Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if I should attend a Willows meeting?
A: If you have a teen or young adult struggling with a behavioral and/or mental health issue and you are feeling stressed, alone or uncertain about what to do, please consider coming to a support group. These meetings are confidential, and you can learn about resources and share your story with others who understand.
Q: How do I know if––or when––it is time to seek a higher level of care?
A: Our first responsibility as parents is to keep our children safe. When your child will not allow you to parent them and trust has been broken, you may need to seek local interventions or a higher level of care outside the home. As parents, we need to ask ourselves: Will my child receive the level of care and guidance that she/he/they need to stay safe, stabilize, and mature under our care at home? When you can no longer protect your teen, you may need to explore out-of-home care.
Q: What if I don't want to send my child to a residential treatment program?
A: Sending a child to a treatment program should always be the last step. If you are not considering out-of-home placement, you can still attend Willows meetings and receive support from other parents. At Willows, parents will learn about local resources such as IOP and PHP programs as well as therapists and local support groups.
Q: Doesn't placing my child in a residential program mean I've failed as a parent?
A: This is not about bad or failed parenting. The decision to place your child in out-of-home treatment can be very challenging but also courageous. All of us want to keep our children at home, and some parents manage to do this with local support. However, every family is different. For some families, an out-of-home placement may actually be the best choice and is not about failed parenting—it’s about advocating for your child and your family’s needs.
Q. What is an Independent Educational Consultant? Do I need one? How do I find one? How much do their services cost?
A: An independent therapeutic Educational Consultant assists parents/guardians in considering appropriate schools/programs. If your family is in immediate crisis, an educational consultant may save time in determining what type of program is best for your child and where there is space availability. A consultant may also save costs in the long run if, for example, a family chooses a program that is not optimal and subsequently needs to move the child. Ed Consultant fees vary.
For further information, please look at Independent Educational Consultants Association: https://www.iecaonline.com/quick-links/parents-students/
Q. What if I can’t afford an Educational Consultant?
A: Some families do not use educational consultants and have experienced successful placements. They may find the cost of Ed Consultant prohibitive or have other reasons for placing their child themselves. Many of these families use a school district’s list of residential placement offerings or they use a program provided by their health insurance, especially for local placements in short-term care.
Q. How do I know if the treatment program(s) recommended by my educational consultant are right for my child?
A: Ask the consultant many questions as to how each program makes sense for your specific situation/child/family, and make sure that you are comfortable with the recommendation. Contact the programs directly to get to know them better and visit if possible.
Here are some helpful questions to ask: https://www.allkindsoftherapy.com/blog/questions-to-guide-parentsguardians-when-touring-teen-residential-programs
Q. What types of treatment programs are there?
A: In general, there are short-term residential treatment programs (1-3 months), therapeutic wilderness programs (typically ~ 3 months), and long-term residential treatment programs (typically 9-16 months). Therapeutic wilderness programs are often used to stabilize and evaluate students, some who may return home afterwards, many who go on to long-term residential programs.
For more information about wilderness and longer term program, see: https://www.natsap.org/Public/For_Parents/Public/Parents/For_Parents.aspx?hkey=4918e5ad-96f7-4c1a-b736-a92b2f43cea1
Q: What is the difference between a Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS) and a Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?
A: These two program types can be similar, yet they may also vary greatly in their offerings. In some cases, residential treatment programs provide a higher level of therapeutic programming and support than therapeutic boarding schools do. A TBS generally places more emphasis on academic programming. Distinctions between an RTC and a TBS may also depend upon the state they are located in, licensure or accreditation status, and most importantly details of the actual programming.
Q. How old are the students in the treatment programs?
A: Typically, programs range from teens ages 12 to 18 years old. Programs for children under 12 exist, yet are generally fewer in number. There are also many young adult programs that treat both behavioral and mental health issues as well as preparing young people for independent living.
Q. Are treatment programs expensive and will my health insurance pay for them?
A: Treatment programs can be very expensive, especially if you are paying out of pocket. Health insurance policies vary widely in terms of what is covered and how much is paid for. Some health insurance policies cover the majority of short-term residential treatment programs--those that are closer to home. Students’ health treatment records while at home will be needed to justify the request for longer term residential treatment, especially out-of-network or in other states. It may be helpful to speak with an insurance advocate if you have questions. Parents should also involve the school district whenever there might be a question about disability rights. Some school districts may pay for some treatments for students with mental health issues, until students finish high school or turn 21, whichever comes first.
Q. My child has just been placed in a residential program. What should I do now?
A: Your child and family are on the path to recovery. Many programs offer parent education to facilitate a parallel process so you may work alongside your child while they are in progin treatment. Stay engaged with the program as you work with your child’s and your family’s therapists and attend all the trainings offered when possible. Continue to ask questions and actively participate. Some parents also engage therapeutic support or a parent coach at home to work intensively on family and parenting issues.
Join support groups like Willows, Family Sanity or your local NAMI chapter. These groups will offer community and a chance to learn from other parents. Now is also a time to focus on your own health and wellness. The importance of self-care cannot be underestimated.
Q: When I sign up for Willows, what do you do with my email and other contact information?
A: This information is not shared outside of Willows. It is used solely for the purpose of being able to contact you and provide you will information about upcoming meetings and other related services.