• Anne Hedelius

What is a Therapeutic Consultant?

The term harkens back to the early days of specialized boarding and day school placements in traditional prep schools and elite colleges. Education Consultants worked with families to help prepare students to secure enrollment in prestigious institutions, as well as to usher students through the college or graduate school application and decision process.  In fact, Education Consultants still work exclusively in this field. Some Education Consultants, many of whom branched out from this initial tree, have developed a unique subset of Education Consulting, and they are often referred to as Therapeutic Consultants, Behavioral Health Consultants, or Clinical Interventionists.

Depending on the scope of this person’s practice, she or he may focus on specialized group home placements, adolescent intervention and treatment facilities, young adult programs, autism, developmental disabilities, other specialized areas, or any combination of the above. It is of paramount importance that therapeutic consultants are independent of the schools and programs they refer to, to prevent ethical conflicts.  Their job is to help families investigate, evaluate, and engage with the best wrap-around services, in home placement options, day treatment options, or residential options that are available.

This is accomplished through interviews, assessment and investigation of the family dynamics and the programs’, corroborating research, and then based on their findings, they help families narrow down and understand the bank of options which exist.  Choosing to work with an experienced therapeutic consultant can increase a families’ precision in determining an appropriate level of care and services and can mitigate the potential for treatment failures, which can not only build treatment resistance but also result in mis-allocated resources (including time and money). The key is supporting the decision process and then supporting the family through the assessment and treatment process.

Choosing to secure the services of a Therapeutic Consultant is much like that of choosing a therapist or a doctor.  The processes these professionals help navigate can be highly emotional and anxiety-provoking, and the therapeutic consultant will likely become a key stakeholder in the selection, placement, and ongoing treatment, of your son or daughter. Therapeutic consultants partner with a family and serve as a resource, a sounding board, and an advocate for your needs and the needs of your child, both while your child is enrolled in a program, and beyond.  For this same reason, programs generally encourage family’s employment of a therapeutic consultant because the therapeutic expert provides confidence and perspective that would otherwise require precious weeks to generate between program and parents.

Lastly, Therapeutic Consultants are well informed about a wide variety of services, programs, after-care supports, and post-treatment placements, and many have the ability to track a client and family through various levels of care. It is not uncommon for much of this work to be done remotely, and each therapeutic consultant has his/her own model for supporting families, either in person, electronically, or over the phone.  Some treatment programs require a therapeutic consultant to usher a parent through the placement process to support the family and lend context to the family when the treatment struggles and bumps to the process inevitably come about.  Just as there are many avenues to success, there are many styles of supporting a family, and building your own bank of knowledge, while also utilizing the support of a therapeutic consultant, is one proven path toward finding, and getting the most out of, a therapeutic placement.

Condensed from blog by: Jake Weld holds a masters degree in education and has over twenty years of experience in traditional, LD, and therapeutic schools, adolescent and young adult programs, and conventional, wilderness, and residential settings. He has served as the Executive Director of a therapeutic boarding school, the Assistant Headmaster of a specialized LD boarding school, and as the Academic and Program Director of various schools and programs.  He is currently the Director of Admissions and Business Development for Mansfield Hall, a specialized college support program in Burlington, VT, and Madison, WI.

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