The best initial sources of advice regarding placement are mental health professionals and educational consultants. It's worth the cost of these services to ensure that you have the objective support, guidance, and advocacy you need to make a sound treatment choice.
Overview: Referring Professionals
Referring professionals can include physicians, therapists, clinical psychologists, educators, and any other professional with expertise in providing health-related services to young people. These professionals can provide assessments and diagnostic information and help you understand the kind of help your child may need. Many also have some knowledge of treatment programs and may suggest one or more for you to consider. Since there are thousands of treatment options available for young people, it is difficult for most professionals to have detailed knowledge of these options, so it is important for parents to complement professional placement advice with their own research to find the right treatment program.
Some referring professionals, however, specialize in placement and therefore have both a broad and deep knowledge of treatment options, program quality, and the type of young person each program serves. These placement specialists are called educational consultants.
What is an Educational Consultant?
An educational consultant is a placement professional, typically possessing an educational and/or clinical background, whose expertise is matching young people with the appropriate program. Educational consultants who specialize in therapeutic placements are called "special needs" educational consultants. These educational consultants regularly visit and evaluate most or all legitimate treatment programs in the country to gain firsthand knowledge of their staff, clientele, and programming. Special needs educational consultants should also possess a deep understanding of adolescent therapeutic and educational issues, and their solutions.
An educational consultant not only helps match your child to the right program at the beginning of the treatment process, he or she also serves as a support during treatment, helping you navigate the treatment process and advocating for you as necessary. Many will also help you with post-treatment decisions.
To find a certified special needs educational consultant in your area, we suggest that you consult the website of the Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA). Be sure to ask what services a given consultant provides before, during, and after the treatment process.