coaching Aftercare curriculum-based component led by a licensed therapist who remains in contact with parents for a weekly 75-minute phone call. Muir Wood’s mixed-gender outpatient program, located in Marin, offers both a 9-hour per week Intensive Outpatient Program and a 6-hour per week Outpatient Program for teens and their families. Key components of the outpatient programs include a highly credentialed clinical team, weekly individual therapy with a licensed therapist, weekly family therapy with a licensed therapist, and weekly randomized drug testing.

Areas of Specialization

  • An Engaging Program Designed Specifically for Adolescent Boys with a Number of Experiential Therapies
    Experiential therapies at Muir Wood include 3X weekly personal training with a certified personal trainer at a community gym, weekly equine assisted psychotherapy on a 1000 acre ranch, weekly yoga, weekly-guided meditation, and weekly mixed martial arts training. These experiential therapies help keep teens engaged in treatment and illustrate healthy ways they can have fun living a life free of drugs and alcohol, while reducing anxiety and depression without drugs and alcohol.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
    EMDR is a highly specific, research-validated form of therapy that can help people overcome traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. With EMDR, a trained practitioner uses bilateral stimulation, eye movement and touch to stimulate parts of the brain as a patient recounts certain experiences and memories as a way to more thoroughly process uncomfortable, painful feelings.

Facility Highlights

Mixed-Gender Outpatient Programs

Sunday Adventure Therapy Program Led by a Masters-Level Therapist

Weekly, Comprehensive Family Programming

Meet the Staff

Michael Wachter, M.D.

Consulting Psychiatrist, Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Board-Certified in Addiction Medicine

Photo of Michael Wachter, M.D.

Dr. Michael Wachter is a board-certified psychiatrist who has practiced psychiatry in his native San Francisco Bay Area for over 17 years and is board-certified in addiction medicine. Along with his position at Muir Wood, Dr. Wachter is also a staff psychiatrist at the University of California–San Francisco (UCSF). Prior to joining Muir Wood as the consulting psychiatrist, Dr. Wachter served as the medical director for the Thunder Road Adolescent Chemical Dependency Program in Oakland for 7 years. A recipient of the prestigious Laughlin Award of the National Psychiatric Endowment Foundation for Excellence in Therapeutic Skills and Dedication to the Welfare of Patients, Dr. Wachter is highly regarded for his work with adolescents with substance abuse and co-occurring behavioral health issues.

Scott Sowle

Founder & Executive Director

Photo of Scott Sowle

For Scott, Muir Wood represents the culmination of many years experience developing nationally recognized adolescent and adult programs. Muir Wood is often referred to as the gold standard in the treatment of adolescent substance abuse and mental health treatment. It has been recognized as a “place of light and hope, where kindness, trust and respect are established as the keystones of life-long recovery” by Kathy Ketcham, best selling author of “Teens Under the Influence”. 360 Guide

Review by Contributors


Set on ten grassy acres of land in California’s Sonoma County, Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services is a residential mental health and substance abuse rehab for adolescent boys ages 12 to 17, and an outpatient program for both genders. The facility offers intensive, individualized treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, as well co-occurring mental health disorders. It is one of 279 (21.3 percent) of facilities in California that offer treatment specifically for adolescents. Detox services are available on-site.


The treatment process at Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services begins with a phone assessment to determine each client’s eligibility for treatment. The facility also suggests visiting before enrolling clients in order to better understand the program. The facility is able to devise highly personalized treatment plans based on information gathered during a comprehensive assessment and thorough psychological evaluation. Clinical activities include weekly one-on-one counseling and regular process groups on topics such as relapse prevention, trauma, and life skills.

The program’s integrated approach combines 12-step philosophy and evidence-based practices such as motivational interviewing (MI), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The program also includes holistic and experiential therapies, including yoga and wilderness-based activities. Treatment lasts between 45 to 90 days, making it one of California’s 440 (33.6 percent)of long-term residential treatment facilities.

Residents also attend young people’s 12-step meetings six days per week, both on- and off-site. In addition to yoga and adventure-based activities such as camping, kayaking, and hiking, clients can participate in equine therapy, guided meditation classes, and art therapy.

Family involvement is another key component of treatment. Family members are integrated into their loved one’s treatment plan via family therapy sessions and process groups, as well as a family program held every other Saturday.

Academics are also taken into account. Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services offers a year-round academic program that is certified as a private school by California’s Department of Education. It is one of 44 (3.4 percent) of facilities in the state certified by other/non-treatment agencies. The program has a student-to-teacher ratio of 6:1, as well as individualized lesson plans, ACT and SAT prep, and weekly progress reports for parents.

Outpatient care is available for boys and girls from ages 12 to 19. It includes a day treatment program that includes nine hours a week of programming, an intensive outpatient (IOP) option with six hours of weekly programming, and a regular outpatient track with three hours a week of programming.

The facility also offers aftercare support that includes referral to community-based support groups, one-off therapy sessions, and ongoing therapy for those with mental illness.


There are a variety of treatment team members on staff, including board-certified psychiatrists, licensed therapists, board-certified addiction treatment physicians, plus numerous certified counselors, and experiential therapists. The school is run by a master’s level, state-credentialed teacher.

Muir Wood is one of 366 (27.9 percent) of California facilities accredited by CARF and 182 (13.9 percent) of California facilities accredited by the Joint Commission.


The residential program admits no more than 16 boys at one time. The teens live in the bright and homey main residence, which includes a cozy living room, a family-style dining room, and a large kitchen where a chef prepares meals daily, plus a spacious backyard with patios and picnic tables. Each bedroom sleeps two and has a private bath. Residents use the well-equipped gym three times a week to work out with the rehab’s personal trainer.


At the time of this writing, one alum provided mostly negative feedback about his experience at Muir Wood. While Alexandre admitted the facility “was beautiful”, he wrote about “very disrespectful” staff and felt that he “worked hard” without seeing anything come “out of it.”

On its official Facebook page, Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services earned 4.5 out of five stars from 31 reviews. [1] Many of the reviews provided positive feedback about the facility's treatment team and individualized treatment plan. Pete wrote in a representative review: “Muir Woods Adolescent program has an outstanding treatment teams of Physicians, specialists and therapists that not only address the treatment of addiction but the whole family,” Some of the negative feedback centers around the facility’s medication policies.

On Google, the Skillman Lane Location has an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars from 13 reviews to date. [2] Overall, reviewers indicated that the program was successful. Reviewers wrote how the staff was “professional and committed.” The only two negative reviews written at this time of writing focused on billing and how clients are admitted into the program.


At the time of this writing, 17 loved ones have provided feedback to for Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services. Most feedback came from parents. Thirteen of the reviews were positive and four were negative.

Three loved ones rated the facility on a number of categories, with four out of five stars or higher given for the level of staff experience and training, family participation, and cleanliness.

The positive reviews provided positive feedback about the quality of the food, staff members, and the effectiveness of the program. Loved one C.M. wrote representatively: "An excellent program and environment. Healthy food, supportive staff, nurturing, engaging programs. Our whole family benefited and continue to experience the benefits of the Muir Wood experience--a true light and answer in dark and challenging times."

Negative reviews noted the divide between those in treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse. One anonymous parent, whose son was in treatment for depression, felt the mixed environment with those who struggle with substance misuse provided negative exposure.


Muir Wood accepts private insurance. According to information provided by the facility to, treatment costs $1,200 per day and $36,000 per month.

Financing options are provided through partnerships with healthcare lending programs, and the staff can help families apply. Self-pay is also accepted.

[2] GoogleReviews

Published on May 2019

User Reviews

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It's no easy decision to admit your child into a residential treatment program but the Muir Wood team and staff were an excellent choice for my son and his care. Their professional and genuine approach put me at ease and left me knowing that he was safe.


I personally think this place was beautiful but some clients and staff members were very disrespectful and I also felt like all the information was repeated many many times. Overall I thought it was not helpful because I did not learn anything and I also stayed there 2 months and I worked hard but nothing came out of it. Im not blaming you guys


As was mentioned in another post, the facility has overall good intentions, but the personal issues the director suffers from adds the potential of manipulation and unprofessional treatment. She orchestrated a bad situation so the client would be removed, using her expertise to sabatoge instead of heal. Be careful.


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Our 15 year old son spent 36 days at Muir Wood in 2017. We had a very positive experience. Amazing staff and very caring. The environment is perfect to take a step back and reflect about life challenges. Actually a place you would consider to spend a family summer vacation. Our son got out of his first treatment with much improvement in understanding his addiction disease and coping skills. The family support program is very helpful. After a relapse, he would only go back into treatment if it was at Muir Wood, he doesn't want to even consider any other place. The only pain point was the constant health insurance negotiations, with only a few days approved at a time, so we never knew when we should be prepared to have him out of treatment and back home.


I visit a family member while he was in treatment. I was very disappointed just in the short period of time I spent at the facility. I sat in on a group recovery meeting on a Saturday afternoon, listening to the speaker share his story of addiction. Basically my general feeling is that my family member learned new ways of bad behavior, such as breaking into locked cabinets/(picking locks), sharing other addictive behavior with other adolescent residents. He was punished for bad behavior, and was not allowed to go on any outings, this only added to feelings of failure, instead of teaching adolescents better guidance and structure and different ways to behave to increase positive results, not with punishment, he could have stayed in his own home to receive punishment.I genuinely feel it was a waste of insurance money, a poor choice of treatment plan, the outcome was unsuccessful, and wasted time at this facility.


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An excellent program and environment. Healthy food, supportive staff, nurturing, engaging programs. Our whole family benefited and continue to experience the benefits of the Muir Wood experience--a true light and answer in dark and challenging times.


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My son was at Muir Wood for two and a half months. He already had been through wilderness programs twice. Returning home only to relapse. He is now over year sober. Excelling in school and happy. I think what made the difference this time was our involvement as parents in his treatment. I found staff at Muir Wood to be extremely knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. I would recommend to any parent that they consider Muir Wood. I have given our families contact information to the staff at Muir Wood to give to any parents thinking about placing their child in treatment.


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Our son was well taken care of at Muir Wood. Staff brought him back to physical health, gave him tools to begin to understand himself better emotionally, and provided a safe and serene environment for him to recover and begin a more enriching life. For our family, Muir Wood was a positive life-affirming experience.


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Two staff members in particular, and the rest of the staff at Muir Wood were wonderful with my son. They were all very professional, caring, and could not have done a better job at helping my son. His time at Muir Wood was a life changing experience for our entire family. I\'ve recommended them to a close friend, and would highly do so for anyone reading this review.


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How do you thank someone for saving your son and your family? Muir Wood did that for us through their amazing clinical work, genuine dedication to troubled kids, and their good heart. Our 15 year old son was dead set on not going but almost magically upon arrival embraced this beautiful place and the regimen there. We loved that he was among his peers and that he\'d have the open spaces and time to turn himself around... with a lot of help of course! It\'s been a little over a year and things are good. And that is enough for us right now. Just being able to say that again is a blessing. Thank you Muir Wood. – A Muir Wood Mom


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Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Service not only saved my son, who is now three years sober after being there, but also saved my family. We have a beautiful relationship between siblings, mother and father and extended family because of what we learned from the counselors, team and group therapies and educational sessions we attended while our son was there. He is devoted to helping others as well as himself and we are eternally grateful to Muir Wood.


Our son Damien (not his real name) spent 90 days at Muir Wood Teen in the spring of 2016. First of all, he is doing fine. Thank God for that. But thank Muir Wood as well. One particular staff member and the treatment team there were beyond accommodating, the facility is a teenager\'s dream home and apparently, Damien was well fed because he was returned to us about 5 pounds the better. We could not say enough good things about Muir Wood and the staff there and encourage concerned moms and dads like us to do as we did.


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Our son got excellent care in this program. The mandatory family therapy and education programs are informative and worthwhile. They were upfront and transparent about costs. Good model for the treatment of adolescent substance abuse.


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Muir Wood was the second residential program that my son attended. Overall, it was a very disappointing experience. The other kids wanted to fight with the staff and each other, brag about using drugs, etc. My kid just wanted to stop being depressed. It was really traumatizing for him. In retrospect, it would have been better if he had no treatment rather than being exposed to what he was exposed to at this place.


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One medical staff member... in the program is fantastic but hus help is least to be desired. Ability to follow thru with treatment from beginning to success. When the road gets rough they push you off the road and out into the field alone. I do not feel that this treatment program has the patients best interest at heart. Basically...get a reason to get them out and move onto the next.


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workers are easy to talk do not judge and very understanding. no judging by employees,good listeners.


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Our son went through the Muir Wood program with flying colors. The psychological testing gave us a real diagnosis and the weekly neurofeedback we think helped tremendously. Thank you Drs. for your support and guidance and constant communication. And thank you to another staff member for the incredible aftercare support. -- Grateful.


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I am so grateful for Muir Wood. My son had had been struggling for years and had been at both a wilderness program and another treatment center before we found Muir Wood. The staff at Muir Wood were compassionate and they truly treated my son\'s underlying issues. They really did save my son and help heal our family. We\'re grateful


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Mis-diagnossed my son. I would not recommend. This place has a lot of potential if the Owner had a better understanding of good clinical practice. The family therapist has little insight into her own issues and how they play out in her work with families.

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