This blog is dedicated to "The Children Left Behind." We will not rest until the safety of our children and those that are entrusted with their mental health care are held accountable for abusing the children's God given rights, those rights upheld by our constitution, and those that have been complicit in obfuscating the truth!

Thursday, January 2, 2014



For many families, by the time they end up at an educational consultant's office they have exhausted every community resource available, or they are emotionally exhausted because there is little, if any, community help for their child.  In many instances, they have exhausted their financial resources, too. This needs to change.  Change takes forever, time is of the essence, fear for your child takes over, and boom.  They have got you hook, line, and sinker.

You bought into the "Teen Help Industry," herein referred to as the "industry," you feel a weight has been lifted from your being as your child is 'safely' tucked away in a facility program. You sleep soundly for the first time in what seems ages; until, you receive "the call."

  • Your child cannot talk because their heavy sobs are incapacitating their speech.
  • You have a 15-minute, monitored telephone call with your child.
  • You think you heard your child say "there was blood everywhere, I had to walk through blood."
  • The monitor/counselor keeps interrupting.
  • You and your child's 15-minute telephone conversation is up.
  • You tell your child to put the counselor/monitor on the phone.
  • You affirm that you wish to speak with your child immediately, without monitoring, stating that the telephone conversation was inaudible as your child was near hysterics.
  • You are a zillion miles away, angst is rising, your pulse is rapid, you are ready to vomit, and the monitor/counselor that is less than half your age states, "it is against the rules."
  • You reiterate that you do not give a damn, "I want my child placed on the phone -  NOW!"
  • The monitor replies that they "must get permission from their supervisor."
  • While your child's sobs permeate, you lose it.  "Either put my child on the phone, take your body out of the room, or I will call the police."
  • BINGO!
Reality sinks in, you realize that your previous interrupted sleep patterns were a gift, sleepless nights return with a vengeance, and your real nightmare has just begun.

Your educational consultant will not return your call.  "But, they are a member of IECA."

Those that have not been inducted into this abhorrent "industry," and are  contemplating utilizing their offerings - this is for you.



"In the United States, educational consultants are not bound by any particular statutory rules for practitioners."  However, many professional organizations have established standards for professional consultants by which their members pledge to abide - in this case, IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association.)

In other words, to become an educational consultant requires no state licensing, no state oversight, certainly no academic degree, and absolutley no accountability.  In all fairness, there are educational consultants that have advanced degrees, whom are licensed or accredited psychologists, counselors, social workers, etc., that have branched out into this very lucrative world of  educational consulting for "at risk" teenagers and youth offenders.

What confounds the mind, is how an academic can justify sending children and youths to programs that utilize non-evidence based therapies, especially in wilderness boot camps.  The industry is more than willing to provide their "own research," which is beyond laughable. This is abominable.

The educational consultant community (IECA) has now embraced our Special Needs Children, which is apparently on their hit parade. More and more facilities,schools,and academies market and advertise themselves to Special Needs Children and their families.  Twenty or so years ago, the money-maker was the coming of age of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to follow, then ODD (Opposition Defiant Disorder). Addictions were a given.  Now the children and youth targeted are those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and of course "pill-poppers." All these diagnosis not only keep the pharmaceutical companies euphoric, but the educational consultants and the programs to which they refer to, are running with it.

More alarming are school/academy/facility programs that appear to be on the rise and market for adjudicated youth deemed sexual predators, or those with sexual addictions.  In lieu of jail, (hearts go out to those victims who were offended and both families) youth sexual offenders are placed in facility programs, often with the help of an educational consultant and attorney. Once these offenders start "grooming" or offend at one of these facility programs, they are moved to another facility that will accept them.  Herein lies the problem.  If, as has happened, the offenders are accepted into an unethical facility  (Therapeutic Boarding School, Wilderness, etc.) for the bang of the buck and commingled with Special Needs Children, it is a proven recipe for disaster - a human toll, a tragedy that could have been prevented. Most offenses are kept in-house, never to be reported by the facility or educational consultant. If you expect that an educational consultant would divulge this, your naivety needs a reality check.

Perhaps educational consultants do not know what a "mandated" reporter's responsibility is, not to mention their lack of ethical standards. 

One important aspect of the educational consultant's success is their keen ability to market themselves to clients.  In addition, they must establish connections, a network with their brethren and the facilities where they attempt to place children.  One palm simply greases the other.  Those educational consultants that do speak out  are ostracized, hung, quartered, and black-balled.

  • Parental trust, blind faith, and fear will be quite palatable to the educational consultant.

All glorious and picture perfect to induce, until you:
  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK:  Educate yourself.  The Internet affords access to most everything.
  • Review your educational consultant's qualifications through state licensing boards for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc.  They may not need to be licensed as an educational consultant, but if they present one of the above "shingles" they should be licensed by the state.
  • Search the Internet for complaints.  Weigh them, without input from the educational consultant.  "Reputation Defender," although good, cannot expunge everything.  You may be under stress, wrought with worry, but you are not inept.
  • Do not accept phone numbers of previous clients as proof of merit, ethics, and success for obvious reasons.
  • If the educational consultant touts that they are a member of their own association, IECA, take it with a grain of salt, along with other nuances.  To be a member of IECA, one must pay their dues and then complain about IECA.
  • If the educational consultant taps a NATSAP ( National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs) program - run.  NATSAP is useless.
  • Ask the educational consultant for the names of facility programs to which they have referred clients.  Browse the Internet checking for complaints, news reports, previous and current lawsuits.
  • Call the local sheriff's office and inquire as to how many 911 calls were placed to the department from the facility program the educational consultant is recommending. 911 call logs from children,  parents, staff, DFCS, or other state agencies are public information and may be requested.
  • Check with the state's Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health, or similar state agency to find out if there is oversight of the recommended facility, if the facility is licensed by the state, and whether incident reports are available.  Do not take any one's word.  Licensing is only effective if the state supports their own regulations.  State agencies often funnel children and youths into these programs, so they will not cut off the hand that feeds them.
  • Remember, as in other markets, industry-wide "friendships' and compensation all too often obscures the ability to be truthful.
After all this, it is still a "crap-shoot." The odds are not favorable. You are the fish treading in dark unnatural, uncharted waters. The "bait" is well-positioned.

  • Emotionally distressed, seeking a safe environment for ones child, devastation - a quite lucrative bounty.
  • Never place your child in any program where there is no outside access.
  • Never place your child in a program where their telephone calls and mail is monitored to and from the parent.  No matter what is dreamt up to console you about this program policy, this is for containment only and dangerous.
  • If the program stipulates the children lie and manipulate as an answer to your concerns - run.  You alone know your child and when they are fabricating.  Look into your child's eyes, their heart, and you will have your answer.
  • If the educational consultant recommends a facility/school/academy in Costa Rica or overseas - run.
  • Never place your child in a facility program where the medication is not dispensed by an R.N.
  • If the educational consultant states that they have visited the facility program, remember, these facilities put forth their best behavior creating a facade.  The same facade would apply to a parent visit or state agency visit.  No educational consultant has witnessed a child hanging from a tree or had to walk through a blood-drenched dorm floor from a suicide attempt.  If the educational consultant witnessed inexcusable therapy sessions, you will not be advised.
  • Under no circumstances sign a contract absolving the educational consultant of liability.
  • Ask the educational consultant if they are mandatory reporters regarding incidents they are privy to at the the programs to which they refer.
  • Ask the educational consultant if they receive compensation from the facility program to which they refer.
  • If any individual markets himself/herself as a "parent advocate" and refers children and youths to one of these facilities/programs - sprint.  Chances are they receive compensation on both ends - one is unethical, known as "kick-backs."
  • Know that the marketing of these facility programs intentionally affords a vision of therapy and continuing a child's education (another lure) under one roof. Look at it as a one-stop drop-off service to 'fix' any anomaly known to teen-kind. 

If an educational consultant did their homework and was ethical, they would have already thoroughly vetted the facility/program;  history has shown this is not the case.
History has also shown their disclosure to be less than forthcoming.
  • Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, doctors, etc., those that claim to be licensed, accredited, and affiliated with the program - check their references within the state, which can be found at state licensing boards and the state's Department of Education. Seek out those professionals that are no longer affiliated with the facility/school/academy.  What they have to say may just shock you.
  • Special Needs Children - Check the facility program's capabilities, accreditation (which appears to mean nothing these days) of their Special Needs Educational Program, counseling, and the credentials of those individuals to whom you are entrusting your child into their care.
  • Again, check with the state's Department of Human Services or similar to find out if there is oversight of the recommended facility, if it is licensed by the state, and whether incident reports are accessible. Do they follow through with mandatory reporting, accountability, or just shelve a report , and not prosecute. 
  • Never place your child in a facility program that does not show proof of insurance for fraud, negligence,abuse, accident, and professional liability. Check the state statutes for fraud.
  • Do not fall prey to paying advanced tuition for a discount or otherwise. Do not pay deposits unless the deposit is held in escrow. Read the fine print.  Have a contract attorney read the contract. Check the state statutes regarding a facility/program that has a "rolling enrollment" which allows for the lawful return of deposits and tuition.
  • It is imperative that you out-source any psychological testing, free from the program to ensure there is no scam, double-dipping or program surcharge, so that the testing is completed as paid for by a licensed, ethical psychiatrist, or psychologist that is in no way affiliated or compensated by the facility program.  In addition, as despicable as it is, those affiliated with programs have been asked to change diagnosis to make the child/youth acceptable to the program offered.
  • Enrollment statistics  - Ask for the number of clients that do not complete the program.  You will not get the truth.
  • Under no circumstances place your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder(s) in a wilderness program.
  • Under no circumstances send your child from a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) to a Therapeutic Boarding School or a Wilderness program that purports to be a Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) or Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF).  The states will have a listing of licensed RTF's, PRTF's, and other mental health facilities.
  • Internet search - Again, there is a plethora of information available.  Search complaints and lawsuits.
The above is nowhere near a "fail-safe." 


  • Does the facility program commingle children with DJJ youth placements, DFCS state placements through waivers (facility is not fully vetted or licensed) or otherwise, in-state or out-of-state youth that are court-ordered or more important adjudicated to placement in lieu of jail, with private pay placements including Special Needs Children.
  • Does the facility program commingle children that are victims of sexual assaults with youth that are adjudicated sexual predators?  Groomers?

You are totally disillusioned and disgusted.  Your child deserves help within your community and under your watch, but there is little help, if any.  Most psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, pediatricians, teachers, judges, attorneys, etc., have not been educated in the fraud, abuse, and neglect associated within this industry.

These are the sad facts with the only remedy lying within the communities themselves, so that out-sourcing of our young to these abusive, fraudulent facility programs becomes a blemish on our history. 

You may be thinking, "are you out of your mind?"  "How can I do all this?"
The important question is, "how can you not?" 

Be your child's advocate and their solace.  Your "bounty" is your humanity.  Do not strip your child of theirs. 


It is not perfect, but it is all we have.  Partisanship has no place where the well-being and life of any child is concerned.

And that's my take.
Jillie Ryan
"For the Children Left Behind" and those to come.

Other resources:

Those ethical academia and foundations that are in support of H.R. 1981 appear far more appealing, although in the novice stage of truly understanding this horrific, multi-billion-dollar industry, than paper pushers and corporate lobbyists of abuse.

Although this is for the State of Virginia, licenses and certifications may be looked up nationwide:

Copyright © 2013 Jilliestake - All rights reserved.


  1. Fantastic post, Jillie. I've posted it to reddit & facebook, and added it to our list of resources for parents:

    Great work, thanks for putting this together.

  2. Distressed AmericanApril 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Good reading for all parents and those who care about our future, which is our kids.

    Thanks for putting this all together. The suffering of your child, your family, and yourself endure, helps society when you get this out to the world.

  3. I would like to add, as someone who attended one of these facilities in the 80's that back then they did not use any actual psychologists or therapists. The staff tended to be high school grads or even dropouts, and an occasional staff might have held a degree in liberal arts.

    Later, in the 90's, as lawsuits began, programs started hiring a licensed psychologist, but generally only one, and this person was located off-campus. Maybe once a month your child would get sent, along with probably a dozen other students, to see the psychologist who would make recommendations that obviously would align with the program. The children would then return to a program run by unlicensed, untrained staff for the remaining of the month.

    Each program usually has a one-size-fits-all method, and nothing that psychologist says or does will change what your child experiences. There is also, quite often, a cult of personality centered on the founder, and in many cases this founder simply worked at a program long enough to figure out it is a huge moneymaker, and then started their own residential treatment program, etc.

    In my day, the head cook became power staff, eventually marrying into the family of the founder. Many kitchen staff were promoted to staff, dishing out psychotherapy to students. Bounty hunters whom parents hire to escort their children to these programs would branch off to start their own programs. We had a lumberjack go from staff to power staff to running his own facility. We saw staff turn bounty hunters. None had any qualifications to do any of this work. And today, many of them are still in the industry.

    And they feed off each other. As long as you know the people involved, you can get beds filled at your new program, or get referrals for bounty hunting work. Lose a job here, get hired over there. This is very incestuous industry.

  4. Jillie presents a view that removing a child from home and sending him/her to wilderness therapy or therapeutic boarding school (TBS) is a big mistake. I disagree. My son went to wilderness in Georgia and says "it was the best experience of my life". He is currently in TBS and continues to make progress on the emotional issues that disrupted his life and that of his family members. Keeping him in his old environment (our local town) would not have created a setting that was conducive to change. At age 17, he needed to make a lot of changes and was running out of time to make them. Already in trouble with the law, our son would have continued on the same track and gotten into real trouble at age 18.

    Jillie - this is a test to you. Do you permit the opposing view to be voiced on your site, or will you purge my post? I agree that any industry can have problems. Much of the bad stories you read on the internet are based on what happened ten or more years ago before many of the facilities adopted proper clinical practices for helping these kids.

  5. Pardon me if I'm wrong, but you sound more like a shill than I a parent. Bad stories have been consistent and have increased with access to the internet.

    Parents are free to choose the option that feels right for them, but they should have accurate information when doing so. Jillie does an excellent job of providing concerns for parents to consider.

    If you are a parent, I hope your son is getting real help. My personal experience - with 2 people close to me attending programs- is this:
    One died needlessly in a Wilderness program when he was made to sit in 100+* temps because the staff believed he was faking.
    The other attended wilderness and a TBS for two years. Did not take drugs before attending. Developed substance issues post program and had to employ a therapist to undo the abusive brainwashing he endured at the TBS.

    Odds are good that your son may be learning how to 'act' as told to. After all, this is the 'Teen Behavior Modification' industry. The majority (perhaps all) do not use evidence-based therapeutic techniques. Many teens have had worse issues post-program and/or committed suicide.

    It is extremely important that parents do due diligence, and if at all possible, find local services that will work with the whole family. That is how real change happens.

    Jillie, unfortunately, the ICPC no longer applies to programs and mental health facilities due to the efforts of Robin Arnold-Williams. Not that it was even employed to any significant degree.

  6. First, I am not a shill; I post under my real name.

    Second, thank you Jillie for allowing an alternative point of view to be expressed.

    For any parent dealing with a child in trouble, there are no easy answers. In the end, we all want our child to grow up safely, develop good character, and be able to lead a productive life as an adult. When your child takes a bad turn (or a series of bad turns) while still in high school, what do you do?

    Here is my experience. First, my wife and I worked with the high school and their counselors. Then we got our son counseling with a local PhD therapist. We tried to stay connected with him at home. With all this, his trajectory accelerated in the wrong direction.

    My wife arrived at the conclusion sooner than I did that we had to change the setting if our son stood a chance to make positive changes. The school counselor suggested that we send him to live out of the area with a relative, but this suggestion was self-serving – just a way to get his case off her list.

    After much angst on my part, I agreed with my wife that we needed to send him away to get the kind of help that he was not getting at the local high school. He needed to get away from the kids who hung out after school at the convenience store and experimented with new drugs. He needed a wakeup call that would never be heard at home.

    The day he left home was the most painful day of my life. No parent sends a child to wilderness or TBS without similar feelings. "Anonymous" does not indicate if he/she is a parent, but references a death in a WTP to a person close to him/her. Is “Anonymous” aware of any drug related deaths in the local community? Yes, there have been deaths in wilderness therapy or boot camp programs, but there are thousands of teen deaths each year from drug overdoses. Any teen death is a terrible loss, but parents need to weigh the risks of letting a teen progress into addictive drugs like heroine and risk death by OD vs. placing a child in a setting where there are no drugs.

    The point of my original posting is that there are good WTP and TBS programs that can help troubled teens. My son had an amazing counselor in the wilderness that helped him start the process of self-examination which is a prerequisite to fundamental change. At TBS, he has another great counselor who is helping him build on the work he started in the wilderness. Change does not happen quickly, and there is no guarantee from any program that change will be permanent. It has taken me months of struggle to understand that in the end, my son will decide for himself which way to go in life. Is he being brainwashed at TBS, or was he brainwashed at the convenience store by kids who modeled behavior that drugs were cool and a ticket to acceptance? As a parent, I had to choose.

    Anyone reading this far either has an axe to grind or is looking for help in deciding if WT or TBS has validity in helping a troubled teen. I found the Wikipedia article on “wilderness therapy” to present a good description of wilderness therapy and a comparison to boot camps. It says:
    “One of the major differences between boot camps and wilderness therapy is the underlying philosophical assumptions (wilderness therapy being driven by the philosophy of experiential education and theories of psychology and boot camps being informed by a military model). Additionally, most wilderness therapy programs have highly trained clinical staff either on the expedition or in active and ongoing consultation with the team. Boot camps may have no clinically trained staff working in the programs.”

    I agree with “Anonymous” who says “it is extremely important that parents do due diligence”. Our point of disagreement is that I feel local services are not always up to the job of making “real change happen”. Not having my son at home has been an incredible loss. I have accepted this temporary loss as a tradeoff to the real possibility of not having him at home in the future because of drug use or jail.

  7. Every parent considering a placement in a Wilderness, TBS, or RTC should watch all the videos of Sen George Miller's congressional hearing on the industry.
    Positive change in the industry appears to be lip service, as reports continue to come in citing abuse, neglect, needless injury and death. Yes, one should weigh the odds, very carefully. About 175 children have lost their lives. And everyone of them could've been prevented. That does not include the untold number of suicide and drug deaths, post-program.

    The Congressional Hearing Videos begin here:



  10. I just don't understand how so many believe that isolation and torment if not down right sadistic abuse can be beneficial for a child.
    The use of kidnappers (teen transporters) is appalling and must be made illegal like in every other civilized country. How could you do that to your child ?
    This level of institutional child abuse is America is truly a stain on it's human rights record.
    Brutality just doesn't work and needs to be stopped.