The Search for Therapists, Programs, and Schools

At times in your life you are grateful for the resources you have access to because of who you know, your ability to pay, and your education.  Never is this more true than when it comes to fighting mental illness.

I am a person who is a giver.  I’m a good friend, who makes friends everywhere and works to keep them.  This has been true throughout my life.  The situation with my son put me in a strange place, I had to ask others for help and support.  I now lean more on those around me to get through the day, whether it was my colleagues at work last year, or friends this fall, or my family, I’m the one who needs my family and friendships more than ever before.  This has been so difficult for me, but necessary.

Bottom line, there are not enough good therapists in this country for the numbers of people who need them.  This is especially true in rural areas like Montana. You can wait months to get into an effective therapist even as one of the fortunate ones,  I had health insurance, and could pay cash.

Due to my work in special education I knew of an excellent therapist I wanted for my son at home. This led to my first call in for a favor and it worked.  The therapist squeezed him in, and has been a rock through this difficult process. Without this phone call, I could have had to of wait months to find someone suitable for him to receive help from and to provide us with guidance.

In a similar fashion, therapeutic programs have gatekeepers in educational consultants.  They cost more money, but I would never engage in the process of looking at programs without one that you trust.  Fortunately, again do to connections we found both of our educational consultants.

If you decide your child needs more support and look at wilderness programs you quickly learn anyone can make a website look good.  How do you figure out which one is a good fit and will help and not hurt your child?  This is where educational consultants come in.   They spend their time researching and visiting programs and therapists.  They then learn about your child and their needs and make their recommendations. You, as the parent, have the final say within which program you think your child would be a good match.  However, for this service you are paying a fee to the educational consultant on top of the fees you will pay to the program your child will attend.  Again, if you cannot pay your child does not get served.

The same story is true for therapeutic boarding schools.  The educational consultant completes the research to figure out the best school matches for your child.  A few times now I have looked at a website of a school that looks like a solid match for my son. However, when I follow up with the educational consultant I find out that the place is very poorly run or has other problems.  This is what makes picking programs with more support so tricky and time consuming for everyone involved.  Right now I’m traveling around the country meeting with people and eventually visiting therapeutic boarding schools hoping to find a correct fit for the next stage of our fight.

Bottom line, if you can pay a door unlocks to help your child overcome their struggles with mental illness and even substance abuse.  I cringe when I think about the number of children and parents who are suffering alone because they do not have the financial resources necessary to get the help they desperately need.




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