When Home Isn’t Working: How to Find Therapeutic Programs, with Sue Scheff

gender nonconformity kids

The focus of this episode is how to find the right program if / when you realize your child is in need of more substantial therapeutic support or intervention. I’ve wanted to cover this topic for a long time because I know how overwhelming it can be if this is a road your family is going down. Sue Scheff has decades of experience in this field, personal and professional, and I’m grateful she joined me to shed light on the ins and outs of navigating different therapeutic programs. 

Sue founded the Parents’ Universal Resource Experts Inc. in 2001 after her own difficult experience with her daughter led her to realize how much she could help educate parents. Since then her organization has helped thousands of parents identify and select qualified, safe, residential therapeutic schools and programs to help their at-risk teens. In this conversation, Sue give us an overview of the options available to parents whose kids are struggling with challenging or dangerous behaviors and are in need of more intensive supports. Sue explains the difference between therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and wilderness programs, what the signals are that a child would benefit from these types of supports, how to identify the best fit program, the possibilities for having programs covered by insurance, and much more. 


About Sue Scheff

Founder and President of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts Inc. (P.U.R.E.™), Sue Scheff has been leveraging her personal experiences to help others through her organization since 2001. After being stalked, harassed, bullied and slandered online – in 2006, Scheff won a landmark case for internet defamation with an $11.3M jury verdict. Since then, she’s been an advocate for cyberbullying prevention and promoting the importance of online reputation. 

She has three published books, Wit’s End (HCI 2007), Google Bomb (HCI 2009) with a foreword by Michael Fertik and her latest, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks 2017) with a foreword by Monica Lewinsky.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • The differences between therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and wilderness programs
  • What the signs are that a child may be in need of more intensive intervention or a therapeutic program
  • How to go about identifying and vetting programs that are an ideal fit for a child’s individual challenges
  • How to best proceed when a program of interest has some negative online reviews
  • The possibilities that exist for having the high cost of therapeutic programs be partially (or fully) covered by insurance
  • Whether or not parents should be concerned about placing their teens in programs where their peer group may be dealing with more problematic behavior
  • Why any therapeutic program has to involve the whole family in order for it to be effective


Resources mentioned for therapeutic programs


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Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

Tilt Parenting is proud to partner with Fusion Academy this season. Fusion Academy is the world’s most personalized school with one to one classrooms that match your student’s pace and preferences so they can learn better, dive deeper, and never get left behind. Learn more about the most personalized school in the world and how it’s changed the lives of 10s of 1000s of differently wired students, including mine at fusionacademy.com/tilt 

Sue Scheff  00:27

Any parent that has the illusion that your child is going to go into a program and they’re going to come out perfect is an illusion because there’s always going to be bumps, right? Everything is a learning experience. And there’s no perfect program out there. Even my relative that finished her program. I mean, we still have struggles here and there. But the best thing they come out with is those coping skills to learn how to deal with bumps that life gives you and that’s what you have to look for.

Debbie Reber  00:56

Welcome to Tilt parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. Today, I’m bringing you an episode that covers a new topic for this show. How to find the right program when you realize your child is in need of more substantial therapeutic support or intervention. I’ve wanted to cover this topic for a long time because I know how overwhelming it can be on so many levels. If this is a road your family is going down. Sue Scheff has decades of experience in this field is personal and professional. And I’m so grateful she joined me to help shed light on the ins and outs of navigating different therapeutic programs. Sue founded the Parents Universal Resource Experts in 2001, after her own experience with her daughter led her to realize how much she could help educate other parents. Since then, her organization has helped 1000s of parents identify and select qualified safe residential therapeutic schools and programs to help their at risk teens. Sue was also an advocate for cyber bullying, prevention and promoting the importance of online reputation. She’s written three books on her experiences as a parent advocate and bullying expert including Wit’s End, Google bomb, and her latest Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate. With Sue’s fascinating background, we could have explored many different topics for this episode. But what I wanted to do in this conversation is have Sue give us an overview of the options available to parents whose kids are struggling with challenging or dangerous behaviors and are in need of more intensive supports. So she explains the difference between therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers and wilderness programs. What the signals are that a child would benefit from these types of supports, how to identify the best fit program, the possibilities for having programs covered by insurance, and much more. I learned a lot making this episode. If you are on the journey of finding a residential program for your differently wired child. I hope you find this information and the resources su shares helpful for what you’re going through. Before I get to that, I want to be sure you know that Seth Perler, my friend, colleague, executive function coach, who has been on this show many times, he’s getting ready for his next executive function online summit. The summit starts this week on August 11, and runs for three days. If your child is struggling with lagging executive function skills, you will not want to miss this event. You can learn more by going to tiltparenting.com/tefos that stands for the executive function online Summit. I always learned so much from this event. And I guarantee this is one summit you don’t want to miss again, just go to tilt parenting.com/t foes to learn more and to register. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Sue Scheff.

Debbie Reber  03:59

Hey, Sue, welcome to the podcast.

Sue Scheff  04:01

Oh, thank you, Debbie. I’m so happy to be here.

Debbie Reber  04:04

Well, I’m really looking forward to this conversation. And as we were talking before I hit record. This is a new topic for the show. But it is one I’ve been wanting to cover because I think we’re going to be exploring some information that is really relevant to a lot of members of my community. So as a way to get into that I always ask my guests to start by telling me their personal why and I know this is very personal for you. So would you kind of give us a little bit of your story and how you got to be doing the work that you do. 

Sue Scheff  04:32

Sure, well, it happened. I’ve had my organization for 22 years. I created it in 2001. And it was right after what happened to my own daughter. I had a child who was a good kid making some bad choices. She was a national gymnast, and once she made nationals about six months into it, she broke her foot into like five different places and wasn’t able to compete anymore and was asked to leave the team. So she came home and just had no identity of herself anymore. Just started hanging out with a bad group of kids. But you know what, I don’t blame the kids. And I don’t I almost hate it. When I hear parents say, oh, it’s the other kids, you know, our kids make bad choices, good kids make bad choices. And she also had learning problems and needed higher support and learning. So she was in a special school. But she’s still started hanging out with the less than desirable peer group. So we went from bad to worse, we tried therapy, we tried an intensive outpatient program, we tried a lot of different resources at home. And then she started running away, a little bit of drinking. And then we got to the point where we clashed at home. And then I ended up sending her to go live with my mother for a short time. And then my mother called me up and she’s like, Oh, my gosh, we really need to get her help. Because she just had low self worth, she had no identity after not being a gymnast, she was a gymnast from the age of five, six years old, to 13 years old. And that’s all she knew of her life. So right away, I hired an educational consultant. And back then they were, I hate to say this, but they were only $350 an hour today. They’re like five to $8,000 when you hire them, but you could fire them after an hour. And that’s exactly what I did, because they just pushed these wilderness programs on you. And my daughter was struggling with severe depression. Last thing I want to do is put her out into the woods with some beans and rice and the philosophy of wellness is to break a child down. So I fired him after an hour and jumped online. And even 23, 24 years ago, the Internet was very deceptive, and you didn’t know it was behind the screen. So I ended up placing her into a very deceptive and abusive program. She was there for six months, I didn’t see her and didn’t speak to her. And everybody listening is probably going Oh, my God, well, they just kept telling me to trust the program, trust the program. And when you’re at your wit’s end, that’s all you hope for is that you’re paying that and even back then you paid a lot of money. And I was just thinking, they must know what they’re doing. While I was wrong. And once I realized what was going on, I pulled her from the program, I posted online about the abuse that she endured, and I filed a huge lawsuit and I won a huge lawsuit. And with that lawsuit ended up, it was the demise of all 22 of their programs. From there, I worked with three big law firms. And we represented hundreds of kids that were abused. And these programs were featured on all these 48 hours, 20 2060 minutes, all these big shows that talked about it was a worldwide association of specialty schools and programs, they no longer exist out there. But what I went on to do is create this organization that helps educate families on how to find safe, healthy alternatives, how to research schools and programs. And that’s what we need. I’m not like these organizations that some have created and former people that were abused that are trying to shut down every program because the truth is, we need safe alternatives for our kids. I literally just had placed one of my own family members about two and a half years ago, because she was struggling with not only the cell phone addiction, but self harm, depression, and we exhausted all our local resources with her. So I mean, I see the need for therapeutic boarding schools, I don’t think they should be shut down. I think we need, you know, quality control out there. And parents need options. So that’s how I came to be where I am. And I did for those of you that I know have Googled me. Yes, I won the $11.3 million case and this whole deal. So I didn’t collect the whole 11 point 3 million, but that’s who I am and how I got to where I am today with my organization.

Debbie Reber  08:42

Such an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing that. And like so many people I’ve had as guests on the show, I’m always so inspired when people create what they needed. And you are helping so many families through the work that you do. So it’s just really powerful. So your organization is called PURE, which stands for Parents, Universal Resource Experts. Could you tell us a little bit about in you know, more detail what you do and how you support families.

Sue Scheff  09:11

Right? It’s helpyourteens.com on the internet. And what we do is we try to help parents, educate them on the right questions to ask schools and programs when they’re looking online. Stay away from those marketing arms that are trying to just to sell us schools and programs that are paid to play. Stay away from these sponsored listings that put more money into marketing rather into the program. Always speak to a person that’s located at the school or program, someone that has invested in interest in your child. Basically what we do is educate you and we can give you launching pads over the past two decades. We literally, I myself and I have some other parent advocates and parent volunteers that have gone out we have visited and these are also parents that have had kids in really good programs that have gone out and visited Schools and Programs, we research them, we’ve done our due diligence. So we can give you launching pads of programs that have worked for parents that have these parents have used them theirs, their kids have used them, they’ve had positive results. I don’t want to first of all, any parent that has the illusion that your child is going to go into a program and they’re going to come out perfect. It’s an illusion, because there’s always going to be bumps, right? Everything is a learning experience. And there’s no perfect program out there. Even my relative that finished her program. I mean, we still have struggles here and there. But the best thing they come out with is those coping skills to learn how to deal with bumps that life gives you. And that’s what you have to look for. And I think the best part of these programs is the family unity, because it finally brings the family back together. It focuses on family unity. And that’s what you need. Once you remove all this tension and conflict in the house. You can start now going back to family unity, bringing the family back together.

Debbie Reber  11:02

You mentioned therapeutic boarding schools. So can you define what that is? I mean, I know there are therapeutic boarding schools, there are residential treatment centers, there are wilderness programs, like when I think about what’s available for kids who may have significant needs, and their parents are looking for more support. Those are the three options that I’m aware of. So could you kind of define the landscape for us a little bit?

Sue Scheff  11:26

Absolutely. So therapeutic boarding school and a residential treatment center left look at those two, both of them provide behavior modification clinically and educationally. It’s about emotional growth, physical health, mental health, family unity, social relationships, and academic support. Now, what is really the difference between them, it really depends on the state and the licensing and how they want to call them, there’s not really a big difference, residential treatment facilities or centers, whatever you however you want to label them, it depends on the insurance really, and what how they’re labeling them may sometimes have more medical staff on staff, that’s really the only difference. What I tell parents to look for is what I call the ACE factor, a for accredited academics, C for a credentialed clinical team, and E for the enrichment programs. And E is the most important one, believe it or not, of course, being accredited and credentialed is important, but those enrichment programs are what’s going to stimulate your child to wake up every morning, whether it’s animal assisted therapy, Sports Therapy, horticultural art therapy is amazing for these kids with ADHD, or trauma or any type of support that they need to learn coping skills with anger management, stress management, all these types of other types of therapy, besides talk therapy is so beneficial. And those are called the enrichment programs. Now, let’s go to wilderness programs. I myself am not a big proponent of them, although, if a parent calls me and they’re really hung up on going to a wilderness program, there are some really great wilderness programs out there. But what parents need to understand is short term programs yield short term results, and they are now up to $650 to $700 a day, your insurance will not cover them. Okay. And what happens is you start program hopping, because at the end of four to six weeks, and they’re typically about nine weeks, they say to you, Oh, Mr. Mrs. Smith, Susie’s doing really well, however, she’s going to have to go on to a long term program to have long lasting results. Of course she is. So now you got to put out another $100,000. Whereas if you were to do right out of the gate, a long term program, a six 910 month program, you wouldn’t have a double dip. The majority of Educational Consultants always do this double dip, and they’d like to say, well, you know, therapeutic boarding schools don’t want a child until they’ve been broken down and wilderness first. And that’s just not true. A lot of these therapeutic boarding schools or RTCs, residential treatment centers are designed to take your defiant teenager. And I’ll tell you, maybe just maybe if your child is using so much marijuana, or drinking so much they need to go out in the wilderness to detox maybe. But outside of that, I don’t see a reason because what happens is your child also becomes deflated. Now, they’re changing therapists, they’re changing facilities, they’re changing staff, and they have to start all over again. And by the way, parents, if you’re paying, you’re paying startup fees, again, you’re paying transport fees again, you’re paying everything all over again. It’s expensive. When I wrote my first book, I interviewed several 100 parents on this, and although many of them had a really good experience in wilderness, that’s why I’m not degrading wilderness. It’s just said it was an unnecessary step. There’s a lot of great wilderness programs out there. I’m not Like against it. I’m just saying for parents that don’t have that extra 40, $50,000. Don’t be depressed about it, because it’s not a necessary step.

Debbie Reber  15:09

Well, that is really good information. And that is a hefty price tag. I think that’s one of the things I know I see it in, you know, listservs. And among communities that I’m in where parents are really navigating this landscape, the finances are really prohibitive and could be such a hardship on a family. So you mentioned that wilderness isn’t covered by insurance. Can you talk a little bit about how it works with insurance companies? Like is it possible to get a residential treatment center covered?

Sue Scheff  15:39

This is where I educate parents most on so if you have a PPO insurance, PPO typically has out of network benefits and is usually deductible to meet. So it’s usually like I just placed my own family member like I told you, and we had Blue Cross Blue Shield. So Blue Cross Blue Shield has out of network benefits and sodas, I will tell you, I know the insurance is now pretty well. Cigna and Aetna are premier when it comes to mental health and then United is right behind it. And then Blue Cross Blue Shield is number four. And what you would do is you meet you’re out of network, of course, it depends how your policy reads, you have an add of network benefit, you meet that deductible, whether it’s 500 to 12, ours was 12,000. So you pay the 12,000. And then after that, it comes up to the next eight teams goes up to 18,000 and pays 50% of the clinical, then it goes up to paying 100% of the clinical. Some people literally like which Cigna have gotten up to 80 to 90% of their program paid for. I’ve seen that, even with Aetna. Now I’m telling you only PP. This is PPO. Now with HMO HMO is tricky. If you have an HMO, you do have to stay in-network. However, there are exceptions, if you have tried everything locally, would your son or daughter. And without success, you can apply for a single case agreement. And believe it or not, that single case agreement will pay up to 100% of an out of network program. And I’m not sure if you’re aware of that. The other thing is there are educational loans that have a fairly you know, they’re not high interest rates. The other thing is your IEPs that are out there, IEP s are sometimes approved in these programs. The other thing is if you have an adopted child, four or five states out there now have AAP adoption assistance programs. California is very prevalent with it right now, where there are programs that ‘ll pay up to $14,000 a month of a residential program a month. I know California has I think Texas, Kentucky, I forget all the states, but you’d have to find out about it. So there are ways, little to no scholarships, I know that the wilderness programs came up with this scholarship thing, but to me, it’s a little bit tricky. But I’m not a big wilderness proponent and it’s not going to resolve your programs, everyone needs to really drill this into your head, it didn’t take four to five weeks to get to where you’re at right now, it’s not going to take four to five weeks to turn it around or four to nine weeks to turn it around. So you have to think about that.

Debbie Reber  18:11

That’s really good to hear. I think so many parents, you know, when they get to this point are, I don’t think desperate is too strong a word, a lot of parents just feel like they have no options and that they need to make a decision. And they just want things sobbed right. You know, especially if they’ve been struggling at home. And then once they make that decision to take the leap, they so desperately want the issue to be resolved. And it’s just a good reminder that this is a long road, it’s still a marathon at this point.

Sue Scheff  18:41

Well, and that’s it. But then what happens is they get that salesperson on the other line, that’s going to tell them oh, yes, we can do this. I don’t want to start naming and shaming programs out there. But I know certain programs that will convince these parents Oh, yeah, we can get it done in 30 days or 60 days. And I want you to go back and reflect on, like detox, even for adult detox programs and 28 days. And if they don’t work, it’s up to the adult to, after the 28 days to do that one day at a time. And with kids, it needs to take at least six to nine months for the good changes to become a habit. And you have to really understand that the modality of the program is there for a reason. If it’s a 10 month program, it’s a 10 month program for a reason they need to do the full 10 months if it’s a six month program, same reason why?

Debbie Reber  19:31

So I’m curious to know, just give us a little more insight into the types of challenges that parents are facing when they come to see you. And I guess what that tipping point is because I think my community of parents with neurodivergent kids who might have additional things going on anxiety or depression, maybe substance abuse, self harm, all those kinds of factors. How does a parent know that it’s time for something more substantial? And do you work with therapists? Like what does the process actually look like?

Sue Scheff  20:03

So a lot of times, the therapist will actually say to the parent, listen, we reached a dead end, we can’t go any further. They need residential. Parents typically come to us when they are at their wit’s end. And I typically say, Come to me before you reach your wit’s end so that you have all the knowledge in your hand before you get to that point, so that when you do hit that crisis moment, you’re not all over the internet and going to make a rash decision. What we’re seeing most today is the addiction to the smartphones, you know, the addiction to cell phones, or gaming, and the kids just can’t put it away, right? They’re withdrawn, they stay in their bedrooms. School refusal is huge. skipping classes, the depression, the anxiety, self harm, everything you’re mentioning, is, it’s not like it was back in our day, when you skip a class or two today, they’ve really taken it to an extreme. Parents come to us when the kids are a danger to themselves or danger to other the aggression, punching holes in the wall going after the parents. I even say don’t use the word violent, use the word aggression, because once you put violent down on an application, you’re usually not accepted. Initially, the parents come to us when they literally feel like you’re a hostage in your own home, and you just can’t go on any further. I mean, this is it, I’m done. Believe it or not, I’ve had parents call me or one parent has actually moved out and is living in a hotel room more than once. They cannot live at home anymore, because it just so toxic, we’ve come to a point where a lot of these kids feel like they have so much control over their parents, therapy doesn’t work, they refuse to go to therapy, they will or they won’t engage in therapist they therapy, they manipulate the therapist. I mean, we’re getting this a lot today.

Debbie Reber  21:51

And I just want to say for listeners, too, that Sue and I were talking before this conversation. And for those of you who are listening who have autistic kids who might be in autistic shutdown or in school refusal and things going on that are a result of their autism. That’s not really what we’re talking about today. So you know, I know thinking about school refusal, or if you have a kid who is in autistic burnout, or a child who really needs that low demand approach right now, that is not what this conversation is about. I just want to put that out there. We’re really talking about those kids who are, as you just explained, kind of struggling with more extreme behaviors. And therapy isn’t working. But it’s not specifically related to, for example, autism. 

Sue Scheff  22:33

Yeah, oh, absolutely. Another big group that we’ve seen come into play is the young adults, I can’t tell you how many parents are calling me with 18-19 year olds, that failure to launch is another big, big one that’s coming into play.

Debbie Reber  22:48

So in that case, with the failure to launch, I’m assuming there are programs that are very specific for different needs, like Is that how it works?

Sue Scheff  22:56

Absolutely. Like, especially when you have a young adult, Let’s hypothetically say they’re not doing drugs or not drinking or anything, they’re just isolating in their bedroom, they’re depressed, they don’t want to go to school. They don’t want to do anything. They’re socially awkward, and basically have to shut down. There are programs for emotional growth, life skills programs out there. Absolutely. And that do not focus on 12 steps because the one thing you see a lot when it comes to young adult programs is they focus a lot on the 12 step, which is like for Alcoholics Anonymous, or, you know, the, for the drug abuse. And some of these young adults simply, if they are smoking pot, it’s recreationally, it’s not as an addiction. I’m not condoning it. I’m just putting it out there. It’s not like they need to go into a detox. They’re using it as anxiety relief, which I’m not again, I’m not condoning I’m just saying they’re not addicts. They don’t need to go into detox. But they just need something to get them motivated to find future goals. They have literally no goals. They don’t even want to come out of their bedroom. They don’t want to get a job. And the parents can’t get them motivated. We’re seeing that a lot.

Debbie Reber  24:10

Yeah, and so I’m wondering, it seems like it would be so important to find the program that really meets a child’s unique profile or what they need the most. So how many programs are available? And how hard is it to find that fit?

Sue Scheff  24:24

Okay, so I’ll give you some really great tips. First of all, there’s hundreds of programs out there, but it’s so important. Where we come in is so important. I tell parents to find the most appropriate program for your child, not which geographically can be. I have so many parents to come in. I want to program close to me. No, you don’t. You want a program that best fits your child’s emotional needs. Even if you have to go five states away. It’s because this is only a snapshot of your child’s life. They’re not going to be there forever. There’s maybe six months to 10 months and you don’t go to visit them every weekend. You’re going every three months or whatever for pay. Aren’t there parenting workshops, everyone’s doing this together, and you’re going to be zooming in with them every week. It’s not like what happened to me six months ago, we in 2007, we went to Congress to help develop more oversight in these programs. So there’s a lot of oversight now. So you are involved in these programs. So most importantly, as you find the most is what we do, we help you find the most appropriate program for your individual needs. That means not placing your child out of their element. And one of the most important ways you can do this is number one, always have an interview with the clinical director staying away from these marketing arms. And also talking to parent references. This is so key on my website, help your teens.com under key topics, which you click, there’s research tips, I have pages of tips on there. And one of them is parent references, and as questions to ask parent references, because this is typically a parent’s first time out here on this journey. So you don’t know every question to ask. And so you want to ask, you always want to ask the school or program, Hey, can I talk to parents with boys or girls, similar to my own child, like if you have a 15 year old boy, and if your child was adopted, you want to talk to other parents have adopted 15 year old boys. And if you’re from Virginia, say, you know from the Virginia area, and if not, Virginia, South Carolina, northeast from the you know, East Coast area. So you want to try to get as many similarities as possible, and they’ll give them to you. And if they try to use the excuse of HIPAA, which they may, you can override that because I don’t want to use the word legitimate. Most programs out there will get signed consents to be parent references, they have worked with many programs out there. And they all do this, they have parent references, because they want to help other parents feel more at ease. And when of course, you’re going to get good parent references. And on my list of questions, one of the key questions you ask is, hey, it sounds like you had a really good experience that X, Y and Z. If you could change one thing about that program, what would it be? Then you’re going to get a little bit of negative nothing wrong with that. It may prompt you to ask an another question, right? Or you can even say to them, Hey, listen, before you chose that program. Was there another program you considered because that parent already went on this journey? So you’re gonna get so much information. Every parent I’ve worked with, they’ve always said to me, that was like the best learning experience for them was talking to other parents that just did this journey.

Debbie Reber  27:26

Yeah, that makes so much sense. I’d love to just ask a question that I know comes up for people: this concern about Are there risks when putting kids in a peer group where other peers are struggling with as serious or worse things. And I want to get to that, but before we do, we’ll take a quick break. 

Debbie Reber  27:43

Every student is so different, but traditional schools treat them all the same. That’s why my teen attends Fusion Academy, the world’s most personalized school. Fusion is especially great for differently wired students. Their one to one classrooms match your student’s unique pace and preferences so they can learn better, dive deeper and never get left behind. Fusion has 80 convenient campus locations across the country for grades six through 12, along with a fully online campus, Fusion Global Academy. Fusion has been a game changer for my family. Why not experience the world’s most personalized school for yourself? Fusion is now enrolling for full Fall Enrollment. Sign up for a free one to one trial session at fusionacademy.com/tilt That’s fusionacademy.com/tilt

Debbie Reber  28:32

So right before we went to break, I was asking, you know, this idea of introducing our kids to a peer group that might potentially be more troubled or struggling in different or maybe more significant ways than our kid is? Is that something that you see or how do you counsel parents around that concern?

Sue Scheff  28:49

One of the questions you want to ask the clinical director is what is the population of kids that you have there now, and again, you can also ask, the parent references this too, because last thing you want to do is place your good kid making bad choices, maybe an entitled brat into a program that populates a lot of kids using drugs, drinking, self harming eating disorders. So you want to make sure you are placing them into a program that are kids that are very similar to what your child is, so that it all comes down to you’re interviewing and asking the right questions. And if you can, and not every parent can, and I fully understand this, if you can go to visit the program is really your best option. Because then you get a firsthand look at what’s going on there at the students that are there. But really talking to your parent references is going to be your best resource because they’re going to be able to tell you what the other students were like there. I’ll give you a quick insight on and that’s a really great question because so there’s a program and I’m not going to name programs because I just don’t think it’s right but there’s a program to specializes with adopted kids only when you go into One program that just does like all adoptive kids, what happens is they do go in one set of problems, and they come out with another set of problems. So you really have to look for a little bit of diversity. Like if you want to go into a program that specializes, if it’s rad, I think that reactive attachment disorder, I think that that’s really great. But I would also have a little bit of everything so that they’re not going to gravitate to one set of problems and come out with another set of problems. You want a good balance. You know, I think when you go in with all rad, it’s a little bit, I think that’s what you’re getting at, but it’s all about your interviewing. And that’s why my website is so comprehensive on how to interview, my wisdom is learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge.

Debbie Reber  30:41

Yeah. And listeners, I will have links to all of Sue’s resources in the show notes and Sue’s website, help your teens.com is incredibly comprehensive. There are so many resources there. So if this is something that you’re thinking may be in your future, or maybe you’re navigating it now, I absolutely encourage you to go check out the Help your team’s website and all the work that Sue’s doing. But before we kind of wrap up, I did want to touch upon the family piece. So you mentioned earlier that when a kid comes out of one of these programs, you want them to have both these coping skills, and then really being focused on that family unity. So could you talk a little bit about the family involvement, ideally, in one of these programs? What does that look like?

Sue Scheff  31:24

Well, all the well rounded residential programs, they encourage and provide the family therapy, the on site visits, the home passes the phone calls, but when you’re talking about when they come home,

Debbie Reber  31:37

yeah, either while they’re there, and then when they come home, I think a lot of parents will want a solution, right? They want something to be fixed. But this is really a whole family experience, I imagine

Sue Scheff  31:48

it is absolutely. So during the whole stay, they are involved, they’re zooming at least once or twice a week with their child and without their child, then they’re going to parenting workshops are priceless. Because you’re all learning how to navigate each other all these because this isn’t just about the child, this is about the entire family, even siblings to by the way, whoever’s living in the house, and then about 60 days to 90 days before the child’s getting ready to come home, they will come home and a home pass and there’s going to be like testing the waters. And then what’s going to happen is together, they’re going to be creating that home contract. They’re going to be deciding things like therapy, right? What kind of therapy because like with my family member here, we opted for work better for her, a teen life coach, you know, sometimes team life coaches, where everybody’s different, but that’s what she opted for. And there’s going to be concessions because we want this is what the program does for us. They moderate or I should say mediate moderation for the entire family so that we have harmony now. You have to decide school options, I get parents that call me up. Well, what’s going to happen after the program? Where are you going to go to school, I’m like, we cannot put the cart before the horse. Because once she goes through the program about 30 and 60, 90 days out, you’re all going to sit down as a family with your therapist and decide Okay, now what school is best for her? Because we don’t know right now, you know, is it going to be virtual? Is it going to be a charter school? Is it going to be a private school? We don’t know yet. Let’s see where she’s at then. And it’s the same thing, one of the most important thing is going to be the tech agreement, the tech contract, you know, your technology agreement, because she or he is going to have a whole new outlook on a healthy relationship with technology because they’re not going to have a cell phone the entire time. They’re there. It’s something that they work through with the entire family. It’s all about this whole family unity and the best part about all this is the child has built up their self worth that they feel good about themselves, the families feeling good about themselves. It’s such a phenomenal experience. But I mean, I said I really do think a lot of it stems back to this social media with a lot of today’s young people and detrimental to a lot of them.

Debbie Reber  34:04

Yeah, it is tricky times out there for sure. Right now, before we say goodbye. I just wonder if you have I don’t know a calming word of wisdom or something for parents who, again are kind of in this or they foresee that this is a road they’re going to be going down. What advice or words of wisdom would you have for them?

Sue Scheff  34:24

Go with your gut a parent’s got is always knows best. I’ll never forget when I went to visit my daughter’s school, my gut told me something wasn’t right. But I said, Oh, I’m just emotional. I must not be thinking right and I left her anyway. But my gut told me not to leave her. If you’re visiting schools, or you’re talking to a sales rep on the phone, even if it’s admissions director and it just doesn’t feel right. Hang up the phone. There’s 100 programs out there choose another one. Your parents intuition is always right. It just is I can’t say that enough. It’s just the truth. And the other thing I want to let everyone know is these online reviews with these programs, a program can be out there 20 30, 40 years, even the program where I place my granddaughter, I mean, it has some negative online reviews. I’ve known the program for 20 years, I knew the owners forever, the program owner who had passed away several years ago, but her daughter runs it actually treated my own daughter for PTSD. They have negative reviews out there. People who who have something nasty to say will say it fast and furious on the internet, a lot of people that have good experiences, don’t write that much on the internet. Be really, really careful. I’ve written an article online, several articles online about online reviews. If you really like a program and you’re reading negative reviews, take it to the owner, or the admissions director or someone and ask them to explain it. If you still are not happy with the program, don’t go there. But like myself, when I had my daughter was abused. I took it all the way to court, I went to trial, we went to trial in Utah with mine. And I mean, I’m won a huge case a jury against their peers, not my peers, and I still won. So unless there’s a court case, listen, bad things happen all the time in these programs, I’m not telling you to dismiss it. But if you really like a program and you’re reading these negative reviews, I just say sometimes people can write anything online. I just feel like if you really do like a program and you and you’re reading all these negative reviews, and those websites that are fear mongering parents from the programs that these kids were in from the 22 programs that I shut down, there’s still writing negative stuff out there. They have to move on and let these new families get help. Because there are good programs out there. I promise you there I’ve seen them. So don’t let some of these sites fear mongering you not into getting your child help.

Debbie Reber  36:47

That’s really great advice. Well, Sue, thank you so much. Again, listeners, definitely check out help your teens.com if this is something you’re working through right now check out Sue’s resources. And are there any other places where you want people to connect with you?

Sue Scheff  37:02

Yeah, well, I have. I’m on Facebook. It’s helped your teens on Facebook also.

Debbie Reber  37:06

But that’s it. Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Sue.

Sue Scheff  37:10

Yeah. Thank you so much, Debbie. You’ve been wonderful and I love what you do too. So thank you.

Debbie Reber  37:17

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