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Archive for the category “Educational Consultant”

Is there a way to avoid sacrificing passion for professionalism?


It’s a very important question ……

When I started as an Educational Consultant nearly 20 years ago, most people working in direct care programs were also in recovery themselves. In fact, it was not uncommon to find that their own long-term recovery constituted the primary quantifiable qualification they brought to the table. They brought charisma, and counseling skills, and they could satisfy the rudimentary paperwork requirements of the times. But the main thing they brought to the job was their passion.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was barely 35 years old, President Nixon had just “declared war” on drugs, therapeutic communities were starting to gain traction, and methadone programs had been around for just under a decade.

Most programs (except methadone) were residential. Many had administrators who weren’t in recovery. But members of the front-line staff believed in their work, mostly because they lived it. Today it much more difficult for people in recovery to enter the recovery field. First off, there are now regulations that demand a certain level of qualification—either a higher education degree or licensure that has a significant education component.

People entering recovery often do so in middle age, and with responsibilities they had avoided in their period of insanity, such as families and jobs. Going back to school, particularly full-time, proves difficult. In addition, we’ve excluded many people from eligibility as a result of past behavior. Many of the pioneers in our field would be barred from working in it under today’s rules. Expectations and qualifications for this field changed. Why? Well, mistakes certainly have been made.

Some people went right from treatment to working in treatment, and there were instances of insufficient supervision, client abuse, questionable tactics and counselor instability. Like we do in response to so many problems, we addressed those issues with more regulations, supposedly to prevent them from recurring. Your credentials don’t legitimize you—your clients do. It’s not about how many books you write or how much you earn in speaking fees.

It’s about how many people credit you for positively influencing their recovery.

I’m not one to believe that you need to be in recovery to provide high-quality recovery services. But it does strike me that those who are in recovery believe much more in the efficacy of what they are doing. For them it’s not abstract.

I haven’t done the research, but I’m guessing that the degree to which we are adapting to the ideas and whims of those outside our field directly correlates to the reduction of recovering people in it. It is much easier to buy into the concept of “harm reduction” if you’ve never experienced the varying levels of harm and come out the other side.

It is much easier to buy into the efficacy of medication-assisted recovery if you’ve never experienced it and later achieved abstinence. It is much easier to see dual diagnosis less as an anomaly and more of the norm if you’ve never seen addiction and/or mental illness, either individually or together from the inside. And it is much easier to rely on the quantitative aspects of the research, if you’ve never experienced the qualitative. When we professionalize the field to the point where the passion is gone, we’re in trouble. I don’t support a return to days gone by, but I do think we are dangerously close to moving too far in the other direction.

Do you know why you are doing everything that you are doing in your professional life? 

Why you are living where you are living, why you are doing the work that you are doing, why you are the person that you are and the reason that you want the things that you want out of life?

Do your clients know how passionate you are?

Reference

Dan Cain is President of RS Eden, a Minneapolis-based agency that operates chemical dependency treatment programs, correctional halfway houses and a drug testing lab among its services.

High-Risk Behaviors Among Youth – Part 1


What Are Risk Behaviors?

High-risk behaviors are those that can have adverse effects on the overall development and well-being of youth, or that might prevent them from future successes and development.

This includes behaviors that cause immediate physical injury (e.g., fighting), as well as behaviors with cumulative negative effects (e.g., substance use). Risk behaviors also can affect youth by disrupting their normal development or prevent them from participating in ‘typical’ experiences for their age group. For example, teen pregnancy can prevent youth from experiencing typical adolescent events such as graduating from school or from developing close friendships with peers.

Because high-risk behaviors can significantly impact the lives of youth and those around them, it is essential that parents, educators and other concerned adults become aware of the prevalence of these behaviors, the factors that increase their likelihood, and what can be done to abate or prevent those risks.

Types And Prevalence Of High-Risk Behaviors

Several high-risk behaviors have been of particular interest to professionals because of their prevalence in youth today.

Many of these behaviors cause a large number of deaths and injury among teens, or have negative impacts on society.

Behaviors Related To Obesity And Unhealthy Dieting

In recent years, the rate of obesity in the U.S. has reached epidemic levels. For this reason, many professionals have started to consider behaviors leading to being overweight and obesity as risky. Nationally, only 66 percent of youth report engaging in vigorous physical activity at least three times during the past week. While an increasing number of youth are overweight or obese, a large number of youth also are engaging in unhealthy dietary behaviors to lose weight.

Teens use unhealthy methods including vomiting, laxatives, unsupervised/non-prescribed diet pills and fasting.

Risky Sexual Behaviors

Engagement in sexual behavior is considered to be another group of high-risk behaviors for youth because of the potential physical (e.g., STDs or sexually transmitted diseases) and socioemotional risks they present. Youth may or may not be ready for the social and emotional implications of sexual activity, and many sexually active youth do not use safe sexual practices. Teens engage in sexual intercourse at a young age – 47 percent of youth nationwide.

Among those who report engaging in sex, only 63 percent report having used a condom during their last intercourse and 17 percent report using alternative methods of birth control. Unprotected sex exacerbates risks because of the potential for developing STDs and the potential for unwanted pregnancy.

Approximately half of the 19 million new STD cases diagnosed per year are of youth ages 15-19; and 13 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses are of youth ages 13-24. Teen pregnancy is both a possible effect of risky behaviors as well as a risk factor in itself. Teen pregnancy has been linked to higher rates of school dropout, as well as other socio-emotional risks. Rates of U.S. teen pregnancy have declined over the last few years. To date, the rate of teen pregnancy is about 7.5 percent for girls between the ages of 15 and 19, which is 36 percent lower than in 1990.

Nonetheless, this rate remains the highest in all the other developed countries (e.g., compared to Canada, Germany, Japan) (Gutmacher Institute, 2006).

Self-injurious Behaviors, Violence And Suicide

Among teens, many of the most self-injurious behaviors are related to driving.

Obtaining a driver’s license is considered as one of the most exciting milestones of the teen years but unfortunately, car accidents make up the leading cause of death among teens. Many injuries are exacerbated (and deaths are caused) by the failure to wear seat belts, being distracted by others in the car, talking on their cell phones, and texting. Approximately 30 percent of youth nationwide report that they rarely or never wear seat belts. The combination of alcohol use and driving also contributes to deaths among teens from car crashes. About 10 percent of teens report driving after drinking, and 36 percent admit riding in a car where the driver had been drinking. Driving-related risk behaviors continue to be a serious problem during the teen years.

Fighting and aggression include another group of self-injurious behaviors. It is second to vehicular accidents as the leading cause of death among those 15-34 years of age.

Nationally, 36 percent of teens report having been involved in physical fighting over the last year with males (43 percent) outnumbering females (28 percent) dramatically. Similarly, both males and females reported carrying a weapon or a gun (19 percent nationally), however males (29 percent) outnumbered females (7 percent) significantly. Finally, suicide is one of the highest risk behaviors among youth today. Close to 17 percent (almost one out of every five) of youth report having considered suicide within the past year and 13 percent actually planned it (national and state numbers are similar). Among teens, 8.4 percent attempt suicide every year. Suicide now is the third leading cause of death among those ages 15-24, with 86 percent of those deaths from males, and 14 percent from females.

Substance Use

Substance use is another group of behaviors that contribute to immediate as well as long-term damage. Drinking and drug use have been linked to motor vehicle accidents, fighting/violence, problematic relationships and social interactions, and various diseases. Drinking and cigarette smoking are among the most common in this group of behaviors.

Over 43 percent of youth nationwide report that they drink alcohol, and 26 percent of youth nationwide admit to heavy drinking (five or more drinks in a row).

Approximately 23 percent of teens admit to being cigarette smokers with 9.4 percent being frequent cigarette users (smoked on 20 of last 30 days). Like self-injurious behaviors, the prevalence of alcohol and cigarette use has decreased over the last few years, but nonetheless continues to be serious risks to adolescent health. Illicit drug use is both a health and public concern because of the obvious negative physical effects it has on users. Effects of illicit drug use include, but are not limited to, brain damage and damage to major physical organs. It also has been linked to a host of other health compromising behaviors such as risky driving, engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors, and violence. Recent estimates suggest that 22 percent of teens use marijuana and that 10 percent of teens used marijuana before the age of 13. Approximately 3 percent use cocaine.

In recent years, methamphetamine use has become a serious concern in the United States. The low-cost of the drug and the ease at which many youth are able to access this substance have contributed significantly to its rapid spread.

The serious, immediate and long-term effects of methamphetamine have made it a top concern for many professionals and policy-makers. Today, about 3 percent of eighth graders, and over 4 percent of 10th and 12th graders report having tried or used methamphetamine nationally.

Par 2 – Relationship Between Adolescence and High-Risk Behaviors

The IEP Notebook – Guidelines & Glossary


Advocates agree that the best way to prepare for an IEP meeting for your child is to bring along an IEP Notebook.

I alway advise my clients to create two IEP Notebooks.

IEP Notebook – #1

Start with the notebook: Large with plastic pocket on front cover (to put your child’s picture and name on the front side and a calendar of the school year in the pocket on the back side)

  • 504 Plan and list of parents’ rights (Understand the laws before the meeting)
  • All IEPs and Notes from all IEP meetings
  • All of his/her school records, report cards, progress notes, and discipline records
  • District and Independent assessments
  • Examples of her/his school work
  • Formal and informal correspondence with all schools
  • Informal correspondence
  • List of involved professionals, student study team members, other resources
  • Logs of contacts with school, and a separate one to show contacts with other professionals outside school environment
  • Medical records/ medication logs
  • Parent/family observations outside of school
  • List of questions/ideas
  • List of your expectations for IEP – Prioritize the long-term goals (which will have the greatest impact for your child?) and short-term objectives

The IEP Notebook #2

Divide the notebook into 11 sections:

  1. Current IEP
  2. Past IEP’s
  3. IEP meeting information
  4. Assessments and testing information
  5. Important Contacts and Telephone numbers
  6. Medical and other vital records
  7. School information
  8. Your legal rights and relevant education laws in effect
  9. Information on Due Process
  10. Important relevant articles
  11. Glossary of Terms

The Glossary is filled with 78 pages of Special Education terms that you may be unfamiliar with, or unfamiliar with as they apply to material regarding IEP’s.  

This is a PDF file that is available for download and print out and may be immediately be inserted into your IEP Notebook. 

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. continues her wonderful profession as an advocate and educational / therapeutic consultant.

www.familysolutionsteenhelp.com – Click here to order

She is covering many subjects for parents on blogs and is preparing other downloadable information that can be readily used for IEP meetings.

Dr. Frances was able to receive an 80% payment of residential treatment services for 2 years for her daughter as well as retroactive monies that had been denied. Her IEP Notebook, used at Mediation, was 500 pages.

The State Mediator was so impressed with the thoroughness of the 500 page IEP Notebook and documentation, she asked permission to use it as a training tool.

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