Photo of Barry Schoer and Jackson Browne
stock photo of family
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I am Barry Schoer, the CEO of Sanctuary Centers since 1983, and I want to welcome you to the testimonials section of our website. Since 1976 we have served over 9,000 clients with a success rate second to none.

Included in this section are reviews and success stories of our clients and their families. In addition to these reviews and testimonials, we welcome the opportunity to give you the names and telephone numbers of many of our families so that you can contact them directly. Please feel free to contact me.

If you haven't already, please watch our video. It features testimonials from some of our graduates. Finally, please note that, as a health facility, Sanctuary Centers cannot directly disclose any aspects of client treatment. Therefore, we cannot refute or substantively respond to any review we receive on third-party websites. We are proud that the grand majority of those reviews are positive, and we encourage you to view all of them instead of just the reviews that those websites have chosen to feature on the first page.

“Sanctuary Centers has been helping members of my family for several years. I'm very grateful for their services and I am proud to say that I support them.”

—Jackson Browne, singer-songwriter

“During the most painful and dangerous turn in our son's journey, the Sanctuary Center offered what I've not encountered at any other dual diagnosis facility or treatment program of its kind—decades of grounded therapeutic experience combined with the presence of genuine love that guides their professional process of supporting their clients. As a therapist myself for over 30 yrs., I found their multi-dimensional program provided a stable, wholistic healing bridge steadily opened doors to our son reconnecting with both his essential self and vocational life direction. Our son fundamentally turned his life around as result of his Sanctuary experience—it simply wouldn't have happened without their highly skilled support throughout each and every dimension of his comprehensive treatment. The grounded depth and breadth of the Sanctuary program is indeed rare to find—especially so in this challenging arena where dual diagnosis and recovery work are combined.”

—Gavin Frye, MFT

"Sanctuary of Santa Barbara, is the setting of a real new beginning. A real "growing up." Coming here 3 years ago I was still in a mindset of spoiled kid who was well taken care of and who expected all good things.

When I entered this new space, I was still not 100% sure and had reservations of turning away from my old unhealthy, self-destructive/sabotaging behaviors. I thought these unhealthy behaviors just affected ME, but really affected my most important relationships in respect towards myself, friends, and especially family.

After 3 months of following the rules and standards of the house as best as I could-- something clicked. I though, "I don't want to go back to my old way of life," the old behaviors---and focus and be really present in the therapy in group, a recovery meeting, or with a case manager.

The everyday expectations, groups, and interactions between the clients and staff encouraged healthy growth and encouraged me to fully and whole-heartedly commit to recovery.

For mental health---the psychiatrist Dr. Eli Katz is amazing. He actually listens to the patient, and considers how the patient is feeing. The case managers and drug and alcohol therapists are amazing as well. They are approachable and cultivate a safe space for their clients, whether in group or one-on-one setting.

The staff at the house are always welcoming, and readily available around the clock if needed. With the staff I definitely learned the importance of consideratio in interpersonal communications.

So, that was 2012 when I first entered inpatient. Since then, I have gone to SBCC, volunteered at Transition House and an elderly residential care home, have had an amazing internship, and now finishing up a few quarters at Antioch University in the major of Communications.

Most importantly, the relationships that were the most sacred to me--have returned, and more. Miracles do happen, and because of Sanctuary I was able to be a witness to that in my own life."

—Jen C., Sanctuary client

"Almost 25 years ago I was on the streets drinking and using drugs. Something told me that I could not live like this or I would surely die. My faith stuck with me and found hope when I was introduced to staff at Sanctuary Centers. At the time, I was locked in the PHF County psychiatric unit and had no place to go.

I took advantage of this offer at Sanctuary with hope that my life would come back together. I went to the Sanctuary House program knowing that it wasn't going to be easy to live a better life. But immediately, I applied myself to this program including all the rules, requirements of my participation, activities and chores etc. I spent a couple of years in Sanctuary House and made a lot of friends and started a group for those who are dual diagnosed.

After I moved out two years later I was still involved in dual diagnosis as I learned to live independently in an apartment. I stayed in this apartment, stayed sober and two years later was offered an apartment run by Sanctuary Centers. There I attended many therapy sessions and found myself a new home around people who loved and cared for me.

I still live in my own apartment run by Sanctuary. I have freedom to do as I choose which includes therapy and dual diagnosis and found myself today being 23 years sober. I found that life isn't always easy and I don't always get my way, but who does. I have come to the realization that life is a challenge, but I always have Sanctuary staff to back me up when I'm in need.

Barry Schoer, the Executive Director of Sanctuary Centers has always been a friend of mine. He is a very reasonable man and understanding and well-trusted. I thank him for being close by me throughout the years that I have been at Sanctuary Centers.

To those who suffer mental illness and addiction to drugs or alcohol, I highly recommend Sanctuary Centers for treatment and recovery."

—John M., Sanctuary Client

"I believe I have a unique situation with Sanctuary Centers, as I have been both employed by, and am presently am in the Arlington Apartments and have services at Sanctuary. I worked for Sanctuary for about 4 1/2 years, and found the staff to be caring and concerned about the clients.

I have been living in the Arlington Apartments now for 10 years, and find them to be a safe place to live, and am amazed at how much the caseworkers care for their clients. They have a holistic approach to their treatment, caring for body, soul and spirit.

I would highly recommend Sanctuary Centers to anyone with a desire to work out issues concerning mental health and dually diagnosed, in order for us to live as independently as is possible. And that is what the caseworkers help us with.

Finally, I highly recommend Barry Schoer, Executive Director, as he has to be aware of all that goes into his programs. He is fair and is truly caring for both clients and staff."

—Kit M., Sanctuary Client

"I love the Sanctuary program. I live in one of their apartments downtown. It's just wonderful. The program has helped me become stable and also very healing."

—Jackie R., Sanctuary Client

"Sanctuary Centers provides very therapeutic group options. You can be creative in Poetry or Art group as well. I feel now that i have gone through the program i have grown and my illness has become more under control and manageable. I have achieved this through the help of Therapists at this program. Everyone is very caring and supportive.

I really enjoy attending lunch at the program. Our chef Carmen is very hospitable, kind, and a good cook.

I recommend this program to anyone who's going through a hard time and needs to get back on their feet. Volunteering at the program is very helpful for future goals including goals in the work area."

—Narina M., Sanctuary Client

"Prior to coming to Sanctuary, I had been in a very intensive residential treatment center for 6 months, which was very focused on one-on-one therapy as well as talk therapy based groups only. This was after 3 years of being severely depressed, suicidal, and suffering from extreme anxiety. During those 3 years I was in the hospital in a locked unit 5 times...3 for suicidal ideation and twice after actual attempts. My mom found Sanctuary after I had gotten all that I could out of the program I was in. I was ready for a program to restore my life back to one of being a fully functioning person in the world. I had an assessment meeting with Lisa Moschini and she explained how things worked in the house, treatment plans, and after care once I graduated from going through the house program. That same day I met Barry Schoer. They both seemed extremely dedicated to what is best for their clients and I decided to go.

Sanctuary House has a phase plan. It allows the clients to move up from phase to phase as they are comfortable in doing so, along with input from the staff. I found it to be a good system for me. I quickly moved up to the phase where I could be in the community volunteering for a company that I enjoyed. This was very rewarding and helped me to feel a sense of contribution again. While in the house I felt safe and the staff was very good to me...very much available for anything I needed. And I enjoyed the other clients in the house. Of course it is not easy living with people you don't know, who all have one issue or another, but it gave me a sense of comradery and I found that very positive.

The first week I was there I met with Dr. Katz. He made good adjustments to my medications and slowly I started feeling better. Dr. Katz is very knowledgeable. I felt very comfortable with him and his recommendations. He is also very open to input. He is so responsive as well. I still meet with him today. The first week I was there I also met Debra Simon. She facilitates a group called DBT. She is amazing. And DBT has taught me so much about managing my symptoms and my life. It has opened up a whole new outlook on the world for me. It takes time, but it has been crucial in my healing and continued good mental health. I can't say enough about this therapy and the skills I have learned.

I graduated from the house and moved into the apartments 7 years ago and I am very happy. Coming from such a dark place years ago, I NEVER thought I'd be able to say that again. I am enjoying my life and I feel mentally stable and well. I am closer to my children then I ever thought possible and have many friends. I still have my challenges...but that is the beauty of Sanctuary...the staff is always willing to help me when I do. I feel a great sense of independence, which is wonderful... but I always know "they've got my back"."

—Dawne B., Sanctuary Client

"I was going through a really tough time before coming to Sanctuary. I had been in and out of hospitals for a while and completely lost. I was really depressed and needed help. My parents heard about Sanctuary from their friends whose son had been helped at Sanctuary.

When they told me about the program I was nervous but figured I'd give it a try as I had nothing to lose. I met with Lisa first who talked to me about what was going on in my life and what I wanted to get out of the program. When I checked in I met my counselor and other staff that would be on my team. The other housemates were friendly and the house was nice.

I liked the different groups and counselors that helped me during the day. My favorite groups were with Dale and Perie like art therapy and self-esteem. Carmen is the cook at lunchtime and she is just like my loving grandmother. She makes such delicious Mexican food on Thursdays that I still look forward to.

While at Sanctuary, I went to volunteer at DAWG, a local dog shelter and loved it. It's also great because some of the counselors bring their dogs to group too. I also started taking science classes at City College and hope to graduate in a year or so. LaConya is now helping me get a part-time job working with animals or tutoring kids. After graduating from the House I stayed in Santa Barbara and do DBT with Debra. She is really caring and the group has given me the tools to stay in the moment and keep a daily diary of my emotions so I can stay on track with my wellness. DBT has also given me self-confidence and mindfulness of emotions. I'm happier, calmer and really doing great with my parents.

My parents say coming to Sanctuary saved my life and I would have to agree 100%."

—Kim H., Sanctuary Client

“Before coming to Santa Barbara and entering into the Sanctuary program, I was not able to take care of myself and be accountable for anything. Life shows up and thanks to the Sanctuary program—I was able to use the tools learned to create and cultivate healthy conversations with myself and others today. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the program. The Sanctuary program has been the foundation of hope which has helped me realize my Life’s great potential which if I am willing to participate—can be present and alive for. Life’s always in session and I feel today I am an active participant thanks to the Sanctuary Program. Today I believe in possibilities.”

—Sanctuary Client

“Sanctuary Centers has been life changing for our entire family. Just when we felt powerless we found your amazing program to help our son. It has given him the tools for a positive and healthy recovery. Your program should be the model for others to follow. We have renewed hope our son has a bright future ahead. He is back in school and making plans for his future. We are so very grateful. Thank you so much!”

—Parents of a Sanctuary client

“Sanctuary is the best thing that ever happened to me. I needed structure and people to open up to. All I used to do was cry, sleep, and do drugs every day. Now I am employed and teaching reading to 1st graders for my 5th straight year. I never thought I could be this happy.”

—a Sanctuary client

“The Sanctuary has provided stability, housing, and a continuous nurturing environment for our son. And most of all, it has given us hope."

—Parents of a Sanctuary client

“Sanctuary House was quite literally a lifesaver for our family. It provided our son with the social and therapeutic foundation that helped to set him on the path to recovery. Now a mature adult, happily married, and with his wife, restoring an 1890 Victorian home in Vallejo, CA, and serving on Vallejo’s General Plan Working Group (among other activist civic organizations), he is a wonderful example of the positive impact of the Sanctuary Program. We will always be grateful beyond words or measure.”

—Parents of a Sanctuary client

“I am a criminal defense attorney specializing in cases of mental health and substance abuse disorder. I am also a professional interventionist working with a severely affected population of dually diagnosed and often primary mental health challenged clients. I have worked with the Sanctuary clinical team and with its amazing clinical director Lisa Moshini on a number of very serious cases involving long-term mental health, addiction and other problems in living. I have been very impressed with the high quality of care, compassion and dedication they have for our mutual clients. Sanctuary's care advocacy for our clients with serious legal matters in the courts has been first rate and has been pivotal in motivating the client and in avoiding potentially lengthy jail time. Their work with both clients and their families is excellent, their costs are lower than any other comparable center and our outcomes have been across the board favorable. I recommend this program to anyone looking for real meaningful and lasting change.”

—Jeff M.

“Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara should be the psychiatry recovery model to follow. This amazing program has really helped our son get back on his feet and begin a life he is proud to be living. The experienced dedicated team of therapists, case managers, psychiatrists and counselors help to encourage, guide, mentor, assist and care for our loved ones dealing with their individual journey of recovery from mental illness. This well thought out program starts with basic living skills and helps guide you through volunteering, going back to school and finding a job. Ideals that had been put on hold and now can become a reality. We can't say enough good about Sanctuary because it has really given our son his life back and ours, too. We are more than grateful. If you, or anyone you know, is needing a residential mental health recovery program, Barry Schoer is your man. Please call and go visit his awesome program. You will be lucky you did! ”

—Lisa & Charlie, Parents of a Sanctuary Client

“I have a sibling who completed the Sanctuary's program and still lives in the apartments. I've also visited Sanctuary House several times, as well as the apartments. Recognizing that my perspective is that of an outsider looking in, and not having gone through the program myself (or having paid for it), I've been very happy with the treatment my sibling has received. While the program was far from easy for my sibling to complete, it would be an understatement to say that he is much better off for it. The personnel at Sanctuary were always friendly with me and responsive to my queries - they consistently had a good sense of what was going on with my sibling, gave the impression that they paid close attention to him, and had faith in him despite many setbacks he experienced as he was progressing - and at times regressing - through the program. Over the course of the past several years, I've been very happy with the Sanctuary and would highly recommend that family members of anyone with a serious mental illness, and who can afford the program, strongly consider it as an option for treatment.”

—J J., Family Member of a Sanctuary Client