Adolescent Athletes: Paradigm Malibu

When the two partners, top West Coast psychology mavens Cole Rucker and Jeff Nalin, sold their Echo Malibu adolescent center to CRC Health Corp., it was one of CRC’s earlier deals for smaller high-end centers. And it contained what was standard for CRC transactions, which was a non-compete clause that kept the two highly entrepreneurial clinicians out of the California Six-Bed Model marketplace for a time.”Frankly, it felt good to step back for a while and not work as hard, as well as get an opportunity to get a sense of the lay of the land,” Rucker told Treatment Magazine, adding that it didn’t feel bad either to enjoy some of the fruits of the considerable labor both Nalin and Rucker had pumped into building Echo Malibu.

Five Years On….  

Fast forward in the years after the sale of Echo Malibu and the landscape had indeed changed considerably, namely a huge housing crash led recession that allowed the two treatment entrepreneurs the opportunity to get back into the market on terms that were very much more their own. And what has emerged is a new adolescent program from Nalin and Rucker called Paradigm Malibu, a six-bed operation the two opened a couple of years ago. And after two years of being up and running, what the two psychologists noticed was a trend developing in the type of teenager that was seeking out help at Paradigm. “Within the six-bed census we were getting three or four sometimes very high performing young athletes,” says Nalin.

High Anxiety

Among the adolescent athletes that Rucker says have sought out treatment at Paradigm are highly ranked surfers, equestrians, lacrosse players, field hockey, and football players, among other sports. “And what all these athletes were exhibiting in common in terms of byproducts of their success were very high levels of stress and anxiety,” says Nalin, adding that clients were dealing with the anxiety and pressure to perform in different ways, most of them inappropriate to varying degrees.

A New Facility

Due to the tremendous need that they were seeing coming out of Paradigm’s first six-bed facility, both Nalin and Rucker decided that a second six-bed facility was needed, one that would focus entirely on the needs of this new young athlete demographic – a demographic in which the needs of both parent and athlete did not seem to be being met. “That’s because they viewed a period of  treatment as a potentially a career-ending interruption in the training they needed either to maintain their standings in their sports if competing professionally or in the training they needed to get the scholarships needed at the collegiate level or the like,” says Rucker.

Integrated Program

With the acquisition of the second house devoted entirely to the young athlete, those fears are put to rest because the program there offers athletic training in whatever sport the young athlete excels that is completely integrated into Paradigm’s treatment program. What parent and athlete wind up with is the satisfaction of knowing that the athletes’s career is likely to be enhanced over the long term,  says Rucker To give you an idea of the level of training and help that the young athletes get and how that integrates into the treatment offered at the Paradigm Athletes Track Facility, one only has to look at the choice Rucker and Nalin made for program director at the Paradigm Athletes Track Facility.

Combining Treatment and Athletics

Dr. Michael Graham, the athletic track program director, is not only a doctorate in psychology, according to Rucker, he is also a former member of the United States Olympic Track and Field team, Rucker says. And the Paradigm athletic track also has a group of advisors that are top names in their athletic specialties. For example, former track and field star Olympian Carl Lewis, who chairs the advisory committee at the Paradigm athletes program, has the following to say when it comes to young athletes attending the Paradigm program:  “I’ve spent much of my life helping young athletes develop skills specific to their sport as well as life skills. Over the years I’ve encountered youth who struggle with mental health, substance abuse and addiction issues. Paradigm Malibu has developed the first residential program to address these issues without sacrificing their sport. I am honored to be part of something impacting so many, in such a unique and powerful way.”

Ability to Practice Sport of Choice

During the young athletes treatment at Paradigm Malibu they are able to practice and train at a very high level on their sport of choice. “We have access to a very wide range of specialist trainers and experts who are working with our young athlete clients on a daily basis,” say both Nalin and Rucker adding that Paradigm will be constantly working to improve the range of sports specialty training expertise available to its clientele in the athletes track.

Strong Demand

In the two months or so that the new Paradigm Malibu Athletes Track Facility has been up and running, Rucker says that census at the six-bed center has been pretty much 100 percent full, running at capacity. “The demand for the program has just been extremely high,” says Rucker. Of course, with that kind of demand being exhibited for the athletes track program, the idea of expansion would be be natural. But Rucker says that both he and Nalin think it is way too early to be thinking along those lines. Says Rucker: “right now we are focused on improving and perfecting.”