Friday, May 11, 2012

Teen Help Programs: The Search

Tips for Searching for the Right Teen Help Program for My Child:

My story is a cautionary tale that I always hope parents can learn from.

I always tell parents to be cautious of the hundreds of toll free numbers and websites they find online that lead to marketing arms.  These marketing arms are not always in the best interest of your child.  It is always best to try to find a program or school that you can talk directly to the owner or director - someone who will be responsible for your child and accountable for their progress from the day they arrive to the day they finish.

With this - you are also speaking with someone that is only going to want to accept a student that they feel they can help - since their reputation will reflect their success with your child.  Whereas with a marketing arm, in many cases, they will get their commission and you will not hear from them again and they have nothing vested.

Another falsity I see many parents fall for is the misconception that all students need a Wilderness program to break them down prior entering a residential therapeutic program. 

This can not only be an expensive first step, it can also be an extra step that your teen has to complete and then start all over with a new set of therapists and school.  What I find more upsetting is some Wilderness programs won't say that most kids go on to longer term programs - so parents go into these short term programs thinking that 6-9 weeks will resolve issues that have been going on for a few years.  In my opinion, it is only a band-aid that quickly falls off if you are not able to go on to the next step.

If you sit back and truly think about it - why don't you just start at a residential therapeutic boarding school to begin with?  Why add an additional $15K-20K glorified camping trip?  They say to break your child down - however, isn't your child already broken down?  If you can find a solid 6-9-12 month program this should accommodate what you would get from doing your Wilderness.

I encourage parents to look for what I consider the ACE factor:

A=Academic's - Be sure the program is accredited academically
C=Clinical  - Be sure they have qualified therapist
E=Enrichment Programs - Be sure they offer enrichment program to stimulate your teen in a positive direction (ie: sports, music, culinary, fine arts, etc... it doesn't have to be all of them, but something to help boost their self esteem).

Visit me on for a free consultation and more helpful hints and tips for finding quality programs.

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