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Glossary of Terms

Professional Services
for Youth/Family

  • Therapists (MFTs)

    • For parents​

    • For our children

    • For our families

  • Psychologists​

  • Psychiatrists

  • Parent Coaches

Therapeutic Settings

  • Inpatient Programs

  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

  • Wilderness Therapy Programs

  • Residential Treatment Centers

  • Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Other Professional Services

  • Educational Advocates

  • Educational Consultants

  • Special Education Attorneys

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Child Find - Child find is a legal requirement for schools to identify children who have disabilities and need services. Child Find is part of a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which law protects the rights of students with disabilities. The state (represented by by the local school district) must identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities in the state who need special education and related services.

Educational Consultant - Educational consultants provide counseling and guidance for parents by matching teens and young adults with wilderness programs and treatment centers. They are familiar with various schools and programs around the country and can recommend appropriate residential placements for students based on behavioral goals and special needs.

Educational Advocates / Special Needs Advocates - Special needs advocates provide services to students and families to get the education that they are entitled to by law. They attend IEP meetings with parents, and play a key role in helping students get the services they need. The consultants can identify reasonable academic targets for students and help determine what students need in order to succeed in school. They are familiar with the IEP process and "lingo", and are an advocate for your child.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - A Free Appropriate Public Education means that the child with disabilities will receive the same education as a child without disability or handicap. FAPE can be achieved by giving the child special services, usually written in an IEP.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) - An IEP lays out the special education instruction, supports, and services a student needs to make appropriate progress in school. As required by IDEA,  an IEP must contain a statement of measurable annual goals, which includes functional goals as well as academic goals. The school must provide a description of how it will measure progress toward meeting the annual goals and when it will provide progress reports to parents. If these goals are best met in a non-public school or RTC setting, the school district can fund the child's education as part of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education).

Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) - A federal law that makes available a free appropriate public  education (FAPE) to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.

Inpatient Treatment - Inpatient treatment refers to 24-hour care in a secure unit of a treatment facility or hospital. This treatment option is best for those with severe mental health issues, who need constant monitoring for the sake of their own safety and well-being. The main goal of inpatient treatment is to stabilize symptoms while developing a continuing treatment plan so that the patients can receive the care that they need in a less intensive setting. Inpatient treatment programs are generally short-term, usually ranging from a few days to a week.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) - Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are treatment programs used to address addictions, depression, eating disorders, or other dependencies that do not require participants to live at the facility, as inpatient programs do. IOPs enable patients to continue with their normal, day-to-day lives, and visit the treatment center for a few hours at a time, several days a week (for example, several hours weekday mornings or evenings).  IOPs consist mainly of group therapy, though some offer some individual counseling.

Parent Coaching -  Parent coaching is when one or both parents (or any caregiver) meet with a professional coach for support in navigating their child's specialized mental health and development needs. The parent coach can use psychoeducation about the child's needs and/or diagnosis, offer parenting strategies, and suggest positive communication to improve familial relationships. This form of coaching carries an implicit larger goal of re-establishing positive family relationships.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) - PHPs (or "day programs") provide intensive treatment for behavioral health issues without requiring an overnight stay. They offer more time in a treatment than a standard outpatient program and are a step down from 24-hour care in a psychiatric hospital setting (inpatient treatment). This structured program generally offers 5-6 hours of group therapy and skill building each day, along with individual therapy and medication management. Programs typically run from 3-6 weeks.

Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - RTCs provide intensive help for youth with serious emotional and behavioral problems. Residential treatment can help children and adolescents whose health is at risk while living in their community. The programs are helpful for those who have not responded to outpatient treatments, who have education needs that cannot be met in less restrictive settings at their local schools, or who are in need of further intensive treatment following inpatient psychiatric care. The minimum length of stay at an RTC is typically one year, and often longer. 

Special Education Attorney - A legal professional who represents you in a dispute with a school, often regarding ineligible or insufficient IEPs. Provides legal advice and prepares legal complaints and papers.

Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS) - A residential school offering therapy for students with emotional or behavioral issues. Generally considered less therapeutically intensive than an RTC, with a slightly lower staff to student ratio.

Transition Services - Transition services refer to the structure and services that youth ad family receive when youth return home from residential treatment or inpatient programs. These services are ideally set up before the youth returns home, and are intended to help sustain the gains that the youth made outside the home. Transition services include wraparound services, a home agreement that is co-constructed and tailored to the family, and an aftercare plan based on input from parents, youth, the treatment program and other professionals.

Wilderness Program / Wilderness Therapy - Wilderness therapy is a mental health treatment strategy for adolescents struggling with a variety of mental health diagnoses, behavioral problems, development issues, learning disabilities, school problems and relational difficulties. Wilderness programs combine therapy with challenge experiences in an outdoor wilderness environment. The typical stay at a wilderness program is three months.

Wraparound Services - Wraparound services provide community-based, professional and natural support and services to "wrap around" the youth and their family in their home, school and community. The team develops a plan of supports and services (e.g. therapists, family, friends, etc.) to help the youth and family, with the youth and family at the center of the wraparound. The planning process is comprehensive, looking at all areas of a family's life, holistic and individualized, specific to each youth and family. 

5150 - A 5150 refers to the number of the section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which allows a person with a mental challenge to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. A person on a 5150 can be held in the psychiatric hospital against their will for up to 72 hours, if they meet at least one of three basic criteria: they are 1) a danger to others, 2) a danger to self, or 3) gravely disabled as a result of a mental challenge. This does not mean that they will necessarily be held the entire 72 hours; it means that psychiatric hospitals have the legal right to do so if determined to be necessary.

5250 - A 5250 is a 14-day extension of the involuntary hold. As with the 5150, the hospital may or may not hold someone for the entire 14 days.

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