Options for At-risk Children

The face of adolescent treatment has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Most hospital-based, long-term residential programs have closed, leaving only their acute units where an out-of-control or actively self-destructive child can go for a few days, be stabilized, and sent home. The early, lengthier stays have been replaced by a constantly changing, still rapidly growing group of therapeutic boarding schools, programs and wilderness experiences, some of which offer extremely sophisticated intervention and care.

Mason Associates can effectively handle your child’s transition to the most appropriate school, program or treatment, including:

Twenty years ago there were very few non-medical-model accredited therapeutic schools or wilderness programs. Today, membership in The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) approaches 150 institutions. More than an equal number are not yet members of that organization.


continuum of residential care chart


Unfortunately, this explosion of placement options has created its own problems: program quality varies widely; some facilities have unacceptably high staff turnover; schools are bought and sold without warning; and ethical, professional and safety standards may seem highly subjective.


elements of residential care chart


Finally, an almost unbelievable array of non-traditional, alternative, offbeat or "out-of-the-box" treatment options can be Googled for almost any situation, diagnosis or maladaptive behavior. Some have been proven to be effective, others may be downright quackery or even unsafe. Qualified consultants are very careful about recommending them.

Here is where an experienced, specialized, objective advisor such as Mason Associates can add tremendous value.

As parents and their advisors struggle to evaluate the welter of choices available to the child, the cost of an expert consultant is a small price to pay to keep one's child out of an ineffective, or possibly even dangerous, facility. We believe it is folly to make an expensive, life-changing placement decision on the basis of an Internet pop-up, a neighbor's casual recommendation, or something heard in the media. As in so many other areas of life, when you have a serious problem - legal, medical, financial, etc. - you hire the absolute best person you can find for that job. Your child's future will depend on it.

Mason Associates' process for helping parents sort among treatment options is influenced by the etiology and severity of each child's situation. We prefer to engage in a deliberative planning process that ideally includes parents and their advisors, teachers, therapists, counselors, physicians and other appropriate persons. If an IEP or educational/psychological testing is available, that also must be factored in.

Sometimes the child already is out of the home at a hospital, in wilderness, or other institutional setting. Here again we need to engage the child's immediate caregivers in the placement planning process.

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