by Jennifer Taylor, JD, of JET ED Consulting
Hiring a Therapeutic Educational Consultant is a big decision. Just like any other major life decision, families want to know that the expertise, service and reliability of the services they need and invest in, will be the best they can get.
Families will invest in a good doctor for major healthcare issues, invest in a good accountant for taxes, and invest in purchasing a home or apartment after a professional inspection. Why then would a parent place the mental, academic, physical safety and health of their child in the hands of any residential program, including wilderness, without an expert Consultant providing expertise in program placement?
When exploring hiring a Therapeutic Educational Consultant, there are things every family will want to ask. Below is just a few beginning suggestions for things to inquiry about, before hiring.
- Ask if the professional Therapeutic Educational Consultant is a member of IECA or TCA. IECA, Independent Educational Consultants of Association have Associate and Professional members. Either in IECA requires quality and ethics based upon strict criteria. TCA, Therapeutic Consulting Association, also requires ongoing program site visits, advanced degrees and enough program placement experience to even just become a member.
- Ask how many programs the Consultant visits each year. A reputable consultant will visit a minimum of 50-100 programs each year. If a consultant does not travel and see programs, it is unlikely they have the most up-to-date information about programs. Websites are commercial and available to anyone. You should be investing in an expert who is regularly traveling to tour programs.
- Gather information to understand how the Therapeutic Educational Consultant works. Everyone works differently. Ask what kind of follow-up support you will get. Will the Consultant charge more for calls and emails after the adolescent or young adult has recommended placements? Do they provide ongoing support to parents and loved-ones? Is there a contract end date and/or typical timeline for communication while they are supporting the family?
- Ask how often the Therapeutic Educational Consultant will interface with the therapeutic program during the program placement. Does the Consultant stay involved in the therapeutic process to support and provide input for treatment results and supporting the entire family through the continuum of the treatment timeline?
- Ask what other activities the Therapeutic Educational Consultant does to improve themselves professionally (i.e. attend conferences on specific mental health, substance abuse, family systems etc.). Do they have advanced degrees? Do they host parent support groups? Do they regularly interface with local therapists? Do they have a collaborative consultation group, or access other ways to use colleagues for further information, expertise and professional support? Do they speak at conferences, schools, local community groups? What families need to be trying to seek out is seeing how invested this professional is in their work and ongoing development.
6. Similar to any other professional a family is looking to hire, you are encouraged to ask to speak with a Therapeutic Educational Consultant’s references. Inquire about providing a list of references to better ensure the professionalism of their work, but hearing about it from a previous client who’d worked with that professional. If a Consultant refuses to share references, this may be something you want to take note of.
These six key points are only the beginning of what you are encouraged to look for and ask about when speaking with a Therapeutic Educational Consultant. Hiring a Consultant is a big deal. Often, families are reaching out in a time of crisis, at which point there’s still enough time for you to ask for the above information before deciding to hire someone. Hire the professional that is not only going to help your adolescent or young adult, but will work with your entire family.