Monday, January 4, 2010

Sue Scheff: Tips in Finding a Safe and Qualified Teen Help Programs and Schools

Did you miss part 1? Go back.

Have you reached your wit's end and now considering residential therapy for your teen? As mentioned in the previous article, you have most likely exhausted all your local resources and have now realized you need outside help, and more than the once a week therapy or daily out-patience programs.

This is a major decision and here are a few helpful hints when you have decided it is "time" for this step.

  • Beware of the Internet. Yes, it is an educational tool and has become our informational highway, but remember, there are few if any, regulations to what people can post online. Websites can be deceptive and not portray what they actually are. With this, I am certainly not saying to use the Internet, in many cases you have to. You just need to be aware of how marketing works and remember - the teen help industry is a business. Is your child for sale?

  • Use caution when dialing all these toll free numbers you are finding. You will be shocked to find many clearing houses for teen help programs and schools. I like to refer to these as "marketing arms" and in my opinion, and over 10 years of working in this field, parents need to use extreme caution. When you start dialing toll free numbers all over the country, it can be quite unsettling. Who are they really? Do they have the best interest of your child? Are they commissioned to "sell you" a program? Just ask - what are their credentials and their interests in your family.

  • Should you employ an Educational Consultant (EC)? That is a personal decision, however I have found that this is an extra $500.00-5000.00 expense that many parents don't realize they can do on their own. Do they really know your child? Who knows your child best? It is usually the parent. My personal issue is the what is called the EC shuffle. After interviewing many parents that paid for an Educational Consultant, the similarities were concerning. It seemed the were always recommended to the same route of recovery. Although I am not speaking for the EC's, I assume they have their reasons.

  • Talk to the Owner/Director or Therapist of any program you are considering. This is something many parents don't think about. The owner of the program has a vested interest in seeing your child succeed - their reputation depends on it. A marketing arm or sales representative is interested in their commission (in my opinion) so be sure to get to someone that will be accountability for your teens progress. Or in some cases, lack of progress, and you can contact them for some reasons why things are not working and what their plans are to improve their treatment plan.

  • Parent references. Always get at least 3 parents references from the programs you are considering. It is best to narrow it down to at least 2-3 programs. Ask for parents that have the same gender, age range and possibly from your own local area or at least state. As with many references, most will only give out good ones, so always ask the question to the parent reference: "If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?" Although it doesn't mean you would exclude the program, it helps you to go in with eyes wide open.

There are many more helpful hints both on Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc and in Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen. Learn the differences between Residential Treatment Centers (RTC), Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS), Emotional Growths Programs and more. Another hot topic is the pros and cons of Wilderness Programs. Do you really need them, are they worth the $10,000 - $20,000 for 6-8 weeks?

Being an educated parent will help you find the best school or program for your individual teen. This is a major decision, take the time to do your homework. Learn more from our story.

Did you miss part 1? Go back.

Watch video and slideshow - click here.