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Willow Springs Center

690 Edison Way, Reno, Nevada, 89502
Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex illness, and long term sobriety takes more than active parenting and good intentions. The earlier the substance abuse begins, the more likely it will become a serious issue – posing a greater challenge for adolescents. Residential addiction treatment at Willow Springs Center is centered in the Ascent Program. The philosophy of this program is recovery is an ongoing journey which begins upon admission and continues throughout the person’s life. This is a valuable component to the patients’ clinical work and impacts their overall mental health treatment.

Facility Highlights

  • Family Therapy
  • Play Therapy
  • Psycho-Education Groups


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    The focus of cognitive behavioral therapy (also called CBT) is helping people to understand the thoughts and emotions that underlie their addiction with the goal of learning new, healthier and more productive ways to understand and express themselves.
  • Family Program

    Research shows that the odds of successful, sustained recovery from addiction are far higher when family members and loved ones are involved in treatment. Drug and alcohol addiction often have genetic roots, whether related to substance abuse, mental illness or both. Family dynamics also play a role and, often, family members are the first to realize a loved one has developed an addiction. Also, it’s important for family members to understand and embrace the lifestyle changes that are required to sustain recovery.

Facility Settings

  • Average Location/Amenities

Meet the Staff

  • Dana M. Arlien, MD
    Dana M. Arlien, MDMedical Director
    Dana M. Arlien, MD is the medical director at Willow Spring Center. She has an undying compassion for the quality of medical services for those entrusted to our care. An accomplished author, avid outdoors person and the recipient of numerous academic awards and scholarships, Dr. Arlien is a former participant in NASA’s Space Life Sciences Training Program. She completed her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the University of Nevada, School of Medicine, where she was chief fellow for child and adolescent psychiatry. She is licensed to practice medicine in the State of Nevada. She earned her doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her bachelor’s degree with honors in neurobiology, physiology and behavior at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Arlien received the Outstanding Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Resident Award in 2006 from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • David Briggs, LCSW, LCADC
    David Briggs, LCSW, LCADCDirector of Clinical Services
    As director of clinical services at Willow Springs Center, David Briggs, LCSW, LCADC is responsible for the therapeutic programs for all patients. He is also the director of Willow Springs’ Outpatient Program. Previously, Briggs was manager of Willow Springs’ Ascent Program for substance abuse treatment, where he developed a comprehensive treatment approach based on the matrix model on addictions. Earlier in his career as an alcohol and drug program coordinator and youth advisor with Washoe County Juvenile Services at Wittenberg Hall, Briggs facilitated group educational and counseling sessions with detained adolescents, trained probation officers and related professionals and evaluated programs using evidence-based techniques.

Treatment Center Links

Rehabs 360 Guide


In operation since 1988, Willow Springs Center is a medically-supervised residential treatment facility serving children and adolescents who struggle with significant mental health or substance use disorders. Military family members can receive specialized, but integrated, care. The Reno-based facility offers four separate residential programs: two age-separated psychiatric tracks, an intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) track focused on emotion management, and an addiction track called the Ascent Program.


Admission to Willow Springs Center is limited to individuals who have previously attempted some form of intensive outpatient treatment to address their concerns. Referrals to the center are accepted from hospitals, detox programs, therapists, schools, probation officers, and family members, among others.

Treatment team members take pride in providing advanced clinical care in a positive environment, according to the facility's website. A multi-disciplinary approach involves such evidence-based methods as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI), along with 12-step concepts and a peer culture that builds on responsibilities and privileges.

Willow Springs' separate programs address different client needs. For example, the DBT Program provides a higher level of structure and supervision for high-risk clients. Most programming utilizes one-on-one counseling, group and family therapy, life skills training, psycho-educational classes, and recreational therapy. All clients participate in discharge planning for continuing care, which includes referrals to outpatient counseling.

While in treatment, residents attend Truckee Meadows School, the center's on-site, state-licensed private school that provides elementary through high school education. Class sizes are typically between nine and 15 students, and a self-paced alternative education is also supported.


Willow Springs Center employs 10 board certified child and adolescent psychiatrists along with licensed clinical social workers, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, and recreational therapists. The website highlights the center's commitment to diversity and collaboration.


The 116-bed secured residential facility provides dorm-like lodging and 24-hour supervision. Willow Springs Center's campus features a large gym, a courtyard for recreational use, an outdoor amphitheater, and a ropes course. Communication with parents is a stated priority on the center's website and options include audio/video conferencing and daily visiting hours during meals. Photographs feature open spaces for group meetings.


Feedback from former clients of Willow Springs Center is decidedly mixed. Of the three alumni polled to date by Rehabs.com, one offered a favorable review and two were mostly critical. Two shared concerns about the restrictiveness of some policies and complained about the "unhealthy" food.

Nevertheless, alum Lapis characterized her therapist and psychiatrist as "excellent" and wrote that she completed treatment as "a person that could use their skills better." S.R., on the other hand, reported that the center was "not LGBT friendly," and alum A. cited inconsistencies and inattentiveness of some staff as weaknesses.

Several reviews posted to a public Facebook page for Willow Springs and to Google concurred with trends on Rehabs.com. On the facility's Facebook page, which it can manage, seven individuals contributed to an average rating of 2.6 out of five stars, where repeated complaints cited food and restrictions. On the other hand, H.S. wrote a favorable review that was representative of about half the alumni comments. "It was a really difficult program to compleate but they dont give up on you," H.S. wrote.[1]

Likewise on Google, 27 individuals (a mix of alumni and friends and family) awarded an average rating of 2.9 out of five stars for the rehab center. Lilian agreed with the sentiment of H.S., representing the treatment program as challenging, even unenjoyable, but helpful. Other comments offered uneven perspectives on the quality of staff members.[2]

Notably, most positive alumni reviews referenced participation in the DBT program.


Four of the five friends and family members of alumni polled by Rehabs.com to date were not pleased with their Willow Springs Center experience. The one positive loved one recommend the program in part based on its high level of security and what the reviewer described as necessary and effective strictness. The three other loved ones complained about disorganization (including a rushed admissions process), not enough individualized therapy, unhealthy food, and most of all ineffective treatment. W.D. also criticized the center's inclusion of a high number of court ordered clients."

One parent on Facebook reported a need for more family involvement, while concluding that the center helped her daughter.


According to the Willow Springs Center website, the facility accepts most major health care plans, TRICARE, and Nevada's Medicaid. Two individuals noted in their Rehabs.com reviews that their treatment was covered by Medicaid or private insurance, but another one cited the program's expense as a weakness.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Willow-Springs-Center/103509119725474
[2] https://goo.gl/cnDM33

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