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What do Educational Consultants do for Families?
I wanted to provide my experience working with David Heckenlively over the last two years. I was referred to David by a Therapist who told me that I needed to explore some options for my 16 year old extremely depressed & anxious teen. We met with David for three months, investigating options such as Outdoor Therapeutic programs vs. keeping him at his current public high school with more support services. David has a very special way with teens, he relates to them in a way that doesn't ''feel'' like therapy. He gained my confidence after a few meetings, in his vast knowledge of troubled teens and various options available to help families of teens. I am not rich either (referring to another person's comment) but I knew that I had to do what was best for my son. I eventually made the decision to send my son to an Outdoor Therapeutic Program in Utah for kids with social and emotional challenges. It was a very difficult decision but I was concerned that if I didn't make a drastic change, my son might attempt suicide.
David Heckenlively was extremely supportive and provided guidance, strength and support during the entire process. During this time, my son was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome with severe anxiety and depression. Per David's recommendation, after three months at an Outdoor Therapeutic program my son was moved to a Therapeutic Boarding School specializing in teens with Asperger's syndrome (executive functioning, social and memory challenges) .
I have also attended the Parent Support Group which David facilitates and he has many families from all over California who depend on his service, support and guidance. I feel so strongly about David and his ability to provide guidance to troubled teens of which he has dedicated his life, that I have referred my sister to utilize his services for her troubled teenage daughter.
I look at David's role as a parent and teen advocate who has the capacity to guide families through the challenges of the teen years with options / solutions. He travels all over the Western United States keeping in contact with Therapeutic programs so he is current in his knowledge.
I am a single mother, and the costs of these programs is expensive. I had to use my 401K funds to pay for them, but in retrospect, my son is worth every penny. My son has benefited enormously from these experiences; in fact, he is coming home at the end of May, If you find that you have explored all options and you don't know what to do with your struggling teen, and you need support and guidance for academic, therapeutic, addiction, and/or dangerous behaviors, David may have a solution for you -- Check him out: http://www.integratedteen.com/ Mom of Aspie who needed help
We were referrred to David Heckenlively for educational consultation when my son was expelled from a small, private high school in his senior year. David is a nice, friendly person with one thing to offer; a recommendation to a wilderness program priced upwards of $45,000. His fee for this service is a cool $250.00 an hour, in the form of a $3,000 retainer. He promised (verbally; the written contract was very basic and did not spell any of this out), to give us a written account of his time spent consulting the various professionals who have worked with our son. He knows the details of these different programs, and is able to get troubled teens into these programs very quickly. He describes them as a ''vision quest'', personal growth for confused teens. His friendly, relaxed demeanor is reassuring to parents in crisis, and we were excited about the possibilities. He suggested he could get us an adjustment since we are not rich, and we left, dazzled with the idea of 3 months off parenting and a transformed child on return. He called us quickly with a reduced price on a program. It was still in the neighborhood of $35,000.
Once we decided that this was not an option we wanted to pursue, David had nothing else to suggest. We asked for a refund of money left unused of the $3,000 retainer. He offered to continue to see our son as a ''mentor'', to use up the rest of the retainer, at some unspecified cheaper rate( than 250.00 an hour).
Ultimately, he met once more with our son, and cancelled several other appointments. We never received a written account of who he consulted with, and for how long. He never responded to my 2nd request for a refund. In our opinion, he is a one trick pony. If you are wealthy and desperate, he can get your child quickly into a residential treatment program, where they will meet lots of other rich kids who identify with their diagnoses and are looking for new buddies to party with. That's all he has to offer. We sent our son back to public school, where he was placed in what has turned out to be a wonderful, individualized, supportive continuation program. He is receiving high grades, is on track to graduate this spring, and is already receiving college counseling through his school. We are very happy with our decision and our son's progress. I sure do miss that $3,000 we handed over to David Heckenlively. It could help pay for Senior Ball and Grad Nite. EB mom
Our 20 year old daughter has had a serious problem for the last 4 years with with anxiety, depression and marijuana addiction. We've tried therapy, medication, outpatient rehab and one inpatient rehab. We've tried tried being flexible and we've tried tough love (kicking her out of the house). Nothing has worked. She is not willing to quit using marijuana, and it's very clear to us that her marijuana usage makes her depression and anxiety much worse. Our daughter's therapist has recommended that we speak to a local educational consultant about a possible longer-term placement for our daughter. Honestly, even though I really like and trust my daughter's therapist, I am very leery of hiring an educational consultant. I'm afraid they're all in bed with the wilderness camps and schools that they recommend and that it's an industry that preys on families in crisis. Am I being overly paranoid? Anecdotally, I keep hearing about people who have spent a fortune with ed consultants without good results. I would really appreciate some feedback from people who have gone this route, either confirming my fears or telling me that your family did it and it really did help your child. Of course I realize that my daughter has to be ready to make a change in her life for it to work- I'm just trying to figure out if I should be working with a consultant so that if and when she's ready for help we have the right help to offer her. Thanks in advance. worried
If your daughter is 20, unless she's a harm to herself or others, she will need to agree to go to any program an ed. consultant might suggest. People have to want to change. Bottom line. If you do decide to talk with an ed. consultant I can highly recommend David Heckenlively in Walnut Creek. He is compassionate and truly cares about the whole family and not in it for the big bucks. He knows the programs well, including the ones for young adults. He also runs a parent support group which is so important. his number is 925-681-1700.
Good luck. Take good care of yourself. Been there
None of these programs work miracles, and they require a certain amount of buy-in from the children themselves (even for younger teens who enter them against their will). Our children are individuals with free will, and some of them have developed incredibly strong defenses against changing their behavior or facing their innermost problems.
At 20 years old, there is very little you can do without her consent and agreement. Even if you get her to reluctantly agree to something, I would worry that if she is not really committed to changing, the impact could be only temporary. If she is still working with a therapist, that is a good sign, but it sounds as if it might be time for you to disengage a little and let her make her own choices, as painful as that might be.
I hope you have someone you can talk to who is supporting you in this situation. Good luck to you. learning to accept my limits
Hopefully parents with older children will answer you with their experiences. I am happy to share with you who I would not recommend and other consultants friends have had good luck with.
For wilderness, we went with Second Nature and did not use an Ed consultant. Second Nature was wonderful, and I highly recommend their program. It was recommended to us by several parents. Good luck! It's a very difficult and painful process. Mom of a 16 YO girl
We recently went through the craziness of choosing a school for our son who will enter kindergarten in the fall, so I feel your pain! While I can't speak specifically to the Albany choices, I recommend you contact Theresa Lozach. She is an educational consultant. I first talked with her by phone and then met with her in person, and both interactions were all I hoped they would be. We were struggling with the many schools, the many things to consider, the many ways of looking at what's right for our child, and she brought us such calm and clarity. She really helped us sort out the facts and our feelings and guided us in choosing a school that matches both our goals and our son's personality and needs. She has many years of experience, so much passion for her work, loads of useful information, and best of all a real understanding of what it's like to be in this process! Check out her blog (http://beyondqualityco...) and give her a call. You'll be glad you did! Happy Parent
We need some guidance and help with looking at high schools. It is so overwhelming. Can you recommend someone to help us. Have you ever heard of Gail Berland or Amanda Mallory? Please send your recommendations. thanks! Middle School Mom
My daughter who will be 16 in December is in her sophomore year at Acalanes. She hates school there mostly doesn't relate to the student body of kids especially not much diversity there. She has always struggled in school and now has gotten into drugs. She has gone to raves and done ''E'', smokes weed, took my rx drugs, ambien, ativan and got into vodka/rum and got really drunk and sick. Drugs and alcohol gone from my place, but friends have it. There is nothing current on this site as far as residential treatment centers and if there are any good ones. I've read a lot of dangers of the places especially in Utah and how awful they are to the kids. Need current info on RTC's and Boarding schools that might be good for her. She will spend a day at Holden High School in Orinda to see how she likes it, but what about after school and keeping her from doing crazy stuff. I'm worried sick and need help asap. She lives with me half the time and now doesn't want to go to her dad's cause he just gets angry and that doesn't help. Also does anyone have names of good teen therapists in the area (Walnut Creek,Lafay, Orinda) or Berkeley (dad lives there). Also an education person to help with placement at a school. Nothing current again on this site. Thank you so much!!!! desparate single mom of teen
David Heckenlively has offices in Walnut Creek and Mill Valley his website is integratedteen.com It has contact info and info on his services
Molly Baron is at McClure, Mallory, Baron and Ross in San Francisco. Their website is mmbedu.com
Jennie Heckman is in Palo Alto. Her telephone number is 650-941-4662 If you Google Jennie Heckman it will take you to a site called Caring 4 Youth which has more information about her and what she does.
Vania Matheus has her own website vmatheus.com She works throughout the Bay Area
Also please call me or email me. Those of us involved at the Director level in Willows have each had a teen go through the wilderness, therapeutic boarding school process. There was no help when we did it, and we don't want people like you to struggle the way we did. There is no charge for talking with us on the phone or attending our meetings or emailing us. Robin Sacks firstname.lastname@example.org 650-996-0897
There are hundreds of therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers, many in states far away and really the best way to find the right one for your daughter is to work with an educational consultant. Our family worked with David Heckenlively and he has been great. He has a background as a therapist and has years of experience working with teens. (www.integratedteen.com)
He will probably recommend that your daughter go first to a wilderness program. The one our daughter went to is called Open Sky. This is not a punitive, boot camp program. It is extremely nurturing and caring, with staff that are trained in how to deal with troubled teens, and extremely talented therapists.
No good program should ever be harmful or dangerous. Safety and health should be primary concerns of any wilderness program or boarding school you consider. Ask lots of questions about this if you are concerned. I thought these programs were somewhat unregulated and could therefore do whatever they wanted, but actually they are highly regulated and good ones adhere to really high standards of care.
That being said, these programs can be tough. Teens in wilderness therapy live outdoors for weeks, hiking, camping, building their own shelters, cooking their food, etc. But these programs have a remarkable impact on teens, by interrupting their dangerous and destructive behaviors and making them realize the impact of what they have been doing.
Boarding schools are not as physically demanding, but do impose lots of restrictions and rules, and as a parent, you have to be comfortable with those rules and agree to the restrictions or the program will not be as successful. A good school (and wilderness program) will demand a lot of you as a parent, in terms of communication, participating in therapy, etc.
While it is a relief to have a child in a safe place, making progress in school and emotional growth, parenting long distance is emotionally exhausting and it is a long hard journey for everyone involved.
These programs are also extraordinarily expensive; our retirement savings are going toward the boarding school tuition. But in return we have gotten our daughter back and that is worth any amount of money.
Good luck to you. Been there
What about rehab? The only one I know locally is Thunder Road which is part of Alta Bates. We had a good experience there. If you have Kaiser, check with them.
I can highly recommend Second Nature Wilderness Program. They have sites in Utah and Oregon at least. My 15 year old daughter went there this past summer and absolutely loved it and got a tremendous amount out of it. I can't say she's home and sober now, because she is in a residential treatment center (in Utah, they're not all bad), but many RTCs won't take your child unless they have first been to Wilderness Therapy. Or so I was told. If you're serious about taking the RTC or Therapeutic Boarding school approach, you should get an educational consultant like Bodin or David Heckenlively. mom of another troubled teen
We recently used the services of Bob Casanova (707-526-5800), a therapeutic/special needs placement counselor with McClure, Mallory and Baron. Bob is one of two counselors who find treatment programs away from home for "at risk youth." While various people in our lives recommended we look into having our 14 year old very depressed daughter go to a therapeutic boarding school, we kept trying to solve things here at home with counseling, medication, consequences, and then a day program at John Muir Hospital.
Unfortunately that was not enough, and after residential treatment only available for a month and one-half through insurance, it was clear that coming home was not yet a good option. We were very lucky to see a flyer about a talk Bob was giving in Santa Rosa. Although we live in the East Bay, and Bob is based in Santa Rosa, he quickly started to work to find us the next step for our daughter. As with other educational consultants, he has visited many of these places, and has professional relationships with the owners who trust his judgement about who would fit in and benefit from their program. We also wanted to find a place where our daughter would be able to continue developing her creative talents. He honed down 15 possibilities to 5, and recommended we visit all five. We actually only needed to visit the one that appealed to us the most for us to realize it would be a great place for our daughter. All this he did under emergency circumstances for a very reasonable cost, in comparison with other consultants we knew about.
Bob has followed up with us to be sure things are working out, and we are very happy that our daughter is at a special place where she can overcome her depression and accompanying trauma. Bob's clinical background enabled him to do the necessary homework about our daughter's issues. He was realistic and straightforward in evaluating our situation so that he could get us through this tough time quickly and successfully. We feel incredibly lucky we found Bob to help us.
We also recommend a book that was very helpful in understanding what this situation is all about. It's titled ''What Now: How Teen Therapeutic Programs Could Save Your Troubled Child'' by Dr. Paul Case. S.
We need experienced suggestions for a resource that can suggest a specialized middle/high school for a troubled pre-teen. Molly Barron of MacClure, Mallory and Baron in SF has been recommended. We would welcome hearing of anyone's experience with her, or other local suggestions of placement experts or schools. My son is 12, in the 7th grade and has had recent issues with thievery, skipping school and being disrespectful to his teachers. Thank you in advance for your counsel. A Worried Mom
Have you tried individual therapy for your son, or family therapy? Coyote Coast in Orinda can be an excellent resource for helping families deal with difficult teens through family therapy, mentors, and peer groups. Good luck! anon
I am looking for experienced suggestions for a consultant who can suggest a specialized (maybe residential) middle/high school for a troubled pre-teen. Molly Barron of MacClure, Mallory and Barron in SF has been recommended to me. I'd like to hear of anyone's experience with that firm or others with the same expertise. Also, any suggestions for a specialized school in the Bay Area. My son is 12 and in 7th grade. His current issues include thievery, skipping school and disrespectful behavior at school. Thank you for any counsel you can offer. Worried Mom
Re: School for 15-y-o who may have mild Aspergers
Nancy Chin is very good with children and teens who have asperger. She has done wonders with a child that my son went to elementary and middle school with. This boy who really had few social skills and had trouble fitting in is now a happy, motivated high school student. I highly recommend you call her at 925-299-1069. http://www.stepbystep4success.com/ Nancy-Can-Help
There are also directories of boarding schools. You can find something that sounds interesting and then research on your own. Some of the families at my child's boarding school found it that way. Schools will provide references. I got names of several current and past parents and called them all. Good luck. anon
When we told him he'd be schooled at home as long as it took to find the right school -- home study wasn't a permanent solution -- he became more cooperative and optimistic than we expected. Being in a supportive, structured residential situation was a big relief to him. Success, academic and social, turned things around. It was a very hard decision to send him away, but our relationship became so much better! But it was very expensive, and it's nearly impossible to get funding through a school district. Another problem with going away, is that we didn't have continued support when he returned -- but he left because we didn't have it here to begin with.
Re: Wilderness program for angry, defiant 14-year-old
I did use the Bodin Group as consultants to help me find a program for my young adult and am pretty pleased with them though they charge a lot for what they provide... best wishes
We need someone to help us. Our son is in first grade in a bilingual school (this is his 4th year, has been there since pre-K). While his language acquisition is great, it is becoming clear to us that the school's learning approach is not a good match for our son. He is very interested in science and hands on work (a kinesthetic learner), and the emphasis in the program is on language acquisition and verbal engagement (auditory learning). We are considering moving him to a different school -- but the thought of navigating the search for private schools in Oakland is extremely daunting. We were hoping that we could get a recommendation for an education consultant -- someone who really knows about learning and Oakland schools -- who could help us pinpoint the private schools that might be the best fit for our son. Any recommendations would be much appreciated! Help us find a school for our hands on learner!
Re: Feedback on Wilderness and RTC
In 2001, my 15 yr old who was spiraling down terribly. I also went to the Bodin group. A therapeutic wilderness program was recommended for my dd, Second Nature. They also recommended a therapeutic boarding school.
Please reconsider. Second Nature worked well for my daughter d emotionally. I asked lots of detailed questions and still did not knnow the harsh conditions. Her diet was restricted to beans and water until she earned the privilege to eat more. She slept on the ground in the snow of the Utah mountains. All she had was a tarp, no tent. My girl was signficantly injured in the program. The program was described as gentle; it was not.questions, but still I did not know what the conditions would be. Caveat Emptor with these programs.
My biggest mistake was sending my daughter away after Second Nature. Many of these therapeutic programs are very behaviorally based. The staff is often poorly trained. The therapists typically are right out of school; they stay one year to be licensed and leave.The staff psychiatrist overmedicated the kids. My daughter received 3X the maximum dosage allow of her medication. My daughter was emotionally harmed by staff and victimized by older boys in the program. I found that Bodin was in bed with the program. When it came to protecting my daughter,they did not act to do so.
This was my direct experience with my own child. Please be careful. Before taking such a drastic step, I recommend consulting with a therapist in Albany, Terry Trotter. She is amazing.
Re: Residential treatment for RAD ADHD Oppositional Behavior
Call Virginia Keeler-Wolf in Oakland. She is one of a group of therapists who are specifically trained to work with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). There are only a few such therapists in the Bay Area. She is also knowledgeable about residential treatment. A friend worked with her and his son was successfully place in residential for over a year and is now ready to come home. Our family worked with her for several years, and she is very insightful and knowlegeable. One of her partners, Laura Soble, has worked in equine therapy. Mom
I need to find an educational consultant who has a lot of experience with kids on the autistic spectrum. This child is 10 years old and kind, friendly, verbal, and never in trouble. He's at public school and struggling even with some special help academically (which will disappear because of budget cuts). He does not need a lot of testing. We want someone who can help figure out a good school placement for him. He would benefit from focused and supportive academics. He needs some directed social encouragement as well. Parents don't have a lot of money. Somebody who has worked with school districts before would be helpful, because we might have to get their help. It would be great to have the advice from a parent of a mildly-autistic or ASD child who's been through this before. Thanks!
I've been lucky to have been able to spend a lot of time with him the last two years. He is a wonderful child, very intelligent, but he abhors school, and anything thing else he feels forced to do. I am starting a website at http://EinsteinsClubhouse.org about these issues. I have also filed articles of incorporation with the state for a non-profit of the same name to develop educational strategies to help ASD kids and their parents cope.
I am not a educator by profession. I am a builder, a carpenter and web designer mostly. I can't offer any specific service, but I would greatly appreciate talking to you and trading stories, etc. I have been to the county Family Resource Network, and they can't help because son is not severely afflicted. It's that way with other schools and so on too.
Please get back to me if you want to get together and talk. John L.
Re: Boot camp for 19 year old?
You might consider engaging the services of an educational consultation who specializes in such placements, as they are often able to sort through the variety of programs to match the specific needs of your child. The Bodin Group (925- 283-9100) is one such resource. They have an enormous amount of experience in these matters. Good luck. Andrew
I have used your site and love it. I'm in Mill Valley trying to find a therapeutic boarding school for my talented, difficult, bipolar 15 year old who goes to school only 50% of the time. School has threatened me with SARB. My daughter has a history of poor attendance as she's tired, depressed even with the meds that have been changed extensively. Does not do well with theraist and she's had many. I'm thinking that expressive arts or a teen group might be better and am looking. It's hard to get her to transition to any place expect being with friends. She's attending AA on her own because of drug and alcohol issues in the past and is on probation with a very skilled probation officer, but that almost over and I'm scared. Tough behavior mod as a motivator partially successful,but tends to lock her into fight mode. She responds better to structure, love, clear consequences, one to one (executive function issues along with working memory problems) and community.
In the process of therapeutic school placement with IEP but don't expect much.Searched your site and read horrific and wonderful stories of placement concluding I need an ed. Consultant and Molly Baron might be good? Also, does anyone have an attorney which I expect to need, but finances are hard as a single parent. Exhaused and not able to work away from home very much, she needs extensive supervision. Joyce
We also used a lawyer whom I highly recommend. He specializes in representing families of special needs children. His name is Mike Zatopa and his email is email@example.com anon
We would like to move our energetic third-grader to private school, and are searching for a consultant who can help advise us. Any recommendations? DC
Re: Chronically truant 17-year-old smoking weed, won't come home
I'm so sorry to hear your son is struggling, and my heart goes out to you. I recommend the Bodin group www.thebodingroup.com, because they refer to a wide range of settings, and they're also skilled interventionists. Of course there is a cost to their services, but, without them, you're handling all this on your own with little confidence that you've made the right decision. Bodin works with you to select a setting, and monitors your kid's progress. They periodically visit every boarding school and therapeutic program, and they know the staff personally. They've been working with my son and our family for over a year now, and we appreciate their expertise and support. I commend you for deciding to intervene now - we hung on far too long and intervened way too late. I was in same place years ago
Re: Good boarding school for totally out of control teen
When we needed to send our son away, we had no idea where to start. There must be thousands of boarding schools and programs out there. Some are definitely better than others, and some are better for particular kids.
Fortunately [well, it did NOT seem so fortunate at the time], we tried and my son flunked a local rehab program, and the psychiatrist there referred us to an educational consultant, Bodin Associates [in Lafayette and Los Altos]. They were able to recommend a therapeutic wilderness program and then a boarding school, both really right for our son.
We really needed the support, the assurance that these folks had visited and knew the places they suggested, a reasonable number of safe places to look at [they suggested 8 places, and we discussed 3 more we heard about], and the practical input they had at certain points. I can't imagine how to approach finding a boarding school without some kind of guidance like this. It would be a total crap shoot.
The internet is cool, but -- too many choices, too little info relevant to a particular kid or a particular place.
There was a time the cost of the consultant would have knocked me over, but [a] that is nothing compared to the cost of a boarding school, and [b] much more importantly, our son ended up where he needed to be, and is doing well after 14 months, and he has been safe and supported and challenged -- and also, at his particular school, he got sober plus had fun. And he's graduating next month!
Best to families in this situation.
Re: Need info about out-of-state residential treatment programs
This is a tough situation. There are a number of schools with excellent reputations, and a number that are run by absolute charlatans, so my advice, having had a very difficult/high-risk behavior teenager, is to hire the services of an educational consultant. It's their business to know which schools are okay and which should be avoided or have had serious problems. It's not cheap, but making the wrong decision about an emotional growth school creates more problems than it solves. I can strongly recommend the services of Elizabeth McGhee at Virginia Reiss Associates in Larkspur (980 Magnolia Drive/Suite 8, Larkspur, CA 94939/phone is 415-461-4788). Anyone in that office would be okay to work with.
Re: Residential school for teen with emotional problems
I have worked with two ed consultants and would be happy to discuss my experience. I think it's important to have a good psychological evaluation of your child done before trying to select a placement. Until you know exactly what the issues are it's hard to select a place that can address them. -A mom who's had similar challenges
There are a number of good ones in the bay area, and we used Molly Baron at McClure, Mallory & Baron in San Francisco, who was very helpful. She combined her own evaluation with tests and evaluations from other professionals to help us make the appropriate choices. She also met with us while our son was in the program to help us evaluate his progress and future needs. Good luck to you and your son. anonymous
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