TroubledTeenHelp.com Frequently Asked Questions

These questions were complied from speaking with families who have been in crisis and needed information. This page will be updated as we receive more questions and also from any suggestions you may have as a visitor to this site.

How do I find a skilled counselor / therapist for my teen?2019-03-28T16:07:52-06:00

A skilled counselor / therapist can support and help your teen deal with the challenges and problems they are having. There are a variety of counselors and therapists who work with teens so it’s helpful to know what to look for in finding the best fit for your troubled teen. Here are essential questions to ask in choosing a counselor / therapist to help your teen.

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Are you a member of a professional organization?
  • What experience do you have with the particular problem my teen is struggling with?
  • What license do you have and is it current?
  • Describe how you will work with my teen.
  • Will other family members be involved in the therapy process?
  • How do you establish goals for therapy and measure progress?
  • Please you explain the therapy approach you use.

After getting answers to these questions, consider how well the therapist has described their approach and how they come across in doing so. Ideally, your teen needs to be part of this process, even when you are the one insisting they participate in therapy.

How long does an addiction treatment program last?2019-03-24T19:12:57-06:00

The duration of any kind of addiction treatment is dependent upon the condition of the client, the type of addiction they are suffering from, and the severity of the effects of substance abuse. The treatment can be an outpatient treatment program or an inpatient one. When it’s the latter, the treatment can last as short as 28 days or as long as 120 days to a year. After graduating from rehab, there are also aftercare programs offered to help the client keep their sobriety. These aftercare services will vary depending on the treatment facility and on the needs of the client.

What is an educational consultant?2018-03-16T14:27:45-06:00

An educational consultant is an independent consultant who helps family members/parents/students and organizations with educational planning.

The Higher Education Consultants are focused almost exclusively on the practice of college admissions consulting. Independent Educational Consultants, also known as therapeutic consultants, are more focused on assisting families and students with specialties that include adoption/ attachment challenges, behavior concerns, clinical needs, college admission, day and college prep boarding schools, at-risk student situations, eating disorder needs, and learning disabilities.

Some educational consultants work with both American students and students from other countries who are interested in coming to the United States.

A huge number of educational consultants are based in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America.

While some educational consultants are generalists, many specialize in assisting particular kinds of students or particular educational needs.

For example, some consultants focus exclusively on assisting students with college planning and admissions, some on students seeking a private secondary school, and yet others specialize in students who are learning disabled or have behavioral/emotional difficulties.

Other consultants provide advising services for college students seeking admission to graduate school.

Some educational consultants work to assist high schools and other organizations with educational program planning. Fees for consulting services vary widely.

There are consultants that charge an hourly fee, while others offer an “all inclusive” package that may include unlimited hours of service.

Some consultants offer a sliding scale based on family income, or offer pro bono services to low income families and students.

Families considering hiring an educational consultant should carefully assess the qualifications and experience of individual consultants.

Consultants should be clear about their fees, counseling process, educational philosophy, and expectations at the beginning of the relationship.

In the United States, educational consultants are not bound by any particular statutory rules for practitioners. Always ask for references and ask which associations and trainings they have engaged in during their years in practice. 


How can an educational consultant assist me?2018-03-16T14:27:59-06:00

A lot of family members, grandparents and parents speak with friends, neighbors and even those they work with, who have also had concerning challenges with their child, adolescent or young adult.

You can spend a lot of time endlessly researching / searching on the Internet looking for clinical treatment, programs, schools and wilderness programs that can help your adolescent, teen or young adult. Ultimately, you may come to realize that there are thousands of clinical treatment centers, programs, schools and wilderness programs and there is an enormity of different options. Sorting out all the  different options is aggravating, frustrating and very time consuming.

Educational Consultants provide assistance with their professional, experienced knowledge and objectivity to help formulate a placement decision during a time that is already confusing, emotionally exhausting  and stressful for any family member or parent.

Educational Consultants visit many different clinical treatment centers, programs, schools and wilderness programs on a regular basis and have access to first hand knowledge that you may not even see on a website.

Since educational consultants have extensive first hand personal knowledge of a wide variety of clinical treatment centers, programs, schools and wilderness programs, they know the important criteria and common mistakes to avoid when making recommendations for placement. Educational Consultants utilize this knowledge and experience when helping family members and parents to carefully develop a strategy to intervene with their struggling child, teen or young adult.

These speciality programs, schools and wilderness programs can be very expensive. An educational consultant who is competent and professionally experienced can increase the odds that the first choice of a clinical treatment center, program,  school or wilderness program, will be the best and right choice, helping to avoid additional failures for the child, adolescent or young adult. Parents who work with professional and qualified educational consultants thus reduce the possibility of losing time and money as a result of an inappropriate placement.

What is an Interventionist?2018-03-16T14:28:09-06:00

Many families struggle on their own when someone they love has developed an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, the Internet, or sex. They may be ashamed or just think they can fix it on their own.

Often, the addicted person is simply too determined to continue their addictive behaviors and will make false promises, outright lie, and manipulate, in order to stay connected to their addiction. 

One way the addict is able to keep their addiction going is to compartmentalize different family members. Everyone does not know everything. Addicts become experts at figuring out what they can get from each person, and just how far they can push things. Even when most of the family members are pushing the addict to get help, all you need is one person giving the addict comfort and money to undermine this pressure. Most people contact a professional Interventionist when they have attempted multiple times on their own to get a loved one into treatment, yet have failed. They feel exhausted and demoralized, and they don’t want to give up on them. They contact an Intervention Specialist because they hope that an outsider can find the key to getting through to the addict.

What To Look For In An Interventionist

Just about anyone can call themselves an interventionist these days, so it’s important to look for a Professional, Board-Certified Interventionist. These are people who have gone the extra mile to really learn about how to work with families and addicts, and how to avoid making things worse.

Steps Of An Intervention

The professional Interventionist will first meet with family members and do what’s called a pre-intervention. During these interviews the Interventionist will figure out who plays what role in the addict’s life.

The goal of this process is to get all family members on the same page, avert any chances of someone sabotaging the intervention, and making sure everyone is willing to stop supporting the addiction and start supporting recovery. The Interventionist will then plan the day of the actual event. It is usually not as dramatic as it might be portrayed on TV. Many addicts immediately feel the pressure when the whole family is together because they can’t divide and conquer by saying one thing to one person and something else to another. It is important to have a professional guide the intervention. Why?

Because family members are too compromised by years of dealing with the addict. They are too easily manipulated and can end up making the addict even more defiant. The goal of the event of Intervention is to get that person to agree to treatment in that moment, and very shortly after the event, actually go to treatment. No more excuses, no more delays.

When you are interested in an intervention, visit the Association of Intervention Associates to learn about certification and how to find a responsible, well-trained Interventionist. Research suggests that up to 90% of interventions succeed at getting the person into treatment.

Association of Interventionists

The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) is a network of interventionists located throughout the country and abroad.

All full members are Certified Intervention Professionals, thereby meeting or exceeding educational and performance standards.

All members adhere to the AIS Code of Ethics. Contact an Interventionist and let them guide you through the process.

Are all Residential Treatment Centers (RTC) Licensed?2018-03-16T14:28:18-06:00

Private residential treatment programs for children, adolescents and teens offer a range of services, including adoption / attachment support, clinical support, confidence building, alcohol treatment, eating disorder support, family support, learning challenge and academic support, and psychological counseling for a variety of addiction, behavioral, emotional and mental health challenges. Many of these programs are intended to provide a less-restrictive alternative to incarceration or hospitalization, or an intervention for a troubled young person.

When you are a parent or guardian and think you have exhausted intervention alternatives for a troubled child or teen, you may be considering a private residential treatment program. These programs go by a variety of names, including “therapeutic boarding schools,” “emotional growth academies,” “teen boot camps,” “behavior modification facilities,” and “wilderness therapy programs.”

The programs are not regulated by the federal government, and many are not subject to state licensing or monitoring as mental health or educational facilities.

Many programs advertise on the Internet and through other social media, making claims about staff credentials, success rates, the level of treatment a participant will receive, program accreditation, education credit transfers, and endorsements by professionals.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, cautions that before you enroll an adolescent in a private residential treatment program:

  • are you licensed?
  • ask for proof or support for claims about staff credentials, program accreditation, and endorsements
  • ask specific questions
  • check it out online
  • do an on site visit
  • get all policies and promises in writing

Should the program be unlicensed and you still want to consider it, contact the State Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, and the local consumer protection office where the program is located.

Regardless of whether a program is licensed, when contacting any of these groups:

  • Ask for copies of all publicly available information, including any complaints or actions filed against the program, site visit evaluations, violations, and corrective actions.
  • Pay particular attention to any reports of unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, nutritionally compromised diets, exposure to extreme environmental conditions or extreme physical exertion, inadequate staff supervision or a low ratio of staff to residents, medical neglect, physical or sexual abuse of youth by program staff or other residents, and any violation of youth or family rights.

Several independent nonprofit organizations, like the Joint Commission (JACHO), the Council on Accreditation (COA), and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), accredit mental health programs and providers.

  • CARF International is an independent accreditor of human services providers in areas including behavioral health, child and youth services, and employment and community services.
  • COA is an international child- and family-service and behavioral healthcare organization that accredits 38 different service areas, including substance abuse treatment, and more than 60 types of programs.
  • JACHO accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S.

The organizations above grant accreditation and certification after evaluating the quality of services provided by a treatment program.

Among the sources of information for families researching private residential treatment programs for troubled youngsters are:

What does a young adult coach help with?2019-03-28T16:24:10-06:00

Young adults today are a unique and diverse cohort of college grads and 20-30 somethings. On one end of the spectrum are the overachievers who expect a C-suite job offer straight after graduation. On the other end are the confused and multi-passionate procrastinators who wind up back home, in their childhood bedroom, with nothing to do. Wherever your young adult falls on the spectrum, the 20’s – 30’s are a critical developmental phase for making a successful transition from dependent college kid to flourishing adult.

  • Anxiety and Resilience
  • Budgeting and Finances
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Family Conflict
  • Future Direction and Career Path
  • Independence and Individuation
  • Passion and Purpose
  • Positive Relationships: Friends, Family
What is a residential treatment center (RTC)?2018-03-16T14:28:27-06:00

A residential treatment center (RTC) is a live-in health care facility / program / school that provides therapy for academic problems, ADD/ADHD, anger management issues, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, family conflict, lack of boundaries, low self-esteem, peer conflict, and poor impulse control in combination with other concerns.

Residential treatment may be considered one of the best approaches to treating abnormal psychology or psychopathology.

What is a speciality psychiatric and behavioral hospital?2018-03-16T14:28:37-06:00

Speciality psychiatric behavior hospitals are inpatient psychiatric hospitals who are dedicated to treating individuals with complex mental illness, including severe addictive, anxiety, mood, and personality disorders.

There are adolescent treatment programs and young adult treatment programs. There are programs for adults with complex psychiatric issues that have hindered their capacity to meet important personal, vocational, and interpersonal goals.

There are confidential Professionals in Crisis (PIC) programs which serve high-performance business professionals, lawyers, medical personnel, entrepreneurs and other high-achieving individuals who are experiencing difficulty managing their careers and relationships because of addiction, a psychiatric disorder, demands or stress.


What is a therapeutic boarding school (TBS)?2018-03-16T14:28:46-06:00

A therapeutic boarding school (TBS), also known as a private residential treatment center / program / school, is a tuition-based, out-of-home placement that combines education and therapy for students with academic decline, alcohol and drug abuse struggles, anxiety disorders, behavioral and emotional disorders, depression, family conflicts, impulsivity, low self image, negative peer group influences, learning disabilities, poor social skills, trauma, and unhealthy relationships.

What is a therapeutic day school?2018-03-16T14:28:56-06:00

Therapeutic day schools are for students who struggle in a standard academic setting and who may have fallen behind due to behavioral, emotional or other psychological challenges. Staff and teachers are trained in working effectively with students who struggle with behavioral issues, emotional issues, learning disabilities and more.

A therapeutic day school is a good option for a student who needs some extra attention and guidance, yet doesn’t need to distance themselves from an unhealthy home or from friends who are bad influences.

What is a transitional independent living program?2018-03-16T14:29:08-06:00

Transitional Independent Living Program also known as a Young Adult Program. With the goal of helping older teens and young adults (ages 18 and over) individuate from their families and integrate successfully into the larger community, transitional independentliving programs combine home-like living with supportive activities. In these programs, young adults can receive a combination of life skills and treatment.

Trained staff will coach and mentor young adults and help them learn independent living skills, maintain health and fitness, increase self-esteem, establish positive relationships, and manage moods and mental illness/addiction.

These programs provide alcohol and drug counseling, community networking, crisis management, group and individual therapy, gaming / internet / technology addiction counseling, life skills training, and social skills training, just to name a few.

Just as with programs for adolescents, there are a wide variety of transitional living programs located all across the United States in various different settings.

What is a wilderness therapy program?2018-03-16T14:29:16-06:00

Wilderness therapy (also known as outdoor behavioral healthcare) is an adventure-based therapy treatment modality for behavior modification and interpersonal self-improvement, combining experiential education, individual and group therapy in an outdoor wilderness setting. Wilderness therapy successfully treats children, adolescents, teens, young adults and older adults from all over the world.

Wilderness treatment’s primary goal is to instill motivation and introduce new ways of life with increased self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment.

What options are available to help pay for treatment?2018-03-16T14:29:25-06:00

Addiction treatment, clinical in-patient treatment, eating disorder programs, residential therapeutic treatment and wilderness programs, can be pricey.

Combining academic support, clinical needs, medical care, psychotherapeutic treatment, recreational therapeutic support, and room and board often adds up to a significant bill. Many families are worried about their choices: opt for the comprehensive care that improves the odds of long-term recovery and pay the hefty bill, or pay less for outpatient treatment or a combination of treatment services that may or may not address all their loved one’s needs. The good news is that there are a number of ways to cover the cost. Families almost always used a combination of options in order to pay the whole bill.

Mental health care insurers find themselves with a large gap in the middle: they will reimburse for outpatient weekly therapy and at times for psychiatric hospitalization.

Unfortunately, there is not much in the middle. Insurers have fought and avoided paying for residential treatment, despite the efficacy and cost-efficiency and overall benefit to the insured battling with a psychological problem. While insurers will reimburse for specific visits to psychiatrists and psychologists, it is the rare exception that pays for residential services. Many families are forced to seek legal remedy and there are now insurance advocates and legal services to fight for insurance coverage.

Private pay residential treatment centers do not often contract directly with insurance companies, nor do they accept assignment of benefits. However, upon request, many programs are able to provide what’s called an “insurance superbill” to submit for reimbursement from your insurance provider.

Here are the most common sources utilized.

Health Insurance

Health insurance should always be the first stop when it comes to pulling together the funds to pay for treatment.

Substance abuse treatment services are one of the 10 “elements of essential health benefits” included under the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s where it can be confusing – nowhere is it defined exactly which substance abuse treatment services must be covered. Nor are there any indications how much should be covered, either in percentage or dollar amount. Therefore, there can be some tussle back and forth between the family and the insurance provider as they determine whether or not inpatient care will be covered. Many providers, for example, would like proof that residential treatment is “medically necessary” and the increased chance of relapse should treatment occur on an outpatient basis does not fill this requirement. Other providers may require that patients undergo outpatient treatment first and only when this less intensive measure proves ineffective will they agree to cover inpatient care. Again, this is around “substance abuse treatment” centers only. Residential therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness programs do not fit this category.

Credit Cards

We all know that credit cards should only be used for emergencies. The amount of interest that accumulates month after month adds up fast. Still, when this is the only means you have to pay for your child’s residential treatment then it could be worth looking into. Use the credit card with the lowest possible interest rate.


Children with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), including placement at residential programs when necessary.

In some cases, school districts offer such placements. In other cases, parents are forced to turn to the courts. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all children are entitled to a FAPE in a placement that is the least restrictive environment (LRE).

This placement is determined through an individualized educational program (IEP). When a child has a disability that prevents them from access to education, then a FAPE consists of the support and services necessary to assist the child in accessing education along with appropriate placement. In cases where a child’s mental health condition impedes their access to education, a FAPE includes the mental health services the student requires to access education.


Most families will finance all or part of the cost of treatment. Many families will be able to create a payback plan that makes sense for their schedule at a monthly payment that works for their budget. All or part of the cost of treatment can be covered through financing. Rates and payback plans are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Personal Loan

Often extended family members are willing to contribute to the cause of treatment. In some cases, it may be appropriate to create a formal contract for the loan, providing how and when the money will be paid back. Others may prefer to make a gift of the funds in order to cover part of the cost of treatment.


Many families turn to personal savings and determine whether or not they feel comfortable using all or part to cover the cost of needed services. Funds allocated for other purposes (e.g., college, retirement, etc.) may be tapped when necessary, however, emergency funds and investments are usually the best places to start. Additionally, the sale of a luxury item can help to increase the amount of cash readily available in order to pay for treatment.

What is a Parent Coach?2018-03-16T14:29:34-06:00

A parent coach is a certified professional who helps you cultivate a better relationship with your children. Whether on the phone, in-person, or over Skype, a parent coach gives customized support and advice based on each individual family’s needs. Parenting is about defining how you need and want to parent. Parenting isn’t about finding the “right” way to parent. Each of our children require something different. A parent coach addresses issues such as problems with routines and transitions (morning and night, for example), chores, parental anger, discipline, homework challenges, “disrespectful” behavior, and peer struggles. A parent coach assists the parents in creating parenting plans and then supports the parents as they practice these plans.  Children and families can be complex, and the parent coach helps the parents problem-solve as challenges arise. A parent coach is not a therapist.

What are adolescent transport services?2018-03-16T14:29:42-06:00

Adolescent transport services are available 24 hours a day, 7 day a week to assist families in need.

Most have many caring, experienced teams that will work with your family to transport your troubled child/teenager from your home or hospital to the residential treatment center, residential therapeutic boarding school, or wilderness program, that you choose.

There are three (3) primary charges associated with the transportation of an adolescent / teen minor. These charges are for the Guides, Airfare (or car rental when driving) and Hotel should they need to stay overnight due to times of flights.

There needs to be two (2) Agents to transport your child / teen, from time of pick-up until they reach the program or agreed upon program location, and then always provide a female agent when transporting females.

It is highly recommend that you hire a transport service that is business licensed, specifically insured, employs all of its interventionists, and provides thorough background checks on its entire staff.

International transport is also available.

It’s recommended you obtain references from other families / parents who have used these service providers in an effort to make the best decision for your child / adolescent and your family.

You do not want a service that uses intimidation, threatening behavior or fear as mediation tools. Not all youth transport services are equal. Some transports can be traumatizing so please ask about the team who will be with your child or adolescent. The process needs to be as painless as possible for the young person, talking them through their grievances with the current situation or whatever is going on at home or school while traveling together.

Being zip-tied by teen escorts is unacceptable.

Your child and you need to be treated with respect. Your adolescent / teen needs to be told the truth about what is happening. You need to be given all the details of the plan for the day and have a way to keep in communication with someone from the company. You and your child / teen need to be spoken to in a professional AND kind way.

Please ask a lot of questions during your interview and research process. A transport can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $9,000 depending on distance and when flights need to be booked.


What questions do I need to ask a private boarding school?2019-03-28T15:47:56-06:00
  • Do you offer financial aid? 
  • How much is tuition and what does it include?
  • How do you integrate technology into the classroom and curriculum?
  • How do you measure individual achievement and progress?
  • Is there an art studio, gymnasium, library, music room, sports field, technology center, and the like?
  • What are your class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios?
  • What are your teachers’ qualifications and what professional development opportunities are available to them?
  • What curriculum do you use?
  • Do you offer community service?
  • Do you have a homework policy, and if so, what is it?
  • What extracurricular activities do you offer?
  • What is student life like?
  • What is your approach to dealing with discipline?
  • What is your school philosophy or vision?
  • How is your school operated and governed?
  • What are your safety policies and regulations?
  • What type of student are you looking for?
  • How do you deal with a child who isn’t meeting academic expectations or who has gaps in his or her knowledge?
  • How can parents get involved in school life?
  • Is public access limited? 
  • Where do most of your graduates go? 
What questions do I need to ask an educational consultant before engaging in their services?2018-03-16T14:29:50-06:00

25 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Educational / Therapeutic Consultant

Not every question needs answering. There may be other questions you will want to ask. This list is just a first step to finding the best educational consultant for your family and student.

1. Are all your service fees stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees and how long the services will last?

2. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a company, program or school in exchange for placement or a referral? (This would be considered unprofessional)

3. Do you attend professional conferences and/or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes?

4. Do you guarantee admission to a program or school, or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (This would be considered unprofessional)

5. Do you belong to any professional associations?

6. Do you meet my child / adolescent / young adult before we engage in services with you? How do we know you will be a good match for our family?

7. How accessible are you to us after hours, holidays and weekends? Who covers for you when you are away from your office?

8. How do you keep up with new academic changes, changes in personnel and staff at programs, evolving campus cultures and trends in the educational and therapeutic arena?

9. How long have you been in business as an independent educational consultant?

10. How many programs and schools have you visited over the last 12 months? Over the last five (5) years?

11. How many program / school recommendations will you give us and are they customized to our child’s / teen’s / young adult’s specific needs?

12. How many client cases do you handle each month? How many clients do you have per year? How many are special need client based cases?

13. How often do you go out and visit programs, schools and wilderness programs and how much time do you spend on their campuses or in the field? Do you meet with academic advisors, behavior interventionists, clinical personnel, family representatives, field guides, health care providers, therapists, and other members of staff that may be interacting with my child / young adult?

14. What factors do you consider when recommending particular residential treatment and therapeutic wilderness programs?

15. What is the process like once we start services with you? Are you able to give me the steps that will be taken over the next day, week, month?

16. What makes you different from other educational / therapeutic consultants?

17. What methods do you use to determine the needs of my adolescent / young adult?

18. What methods do you use to follow-up on cases after placement? How long do you follow up with our child / adolescent / young adult?

19. What other services can you assist us with (funding sources, IEP advocates, psychologists for testing, special education lawyers, etc.)?

20. What specialized training do you have?

21. What was your background prior to going into independent educational consulting? What was your education and training?

22. Will you be objective about my child’s / young adult’s current situation?

23. Will you know whether a program or school is having financial difficulties? How do I know they won’t close after my adolescent / young adult enters the program?

24. Will you visit our child / adolescent / young adult in their program?

25. Would you provide us with a list of references from both former (or current) clients and from programs (or schools)?

What types of questions do I need to ask a program or school I am considering?2018-03-16T14:30:02-06:00

Please take your time in reviewing the information provided on the About Us page.

Find a time to make your calls when you are well rested and have uninterrupted time so you can take notes. This in itself is a time of intense information gathering and can frazzle your nerves and make you feel overwhelmed with all of the information available from each program or school. Make a list of questions that you want to ask each program / school so you will have a comparison of the same questions. Each will offer some specialities, which you can write to the side.

However, some specifics for all programs and schools needs to be covered. What you ask a residential treatment center may be a bit different than what you ask a wilderness program. Investigating which type of program will be best or your family situation takes time in researching.

When hiring a juvenile attorney, what questions do I need to ask?2019-03-28T15:25:15-06:00
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest?
  • Do you practice in the courthouse where my case is (or will be)?
  • Have you handled this type of case? 
  • Have you ever been sanctioned for, or accused of, attorney misconduct?
  • How long will this case take?
  • How will we communicate?
  • What are the likely outcomes in my case?
  • What is my role in case preparation?
  • What strategy do you propose?
  • What will the fees and expenses be?
  • Who will be doing the work?

Contact These Programs Today. Engage in Your First Step.

Please research all across TroubledTeenHelp.com on your own, on your own time. Search for an Expert to assist, and visit the various program and school websites so that you may become informed about academic plans, clinical approaches, treatment options, and overall program and treatment center philosophies and structures.

All of this information is available to you 24×7, each and every day of the year.