Your child is struggling, whether they are 12 or 24, and you need help. At first, you feel reasonably confident that you can find the support your child needs. So, you search the Internet. And you search, and you dig. The websites are lovely. You make calls to a variety of programs. But your child is in crisis. You feel pressured. You feel an urgency, and you must act quickly. A friend of a friend tells you they had a great experience (or not so great experience) in hiring an educational and therapeutic placement consultant. You ask, “what the heck is that?” How do we vet the good ones from the not-so-good ones? You do a little research, and you are intrigued, so you start to break down choices and call the experts in finding the best program for your child. 

As an educational and therapeutic placement consultant, when a parent calls me, they may say, “We are interviewing several educational consultants.” I say, fabulous! It is essential to connect with any professional who is going to work with your family potentially. It’s all about the fit. 

What to ask first

 There are several essential questions to determine experience, credentials, and whether the person will be good for your child and your family when vetting us. 

  1. “How long have you been working in this field?”
  2. “What is your background?”
  3. “What makes you an expert?”
  4. “How many programs do you visit each year?”
  5. “Are you a licensed professional? What are your credentials?”
  6. “What are your special areas of expertise?”
  7. “Are you paid by the programs you recommend?”

Ensure that the educational and therapeutic placement consultants you interview are members of professional organizations such as the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) or the Therapeutic Consulting Association (TCA). Ask what their professional standing is with IECA; are they a professional member, an associate member? Many educational consultants, including myself, are certified educational planners with the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP), the highest credential in the field. 

Additional questions: Would you allow me to speak with some of your current and former clients? Are they all-inclusive?

Have you ever been sued by a family? Once my child is placed, what is the communication with us? With the program? Will you visit my child while they are in a program?

Worth the investment

When you’ve got these answers, discuss consultant fees for the services you may need from the person you’ve chosen. The most experienced and knowledgeable consultants will be worth their costs in the time and stress they will save your family, particularly if you are in a crisis. When a child desperately needs help, family members don’t have weeks to conduct research and in-person visits to programs—that’s what educational and therapeutic placement consultants do for you. At Optimal Edu Options, we visit programs nationwide to assess the quality of services at residential treatment centers, boarding schools, wilderness programs, and more.

Where do you find an educational consultant? You can find reputable options on the websites of any of the professional organizations we discussed above. In addition, your child’s teachers, therapists, psychologists, doctors, and psychiatrists also may have referrals for you, as well as other parents who’ve gone through similar challenges.

Optimal Edu Options is an Arizona-based education consulting agency whose experienced team has the expertise necessary to effectively support your family and child in finding the best educational and therapeutic options to meet your family’s needs. Reach out to us today for more information about our services and how they can help. We offer a free 30-minute consultation. Email or call us at (602) 904-1282. Book online at