Whether a family is in crisis and needs to make a change for their child, adolescent or young adult quickly or when a family is considering a change in a more relaxed time-frame, the components of a good consultation remain the same:
- Meeting with the parents to gather information about the student, family, and resources that have been tried to date
- Meeting with the student to learn about student’s preferences, interests, and perceptions
- Phone collaboration with involved professionals
- Review of records (testing reports, treatment summaries, school records)
- Additional meeting to discuss types of services recommended
Even when it is clear that a family is seeking a placement, the consultation process provides a synthesis of the situation that clarifies possible paths forward. Consultation concludes with a verbal report of the findings to parents, including types of services recommended. After the consultation phase, the family may decide to continue to the placement phase, when names of specific schools or programs are provided and the search for the best match proceeds.
In the case of immediate need for placement, these steps can occur rapidly.
The student as part of the process
Margie feels strongly that, unless there is reason that a meeting with the student is contraindicated, a face-to-face meeting with the student is warranted. Years of clinical experience interviewing children, adolescents, and young adults equips her to learn valuable information about the student in a non-stressful way. Since her goal is to find a school or program that works with the students’ strengths, the student meeting provides a foundation for choosing the right placement. At times meetings can occur at school, hospital, coffee shops,or settings other than the office to facilitate comfort and to help with building trust.
Since young adults over the age of 18 are in charge of their own decision-making, the process proceeds differently. Multiple meetings with the young adult to assist her/him in making an informed decision in conjunction with parents’ guidance often occur.