Interview with Dore E. Frances

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. Educational/Therapeutic Consultant and Founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC. Her doctorate is in Human Development with an emphasis in Diverse Families. If you are interested in learning more about Dore, please visit her website, or call (303) 448-8803.

How did you decide to become a consultant?

I actually consider myself an advocate first and an Educational/Therapeutic Consultant second. I started off as a Grief Counselor at the Hospice supporting children who had experienced death in their lives. 

Then I moved into the Juvenile Justice System thinking I could make a difference. The system is so broken that I soon realized that I didn’t have any way to make a lasting difference. From there I started advocating for children on IEP’s and assisting with needed services.  My daughter was on an IEP and I had been advocating for her for several years. That is where I first became introduced to out-of-district placements. I went to visit these programs and schools. In 1998 there were only a few programs that were being recommended. Upon traveling to visit these programs and ultimately using the Internet to research others, I discovered there were hundreds of program and schools all across the US. In 2000 my own teenage daughter was struggling with anxiety, depression, and on the edge of an eating disorder. I hired a local educational consultant and a wonderful experience. My daughter entered treat in 2001. My educational consultant advocated for my daughter in her treatment program and became my mentor for a few years and from there I just advanced my business into what it is today.

How long have you been consulting?

I “officially” started consulting on February 10, 2001, the day I took on the title and ordered my first business cards and launched my first website. Training is ongoing.

What is your education and training background?

My doctorate degree is in Human Development with an emphasis in Diverse Families. I have a Masters Degree in Child and Family Studies. My focus in that area is on children, youth, and families.

My philosophical orientation:

I recognize the need to think clearly about what I am doing with each family and client. It is not a one size fits all situation. When I am working with a client and their family the goal is to help them look at what they are currently doing given the current situation and to see what is working and what is not working.

The most important focus for me in treating the  diverse group of adolescents, teens and young adults I assist, is to better understand the process of their life up to the point when they have contacted me. This involves a better understanding of what has occurred from birth, and at times in-utero (especially for those who are adopted) up to where we are today. I feel I am able to reflect deeply upon the experience of what my client has had going on in their life.

My ongoing training includes: 

ATSA (The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers ) Mentoring Program 2015


Children of Trauma and those with Special Needs, 2014


Eating Disorder Treatment at the Core, 2013


American Bar Association Forensic Workshop 2010


Love & Logic, Parenting with Love & Logic Training, 2009, 2010


Drug & Alcohol Treatment Education, Coaching Parents of Challenging Teens, 2009


Adolescent Sexual Behavior Problems, Identification of Risk Factors, 2008


Court Appointed Advocacy Training, 2008


Drug & Alcohol Treatment Education, Trauma and the Adolescent Client, 2008


Meth Action Coalition Training, 2007


Hospice of the Monterey Peninsula Patient and Family, Adult Bereavement, and Children’s Bereavement 2004


Child Custody Mediation Training, 2003


Wrap Around Full Training and Certification, 2002


Resource Realizations Family Resource Coaching – Self-Discovery, 2001


How do you view the consultant’s role in working with a family whose teen is in crisis?

It truly can be different for every family based on the age of the child, teen or young adult. At times I am there to assist with a type of needed intervention. In the beginning my role is to gather history about the family, parents and child. Then I look at what has been taking place and how they got to where they are today. I look at the strengths of the situation and the weaknesses and decide on the best strategy for each family. I find out what the family knows about working with a consultant and what they know about programs. From there I can start to make a plan of recommendations for next steps. For some families it is just one step. For others it may be two and still others three or four. If there is a legal situation I take that into account. When hospitalization is needed that takes us in another direction. My role is one of compassionate support, dedicated to the best outcome and finding out the root of the situation at hand so that is a one time stop on my doorstep with long last results.

How do you assess what’s going on in the family situation?

I start with an in-depth profile of the entire family. I have them write down as much as they can or want to.  Some write almost nothing and others write volumes. I then have a call with them and we go through everything. It can take 30 minutes or it can take 3 hours. Whatever is needed to find the root of the situation. 

How does the parent know if the consultant is a good fit?  And the consultant knows if the client is a good fit?

Parents need to ask a lot of questions when interviewing consultants. Some just ask how much they charge and go with the least expensive. Unfortunately, I have clients who I see that have already been to one or two other consultants. Parents need to ask about the consultant’s level of education and training, how many programs and schools they have visited, and if they just visit the admissions department or stay on campus or in the field and do a thorough evaluation of the program and meet all the staff, including night staff? Do they ask for background checks and state licensing board checks? When do they meet the student? How long have they been in business? Do they guarantee admission to a school, or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.) How do they keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures? Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis? 

Do they ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!) Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services the consultant will receive for those fees? Does the consultant adhere to the ethical guidelines and what are they? What associations does the consultant belong to and involve themselves with on a regular basis?

I refer very few families to other consultants. Those I do refer are parents who are belligerent and do not show respect, are disrespectful of my time boundaries (and I am very gracious with my time), will not look at their own part of what is happening with their child and are all about blaming their child for everything, and want to send their child away until they are 18. I want to assist parents / families who are involved, will take on parent coaching and address the whole picture and not just that of the behaviors that are currently causing the crisis. 

What do you consider your expertise?

I specialize in adoption, children with attachment disorders, and children /teens with sexually inappropriate behaviors. In some of these cases I will be hired to engage in forensic work and dig deeper than most people to discover many facts about the case at hand.  Over the years my practice has grown and I am well known for dealing with the most complicated and difficult cases of things that can happen within a family. I work with children who cut extensively, children who are addicts before they are teens, teens who are abusive to their parents, and behaviors that go way beyond the normal teenage acting out.

What types of clients do you work with?

I assist children as young as 5 and have older clients up to age 68. I assist PIC (Professionals in Crisis) about five times a year.  

I assist troubled teens at risk, children with attachment disorders, drug and alcohol challenges, learning challenges, children on the spectrum, transitional living for young adults, those with eating disorders, some legal situations (taken on a case by case basis), high risk behavioral situations that are not of the norm (kleptomania, sociopath, etc.). 

Describe the process of your involvement once you begin to work with a client and their family, assuming the client goes to wilderness, residential treatment, and transition or after-care.

I am a hands on person. I let families know this up front. I stay connected to the program / school throughout the child’s stay (as long as the family wants to keep me on board for that length of time), speaking with academic directors, counselors, recreation directors, family support personnel, etc.

My intention is to make sure that the treatment plan we have in place is working. I support the family as well as the child. Some families like a lot of support and others need less support. I build it to what their needs may be. Each family is uniquely different. There is no one size fits all. Some families I stay on board for my minimum of 90 days. I have other families I have been assisting for 3+ years. 


If I were a parent looking to hire a consultant, what advice would you give me?

Entrusting the care of your child to someone is a big decision, both emotionally and financially. You are asking them to advise and recommend others (programs, schools) who will be assisting your child and that is a big responsibility. You are also paying for a professional service and you need to believe in what and whom you are investing. This is potentially a long-term relationship. I advise you to have a personal meeting or phone call and have an hour to ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable. It is very important that we can all work together on behalf of the child. There needs to be a level of comfort and trust. You need to feel this is the right person for you and the right person for your child. Take time to explore and speak with several consultants when that is your need. Ask for references. Don’t feel pressured and when you do, that is a red flag. Statements like “Oh, your child is going to end up dead if you don’t get help right now!” is completely inappropriate. 

You have personal and professional experience with adoption related issues. Can you say more about how you bring that awareness into your work with adopted clients and their families?

I am adopted myself, so it has always been an area of interest. I have spent and continue to spend years researching many different areas of adopted children. I share my research with programs and families and am currently networking with a few others professionals to bring some smaller conferences of availability to families and professionals about our research. When families wish to go deeper, I offer forensic work services, in some cases even researching the orphanage where they were adopted from, especially internationally. I maintain a lot of contacts and have expert forensic interview techniques when working with biological families to uncover more than what was originally known. 

There are different parenting strategies for adopted children that work better that other parenting strategies such as Corrective Attachment Parenting or Therapeutic Parenting. I share that with my families, when they are interested. 

You offer parent coaching to your clients. Can you describe that service?

Horizon Family Solutions offers individually tailored parent coaching, designed to meet the specific intricacies and goals of the client and their family. Coaches walk beside clients on this journey, providing insight, feedback, and support, coupled with therapeutic assignments, readings, and comprehensive wrap-around services.

Parent coaching emphasizes parental effectiveness, communication style, introspection, and problem solving. This approach to family work directs therapeutic progress to the parents of the family, deepening awareness of current parenting styles and addressing potential for growth. Our parent coaching is a comprehensive program, suitable for families with teens or adolescents residing in the home, in therapeutic treatment, or transitioning back into the home environment. 3-6-9-12 month options are available.