Educational Consulting Blog

Who needs a consultant with the Internet’s information at our fingertips?

Posted by Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., CEP on Tue, Aug 19, 2014


biting computerIt is truly amazing to put a word or phrase into Google and get all of the information that one could possibly need! Really? The biggest question is:  Do we actually have all of the information by doing a search online for specialized programs and schools for our children? The answer is a resounding NO!!! But why?

The advent of the Internet has in some ways hindered a person’s ability to navigate the world of specialized schools and programs. Much of the online information can be accurate such as location, number of students, accreditation, etc., but obviously this information is written to market the school or program, not to render professional opinions on the best fit or in other words what type of student, be it child, adolescent, or young adult, would thrive there? They can list the profile of the students they want, but is it a good place for them to move forward in their academic and therapeutic growth?

Is it possible for a great consultant with an excellent reputation to recommend a place for your child that has a terrible write up online? Absolutely! Every company has had a disgruntled employee who perhaps was fired or not rehired, who has an axe to grind and in retaliation writes some horrific lies about the school or program that has been recommended! They also may have poor write-ups from students who were dismissed and want the school to suffer. But how do you know the difference: what is the truth, and what is not? The information out there (both good and bad) should not be dismissed, but how do you know what is from a disgruntled parent, student, or past employee and what is the truth?

The answer is to engage the services of a consultant who does his/her due diligence by visiting often. At the Goldberg Center, Josh and Leslie are visiting and revisiting programs a minimum of two weeks out of every month. Why? We visit our clients who are at each one and get an upfront and personal view of how they are REALLY doing. If we have no clients at a particular program, either because it is new, or they have new ownership, or we didn’t have a good visit the last time around, or our students have graduated, or they have such a particular type of diagnosis that we don’t see it often enough to always have someone there, it is just as important to keep up on every specialized program on a regular basis. This way if a parent has read something online, good or bad, we can respond with a comment that is backed up by truth not hearsay. Are they using best practices? Are they sustainable? Are all of the students safe, thriving, and moving toward a more mainstream educational setting? Our goal for each and every student is for him/her to graduate and move on toward the most independent life every child and young adult can have and that each and every one of our clients can find joy and success in their lives.

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, education trends, educational consultants, educational consulting profession, schools for troubled teens, outcomes, specialized educational consulting, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, troubled teen, ld schools

It's a matter of time...

Posted by Joshua C. Doyle, M.Ed. on Mon, Jun 16, 2014

It’s a matter of time…

In my former life as an admissions director, we had accepted Alex into our program for September.  Alex’s parents were concerned that he had no summer plans and had been “experimenting” with alcohol and possibly drugs.  Rather than act they decided to give him the summer to “snap out of it”, only to find that when September rolled around, he was no longer eligible for admission as his behaviors had escalated to the point where the program could no longer meet his needs.  In just a short time, the best laid plans had fallen to pieces. The family was left not knowing where to turn, but knowing that they had missed out on an amazing opportunity.

Time, what does it mean?  Well, the meaning of time is quite different for the adolescent/young adult from what it is for an adult.  As we head into summer it is sometimes the case that parents of troubled teens want to give them the summer to wait and see what happens. Putting the burden on a struggling teen to “snap out of it” when his or her development is being hindered can only exacerbate the problem.

So, what’s the worst that can happen in three months?  As an adult we can and do cope with major life crisis and forge our way through with the skill set we have created over time.  An adolescent/young adult can be led astray by things such as depression, anxiety or drug use.  They often do not have the skill set and resilience to move forward.  Furthermore they are missing out on major milestones through which they should naturally be progressing.  These milestones are necessary to mature and without them they will be less equipped to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.  As a parent it is often difficult to know when it is okay to “wait and see what happens” or necessary to take action to prevent that loss of time.  When in doubt it is always best to err on the side of caution to ensure that time IS on your side.

Tags: parenting, summer programs, communication, emotional issues, behavioral issues, troubled teen, assessment, substance abuse, admissions process

Leslie Goldberg on LA Talk Radio: Why need an educational consultant?

Posted by Adam R. Goldberg, M.Ed. on Tue, Feb 26, 2013

Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., CEP was interviewed on LA Talk Radio. In the discussion, she outlined why someone would need an educational consultant. She also spoke about her role as an Advisor to Saving Teens in Crisis Collaborative, a non-profit dedicated to helping families manage the financial burden of assisting a struggling teenager.

Click here or on the image below for the archived audio file:

LA Talk Radio Leslie Goldberg resized 600

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, parenting, educational consultants, educational consulting profession, schools for troubled teens, financing options, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, financial concerns, emotional issues, behavioral issues, troubled teen

Don't believe the Skype? Ask a troubled teen!

Posted by Joshua C. Doyle, M.Ed. on Wed, Dec 19, 2012

One of the compromises I have learned to make is that sometimes face to face meeting are not as effective as, or as valued by, younger generations.  One of many examples I could give is that while most people would probably still agree that it is rude to stop by someone’s home without calling first,  today I find that many younger people consider it rude to call someone without texting them first.  I am not trying to be critical of anyone, quite the opposite.  I have started to realize that in order for me to work with many of today’s students I need to, within reason, adjust myself to understanding their methods of communication.  Over time I have really learned to value their perspective.

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The simple truth is that very few students initially come to my office excited about meeting me.  Often I represent one of the many professionals that they have been dragged to by their parents over the years.  I can’t say that I blame them.  More often than not my initial meeting with families has a lot of eggshells and takes a lot of ice breaking.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the parents and the child have argued during the car ride to my office.   This familiar scene is not all that dissimilar from the decade I spent interviewing families when I worked in admissions.  So... there a solution to the problem?  Not really... but lately I have found that using technology such as Skype, FaceTime, etc. has proven to be more effective in connecting with students and their families than I ever thought possible.  I will often Skype with students while they are in the comfort of their own home.  The fact that we are in different locations gives them a better sense of security and the feeling that we are on equal turf.  In addition it is much easier to schedule a Skype meeting than a face-to-face meeting as we work with families from literally all over the world.  It has taken time for me to adjust to this but it has proven to be very effective because the dialogue tends to be more productive and fluid.


Tags: education trends, educational consultants, schools for troubled teens, communication, emotional issues, troubled teen

Parenting Troubled Teens: An Alphabet of Emotions

Posted by Hannah Cleveland on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

As a parent living in the trenches with a struggling son or daughter you may be thrust into our world.  This likely seems like an alien world which you did not choose to visit.  It is a labyrinth of wilderness therapy programs, residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and much more.  Emotions run the gamut. 

Parents tell me they feel…  

…Afraidparents of troubled teens



At a loss

At wit’s end

Battered and bruised




In Despair






parents of troubled teenWE LISTEN!

… Enraged




Guilt ridden












If you see yourself in this blog, give us a call!

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, parenting, educational consultants, schools for troubled teens, communication, outcomes, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, emotional issues, behavioral issues

Leslie Goldberg Interviewed on NPR

Posted by Adam R. Goldberg, M.Ed. on Tue, Mar 13, 2012

Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., CEP was interviewed on the Faith Middleton Show on NPR last week. In the discussion, Leslie describes a couple of student cases and recounts her career journey as one of the pioneers in the educational consultanting field.

Here is the archived audio file - click the link for direct audio or the image for the full media page and make sure to fast forward to around the 31-32 minute mark (around 2/3 through the show) when it begins playing since the feature is in the latter segment of the 50 minute program:

Leslie Goldberg on NPR Audio Link 03 06 2012

leslie goldberg npr faith middleton

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, safety, parenting, educational consultants, educational consulting profession, schools for troubled teens, communication, outcomes, specialized educational consulting, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, emotional issues, behavioral issues, substance abuse, special education schools

The Beatles Were Wrong | More than Love for Struggling Teens

Posted by Joshua C. Doyle, M.Ed. on Mon, Feb 28, 2011

Love is not all you need for a struggling teenOne of the biggest disappointments I have experienced as an adult, and upon which I will ever be able to look back and laugh, is learning the hard and sad truth... that The Beatles were wrong. "Love is NOT all you need." The romantic in me wants to imagine that love can surpass and triumph over all.  However, the sad reality is that love can blind us when it comes to effectively helping those in need.  Love can make us enable.  Love can make us rescue.  Love... when used for our own needs can hurt those we care about the most.

Don't get me wrong - teens who are in need of intervention due to emotional/behavioral struggles, substance abuse and risky behavior need love and support.  But, that alone falls drastically short of providing what they often need immediately:  professional treatment administered by qualified professionals with compassion.  As much as we want to believe that love can “treat” a teen, it can be used as vehicle to get that teen to treatment but it alone cannot heal. I am not suggesting for a moment that you "Hide Your Love Away.” Teens in treatment need to know that someone loves them but they also need a level of assistance that even the most caring and well intentioned family and friends cannot provide them. 

As much as I shudder at the thought of disagreeing with John, Paul, George and Ringo, sometimes we need to realize that love can’t conquer all.

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, parenting, schools for troubled teens, communication, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, emotional issues, substance abuse

College Bound or Down? Back on Track After Therapeutic School

Posted by Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., CEP on Wed, Feb 09, 2011

College from therapeutic schoolAs educational consultants we work with many families whose children might be labeled “troubled teens” or have had issues with emotional problems, substance abuse, underachieving, or are simply oppositional. Many are very bright, college bound teenagers; they are good kids who have made poor choices. Some have had issues with computer games, texting, or bullying. One thing is for sure—it is far better for this to happen during the middle and high school years than after s/he turns 18. Really?

But what happens if he goes to a wilderness program? What will people say if she goes to a therapeutic boarding school? How on earth will he get into college, not mention a GOOD college? Who will want to accept her into their school? It’s hard enough to get into college these days without having been sent away to a special school or program!

Think about it—how will your son or daughter get into college doing what s/he is doing now? You could be the poor parents who lose their $40,000-$60,000 tuition if these problems aren’t handled now and your student goes off to college with no tools to handle the craziness of college life today. You won’t even know about it because with the privacy laws grades and disciplinary letters go to the student, not to the parent, even if you are the one who pays the tuition!

OK, so it sounds like getting some help sooner rather than later makes sense. But why should a college consider a kid with issues? Honestly, all colleges have students with unmet needs for therapy, medication, substance abuse treatment, and coping strategies. Admissions professionals love to read the essays about the growth and change of students and what has impacted them the most. They don’t need to hear the details of what went on before treatment; however these stories, if told without a “poor me” attitude, rather a story coming from strength and maturity, will make the admissions team sit up and take notice of such students. That said, there are many nuances to both the timing and strategies for getting a child the appropriate help, while maintaining a steady view of what possibilities lie ahead.

Educational consultants who provide both special needs guidance and college advising, are in a unique position to help you determine when and how to get your child back on track to college.

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, parenting, educational consultants, schools for troubled teens, specialized educational consulting, college, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, emotional issues, behavioral issues, substance abuse, admissions process, applying to college, college admission essay

Educational Consultant On College Readiness

Posted by Joshua C. Doyle, M.Ed. on Wed, Jul 28, 2010

For well over a decade I have seen adolescents able to consider post-secondary options that would have not been possible in the past. We are fortunate to have made great strides within the mental health world, although we still have a long way to go! With increased awareness of mental health issues (early intervention, pharmacology, and counseling) paths and doors are now open for many students who would never have been able to succeed in this direction before.  While in high school, under the watchful eye of their parents, many adolescents seem to be able to handle the academic and emotional rigors of college.  Some parents, worried that cutting the umbilical cord will cause the child to fail, become codependent rather than instilling the confidence and engaging the support of others at the college to do what they perceived as their job.

College ReadinessThe constant level of communication between parents and their children with cell phones, texting and emails was baffling to me in my last position in college admissions.  In various workshops and conferences I attended, I was stunned how despite the increasing selective admissions process at colleges, more and more students were not able to function independently. In many cases, there were students who did not disclose to the colleges their history of depression, substance abuse or anxiety. Many parents were fearful their son or daughter would not be accepted if they disclosed these struggles. Even more shocking was how many students and their parents had somehow convinced themselves that the start of college was a new beginning and the struggles of the past would somehow disappear. Unfortunately, this wishful thinking rarely worked out in the end.  More often than not the inability of the students to handle college was an enormous setback for the entire family and the letter, typically arriving around Christmas, would ask the student to pack up before the next semester began.   

When I was working in higher education I was never privy to what these students did after their sudden and premature departure from college.  It wasn’t until I became an educational consultant that I found myself once again working with these troubled young adults but in very different circumstances, many of them living at home with their parents with absolutely zero prospects for the future. 

The sad truth of the matter is that many of these young adults were set up to fail. The idea that a college will relieve the emotional and temperamental setbacks these young adults have had in the past is wildly unrealistic. If anything college can exacerbate these issues and I can’t help wonder how much pain they would have been spared if they had been set on a more realistic path from the beginning.

Many colleges now have support systems in place to help students with a variety of struggles.  Families need to take to take advantage of these opportunities in the selection process. It is imperative that a school know if the students have any special needs (academically and/or therapeutically). Knowing this will only help the school help the student stay afloat. The idea of not disclosing this information during admission process will only hurt the young adult in the end.

Tags: education trends, parenting, educational consultants, college, emotional issues, behavioral issues, admissions process, applying to college

Wilderness High?

Posted by Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., CEP on Wed, Jul 21, 2010

No, this blog is not about a new concept for a high school. Nor is it about getting intoxicated in the woods. “Wilderness high” is the incredible feeling that participants with a successful wilderness experience feel upon completion of a specialized outdoor therapeutic experience. The feelings of confidence and competence, the feelings of “can do” rather than “can’t do”, the feelings of excitement and optimism… the transformation is simply amazing for these students who had prior feelings of hopelessness and helplessness before participating.

As an educational consultant for 25 years, I have seen the growth and changes in the industry, but the power of this experience wilderness  highremains the same. There are some down sides, however, to this incredible sense of power when leaving such a program. Since wilderness cannot last forever, participants must necessarily move on to a longer term therapeutic program, a school, or home. Please don’t misunderstand; this is not a bad thing, but parents, adolescents and young adults must realize that they will be the “newbies” at the next step, whatever that looks like. For example, if it is a therapeutic program or a new school, the student will typically begin at the bottom of the social and academic ladders, having to gain respect and privileges all over again. If they are going back home or to a former school they will have to work doubly hard to “prove” themselves.

A barrier to success? Absolutely not! A challenge? Sure. This transition is actually a life skill that everyone will experience when entering a new job, school/college, or relationship. The most important lesson is that this occurrence is inevitable and the more preparation on the part of the student and the family, the better. There will be no surprises when the honeymoon period wears off and the reality may induce some brief regression and old behaviors. If we are all prepared for this, however, we can remind ourselves that this is, in fact, what we knew would occur and that it will be over quickly if we, the collective transition team (students with parents, educational consultants, therapists, etc.), handle it collaboratively and productively.

Tags: therapeutic wilderness programs, parenting, summer programs, educational consultants, schools for troubled teens, outcomes, specialized educational consulting, emotional issues, behavioral issues, substance abuse