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What is an Educational Consultant or Therapeutic Consultant?

This blog was orginally published April 23rd, 2015 and updated to make it easier to read.


Where did the term Education Consultant come from?

The term “Educational Consultant” harkens back to the early days of specialized boarding and day school enrollments in traditional prep schools and elite colleges.  Educational Consultants worked with families to help prepare students to assist in securing enrollment in prestigious schools, or ushering students through the college or graduate school application and decision process.  In fact, many Educational Consultants still work exclusively with this type of client.


What is an Education Consultant?* 

There are also other types of Educational Consultants, many of whom branched out from this initial tree, and have developed a unique subset of Educational Consulting, and they are often referred to as Therapeutic Consultants, Behavioral Health Consultants, Interventionists or simply Referring Professionals.  Depending on the scope of this person’s practice, she or he may focus on specialized colleges, adolescent interventions,  a specialized boarding school that focuses on a learning disability or could accept students from a treatment program to assist with their transition, therapeutic boarding schools/teen residential treatment, therapeutic wilderness therapy programs, troubled teen rehab, young adult treatment or transition programs, and specializing in (like autism, anxiety, depression, substance abuse for a particular age group), or any combination of the above.  

It is of paramount importance that Educational Consultants are independent of the schools and any therapeutic intervention or treatment to transition programs they refer to, to prevent ethical conflicts.  Their job is to assist families investigate, evaluate, and engage with the best wrap-around services, in-home placement options, day treatment options, or residential treatment options that are available. This is accomplished through interviews, assessment and investigation of the family dynamics and the programs’, corroborating research, number of clients per year (their professional experience), and then based on their findings, they help families narrow down and understand the bank of options which exist.  Interventionists also can help with getting the student to the treatment facilities.  The lines of Consultant and Interventionist are blurring and evolving.  Choosing to work with an experienced Educational Consultant can increase a families’ precision in determining an appropriate level of care and services and can mitigate the potential for treatment failures, which can not only build treatment resistance but also result in misallocated resources (including time and money).  The key is supporting the decision process and then supporting the family through the assessment and treatment process. Review this blog to learn the interview questions for hiring an independent education consultant. 

Choosing to secure the services of a referring professional is much like that of choosing a therapist or a doctor.  The processes these professionals help navigate can be highly emotional and anxiety-provoking and the referring professional will likely become a key stakeholder in the selection, placement, and ongoing treatment, of your son or daughter.  Educational Consultants partner with a family and serve as a resource, a sounding board, and an advocate for your needs and the needs of your child, both while your child is enrolled in a program, and beyond.  For this same reason, programs generally encourage the family’s employment of an Educational Consultant because the therapeutic expert provides confidence and perspective that would otherwise require precious weeks to generate between the program and parents.

Lastly, referring professionals are well informed about a wide variety of services, treatment programs, after-care support models, and post-treatment placements, and many have the ability to track a client and family through various levels of care. It is not uncommon for much of this work to be done remotely, and each referring professional has his/her own model for supporting families, either in person, electronically, or over the phone.  Some treatment programs require a referring professional to usher a parent through the placement process to support the family and lend context to the family when the treatment struggles and bumps to the process inevitably come about.  Just as there are many avenues to success, there are many styles of supporting a family, and building your own bank of knowledge, while also utilizing the support of a referring professional, is one proven path toward finding, and getting the most out of, a therapeutic placement.


* The professional title ‘Education Consultant’  can also refer to contractors in a school system or independent school. For the purposes of this blog and website, Education Consultants are independent contractors for families.



About the Author

headshot of Jake WeldJake Weld holds a master’s degree in education and has over twenty years of experience in traditional, LD, and therapeutic schools, adolescent and young adult programs, and conventional, wilderness, and residential settings. He has served as the Executive Director of a therapeutic boarding school, the Assistant Headmaster of a specialized LD boarding school, and as the Academic and Program Director of various schools and programs.  He is currently the Director of Admissions and Business Development for Mansfield Hall, a specialized college support program in Burlington, VT, and Madison, WI.