How We Work

Young people face challenges unimagined by earlier generations, from the accelerating pace and complexity of technology and constant bombardment by social media, to widespread drug and alcohol abuse, confusion about values, and the negative influence of peers. At times, parents are called to intervene vigorously to ensure their son or daughter has a chance to grow up to live a whole and productive life.
Our mission is to help families effectively address vexing problems with pre-teens, teens, and young adults. We are problem-solving, solution-seeking consultants, familiar with the many available ways to address the challenges parents face with their particular struggling son or daughter. As educational consultants, our job is to listen, to absorb information, to gain insight, and to collaborate fully with parents in the quest for, and implementation of, the most promising and appropriate approaches to a wide range of concerns, such as:

ADD/ADHD/impulsivity
attention issues
low motivation
substance abuse
entitlement, blame, manipulation
computer and video game addiction
withdrawal, isolating
emotional and behavior problems
learning disabilities and differences
educational failure or rapid decline
lack of confidence
low self-esteem
defiance
depression
anxiety
autism spectrum disorders
school too easy, lack of challenge
high ability, low performance
failure to launch

If your family is in a crisis, we go to work at once to place the troubled young person in a safe, therapeutic setting outside the home. As the immediate turmoil passes, we help parents develop a long range plan. The need to intervene may arise from one or more serious issues:

running away
suicide attempt or threat
jail or juvenile detention
threat of violence to others
overdose or other substance abuse emergency
addiction and co-occuring issues
negative peer relations/gang involvement
rage or extreme defiance at home, school, or elsewhere
suspension/dismissal from school
severe depression or anxiety
sharp decline in school engagement, failing grades
refusal to get out of bed or go to school
eating disorders/psychiatric disorders
ADD/ADHD/severe impulsivity
sexual promiscuity, aggression, abuse

THE GREAT NEWS: Creative, Hopeful Options Are Available!

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There are hundreds of schools and programs for struggling pre-teens, teens, and young adults across the country, and their offerings vary widely. We regularly visit them— wilderness therapy programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, programs for substance abuse, mentoring programs, and character-building boarding schools—to identify safe and effective programs with high integrity  and compassion. This enables us to make informed recommendations based on the particular needs of each troubled student.

Seeing the Situation in Context

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We begin by meeting with parents and students, focusing on the student with genuine interest in his or her education and growth. We ask how things are going in school, in the family, and with friends, as well as where the student feels he or she is currently heading—short term and long term—and his or her aspirations for the future.

We then turn to parents’ own perceptions, concerns, and hopes, and discuss the student’s home, school, and social life. Parents write a narrative telling the story of their son or daughter, from early childhood to the present. This information is reviewed, along with school records—transcripts, test results, teacher comments, evaluations, and reports—and any records from therapists and other professionals.

The fast pace of modern life, the influence of the media, shifting values, lack of structure and sometimes chaos within the family, and other forces in our culture create special challenges for parents. In this context, parents with struggling sons and daughters of any age must become involved in the change process themselves. It’s not enough merely to seek treatment for the young person.

Unhealthy patterns within the family may have developed over a long period of time and will not disappear overnight. The healing process takes hard work and commitment on the part of each family member, especially each parent. Those who take this approach are far more likely to get a successful outcome.  This is why we recommend only those schools and programs which offer a family system focus.  Research shows there are three key factors that contribute to successful outcomes:

1.  Commitment of parents and family members to the healing process.
2.  Healthy structure in the home when the student leaves treatment.
3.  Effective aftercare support for both the student and the family.

As parents ourselves, we have deep compassion for parents who are struggling to understand and to help their son or daughter. We have been in their shoes.  We share our experience with our clients. We learn with you and from you. And we connect families with programs and schools where family involvement is central to the philosophy and practice.

Based on this research, short- and long-term goals are identified and a plan and tentative timeline are prepared. Drawing on our knowledge of available schools and programs, we propose several options, and assist with key questions to help make the best choice. We see that selected programs and schools provide information, help parents complete applications, set up interviews, and arrange for additional testing if needed. We may recommend:

traditional boarding school with support
therapeutic wilderness program
residential treatment center
therapeutic and emotional growth boarding school
life coaching
transitional program for young adults, 18 years and older

Educational consultants neither solicit nor accept compensation from any school or program for placement of a client.

Once a placement is made, we monitor the student’s progress and stay in close touch with parents. Throughout the student’s placement, we offer support and remain available to parents by phone or in person. We coach, we listen, and we encourage parents to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow through this process. The best schools and programs offer well-designed parent workshops.  There is no better way for parents to support the student than by seeking themselves to learn and to grow. We call it “the parallel process”.  Upon completion of the program, we offer parents follow-up coaching services through John Huie & Associates or we refer to other professional resources. It is critical that families sustain the healing process in specific and meaningful ways.  

Life Coaching

Focusing on problem solving and personal growth, we custom-design coaching programs for our clients’ specific needs. A coaching series can focus on the process of preparing to send a high-needs child for residential placement, on aftercare coaching when a student returns home from treatment, or simply on better communication and conflict resolution within the family.

While not a substitute for psychotherapy, life coaching does seek to identify and remove obstacles in the quest for better relationships and quality of life. The process requires honesty and openness to learning and change. Our approach is not about analyzing or judging. It’s about listening, asking questions, and identifying strengths. More important, it’s about setting clear goals, and evoking the will to achieve those goals.

In every case, awareness and responsibility are vital to the process. Greater awareness often leads to new perspectives and responsible choices, and lasting solutions can be achieved when individuals take responsibility for growth and healing. Coaching sessions may be conducted over the telephone, in the home of the client, or in one of our offices—in Asheville, Black Mountain, or Charlotte. Call us to explore these options.

“It is not easy in our culture today to find direction, purpose, and meaning. We live in fragmented times, and there are many ways to isolate, to turn off, to shut down, to escape. Our task is to see that every young person is challenged in ways that bring out the best within them so that they can discover they are better and stronger than they know.  If they discover this once, they will not likely ever again settle for less.”
—John Huie