Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jail is not an option..... Troubled teens? Get help today

There are parents that believe that their teenager needs to be taught a lesson - learn to appreciate what they have, understand that respect is expected not a choice.

However what many parents, in their time of anger and frustration, don't realize is that their teen isn't happy with themselves either.  They are crying out for help with their negative behavior.

Seeking a scared straight program or even a boot camp can be more damage than parents realize.  You are taking a broken child and beating them down even more (emotionally - if not psychically).

Is your teen using drugs?  Smoking pot?  Suspended or expelled from school?  Failing? Hanging with a new group of kids that are not on their way to a bright future?

Don't be a parent in denial but don't make rash choices.  Having your teen arrested may end up doing more than teaching him/her a lesson.  Who will they meet in juvie?  What will this accomplish?

There are options.  Take your time - do your research.  Visit - and get answers!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Do your research when looking for help
Since my story broke in 2001 - the stories have not stopped with allegations of abuse, neglect, fraud etc.  How many lawsuits have been settled with confidentiality statements and a check?  I have heard of many.  I have seen the settlement agreements.  I was not one of those parents - I was able to fight legally and defeated them at a jury trial!  In Salt Lake City - a city of their peers - no one condones child abuse.

They couldn't defeat me legally - so they took to the Internet - helping to create and instigate slime, lies, defamation and more against myself and my family as well as my organization.  Although they weren't directly named in my lawsuit for Internet defamation and Invasion of Privacy, discovery proved their name came up more times than they wanted - I am sure.  Not to mention the defendant was given WWASPS attorney's to defend her.  Yes, the web of lies and deceit never ends.  However it all comes full circle.... Please read my Blog below this one for more information.

According to Tico Times:
Child Welfare Office closes yet another teen reform center

A youth behavior modification center run by the Utah-based World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) is closed following allegations of abuse. 

For the second time in the past nine years, a youth behavior modification center run by the Utah-based World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) is closed following allegations of abuse. This one was run by the association’s director, Bob Lichfield, brother of Narvin Lichfield, who ran a similar center here until it was voluntarily shut down in 2003.

Last Friday, the Child Welfare Office (PANI) closed the center, known as Teen Mentor, which advertised itself online as a therapeutic and psychological services program for U.S. teenagers dealing with behavioral issues and substance abuse problems.

According to PANI technical director Jorge Urbina, PANI officers visited Teen Mentor’s facilities on Friday after three Costa Rican psychologists reported that they witnessed abuse of student residents.
Teen Mentor was operated out of Hotel Carara, in the Pacific coastal town of Tárcoles de Garabito.
Student residents told PANI investigators that they had experienced physical, verbal and psychological abuse while at the facility.

Read entire article.

WWASPS and their slick marketing sales person such as Lisa Irvin or Irvine (whatever way she wants to spell it on any certain days), of Teens in Crisis or Jane Hawley of Lifelines (some lifeline) - and their counter-parts - will continually tell people the jury made a mistake with me - or better, I own, operate or manage competitive programs - really?

My story is documented in Wit's End! A Parent's True Story.... published by Health Communication Inc, (HCI) -home of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  I am sure they wouldn't back a person of deceit....

Are you look for help for your out-of-control teen?  Don't let this scare you , it only re-iterates your job to do your due diligence to find safe and quality programs.  Take the time to do it - you can do it.  Find a list of questions and helpful hints on my site -

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Red River Academy, Pilars of Hope, Horizon Academy, Cross Creek = WWASPS?

My experiences with WWASPS

If you read my Blogs, most know my story.  From the time my daughter turned 14 and started giving me a handful of troubles, to finding a so-called  teen-help program that make me a lot of promises.  Not only were the promises broken, my daughter endured abuse both physically (being placed in a box for 17 hours), sleeping in sewage and other indescribable things - forced me into starting a crusade (as some have put it) to let parents that are desperate know more about this big business of "teen help".

Here we are - almost a decade later, and the program that harmed my daughter (did I mention I defeated them in a jury trial?) is finally closed.  Carolina Springs Academy also known recently as Magnolia Christian School (both affiliated with WWASPS) closed their doors.  Hopefully it is for good.  However, that didn't stop the owners, Lichfield brothers, from going abroad.

The recent news from The Tico Times: Child Welfare Office closes yet another teen reform center 
is yet another example that someone is not paying attention.  Parents are not doing their due diligence before placing a teen in a program.

Although we had a very bad experience, it doesn't mean that quality schools and programs are not needed.  Many teens are in distress- parents are at their wit's end and they need options.  Safe and qualified options.  Which is why I created Parents' Universal Resource Experts - a website to help educate you.  It offers questions to ask, helpful hints and much more when looking for programs.  The number one thing you don't want to do - is leave our country!

Although many may think this is about selling my book, Wit's End!, or my story - I challenge you to read it and I promise you will find things you never knew about these types of specialty programs.  Learn your rights.  Learn about transports - they are not all bad, but you need to know who is licensed and insured and who isn't.  Who is about making this trip go smoothly and who is about just getting paid.

Be an educated parent - don't get scammed, get your teen the help they need and do your due diligence.

Do you think you need an Educational Consultant?  It is likely you don't need to spend this extra money - parents know what is best for their individual teen.  My experiences with Educational Consultants is questionable at best.

Try not to get sucked into short term programs like Wilderness, or punitive like Boot Camps - in the long run - they are short term programs with short term results.  In many situations of parents I have spoken with, the teen ends up with more anger and resentment that is targeted at the person that sent them there.  With Wilderness Program, it can be a false sense of recovery.  Usually they recommend a treatment center following the $15-20K you just spent... Start and finish at the same place.... teens need consistency.

Here are a list of alleged WWASPS facilities and their marketing arms as of 3/26/11:

Academy of Ivy Ridge, NY (CLOSED)
Bell Academy, CA (CLOSED)
Canyon View Park, MT
Camas Ranch, MT
Carolina Springs Academy, SC (License revoked, re-opened as Magnolia Hills Christian)
Casa By the Sea, Mexico (CLOSED)
Cross Creek Programs, UT (Cross Creek Center and Cross Creek Manor)
Darrington Academy, GA (CLOSED)
**Discovery - Mexico (see below)
El Dorado, Costa Rica - 90 Day Boot Camp
Help My Teen, UT (Adolescent Services Adolescent Placement) Promotes and markets these programs.
Gulf Coast Academy, MS (CLOSED)
Horizon Academy, NV
Jane Hawley - Lifelines Family Services
Kathy Allred - Lifelines Sales Representative
Lisa Irvin - Helpmyteen and Teens in Crisis (Will use Lisa Irvine at times too)
Lifelines Family Services, UT (Promotes and markets these programs) Jane Hawley
Magnolia Christian School, SC - formerly Carolina Springs Academy (RE-OPENING 2011)
Mark Peterson - Teen Help Sales Representative
Majestic Ranch, UT
MENTOR School, Costa Rica (CLOSED as of 3/25/11)
Midwest Academy, IA (Brian Viafanua, formerly the Director of Paradise Cove as shown on Primetime, is the current Director here)
Parent Teen Guide - Promotes and markets these programs
Pillars of Hope, Costa Rica
Pine View Christian Academy, (Borders FL, AL, MS)
Reality Trek, UT
Red River Academy, LA (Borders TX)
Respect Academy, NV
Royal Gorge Academy, CO (CLOSED)
Sherri Schwartzman - Lifelines Sales Representative
Sky View Academy, NV (allegedly closed?)
Spring Creek Lodge, MT (CLOSED) Rumors they have re-opened in another location of MT.
Sunset Bay Academy, CA
Teen Help, UT (Promotes and markets these programs)
Teens In Crisis - Lisa Irvin
Tranquility Bay, Jamaica
Sunset Bay Academy, Oceanside, CA - rumors of short term program there
Youth Education, Inc. LaVerkin Utah - NEW

Friday, March 25, 2011

Troubled Teens: The Blame Game

It is all the kids he/she is hanging out with, it is not my teen.  If it weren't for those bad influences, my child would never act like that - or smoke pot.....

Really - you want to believe that so badly, but in reality if your teen that is making the choice not only to hang with that negative peer group, he/she is also part of it!  So another parent of a teen he/she is hanging with is saying the same thing.

Your teen has choices, he/she is making a choice of who their so-called friends are.  Your teen is making the decision to smoke pot.  Your teen is making a choice to stop studying and heading down a negative path.

It is no different than a parent making a choice to be friends with their neighbor, who may not be the biggest gossip in the town. 

If your teen is making bad choices that are escalating to a point that you are no longer able to control him/her, it is time to look at parent choices.  Seeking local therapy, youth groups, outpatient facilities and even looking for help from relatives - exhausting all your local options. 

Don't get stuck in the blame game circle!  It isn't your fault - parenting is not easy, and we do our best to give our children the best.  Entitlement issues have become a trend of today.

If you come to the conclusion you need residential therapy, do your homework - this is a major decision that is not only financial, it is an emotional one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Education Consultants (EC's) - The EC Shuffle

Who is helping and who is profiting?
Over and over again I will hear from parents that are either considering hiring an Educational Consultant, or have hired one.

What is an Educational Consultant? (EC)  They are an individual that may or may not have qualifications to help you place your troubled teen into a treatment center.  Years ago, EC's were mainly used for parents that needed help in finding the right colleges for their teens, help with their applications etc.

As our world turned, the need for help in the troubled teen industry grew.  It became a new outlet for EC's to make money.  As the Internet was growing, more and more parents and teens were able to do all their college searches online - and get information at their finger tips. 

Well, the Internet has expanded again - with the help of Facebook, Blogs, forums etc more parents are able to do their searches for residential therapy without the help and extra fees of an EC.  However, it is difficult to decide what is best for your teenager or what online information is true, false or fabricated.

As a parent of a troubled teen, I went through all these motions.  From the EC to the Internet scams - I hit it all.  My story is not a happy one, however it is one that thousands of families have learned from.

I ended up with a program that did more harm than good, and with that, followed years of litigation and my strong desire to find out what this "big business of teen help" is all about.

For over a decade I have made it my mission - I have seen and visited many good, bad and ugly programs.  But what I have heard over and over again is the EC Shuffle which is just as disturbing as finding a bad program.

Almost every family I spoke with that hired an EC were given the same advice - Wilderness - then we will see - and of course, by the fourth week of Wilderness they are telling the parents - we need to go to step two - a residential boarding school..... So this teen that thought he was leaving to go home within 6-8 weeks now finds out he is going to yet another program.

He/she will have to start all over again with their issues, new program, new staff and more feelings of abandonment all over again.

EC's have told parents that Wilderness will help break their teen down to be better prepared for a therapeutic boarding school - but correct me if I am wrong, isn't our teen already broken?  Why are we looking for help?

Either way, it is just very disheartening that when parents are at their weakest moment they believe what they hear from what they assume are experts. 

Full Disclosure:  I am not against Wilderness programs, many teens have a wonderful experience, but many parents can't afford them - and please don't regret it.  There are some good EC's out there - like every business, you need to do your due diligence.

At the end of the day, you need to find what is best for your teen, as a parent you are capable of making these choices.  You may just need some sound guidance - visit and you will find lists of questions, hints in searching and much more.

I just believe enough is enough when it comes to this EC Shuffle....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

When Parenting Books and DVD's Don't Work

How many parenting books have you depended on?
Your teen or tween is starting to act in ways that are foreign to you.  Whether they are hanging with peers that are less than desirable or starting to fail in school when you know they are more than capable.  They are underachieving, they are good kids making some bad choices and slowly escalating into a person you barely recognize.

Many of us read those baby books before our first child came into the world – and after he or she arrived, we always opened a parenting book with answers and explanations.  But when it comes to teenage time – it can be a totally different story!

Defiance is the tone of your home, and disrespect has become second nature.

First you try therapy or counseling, there has to be something physically wrong.  In most cases, that is not the story.  There usually isn't a pill to fix a teen that is spiraling out-of-control.

During these therapy sessions, you are gathering and reading as many parenting teen books as possible!  Now you find a DVD that makes promises to turn your teen around in 30 days?!  Really?  Some books are excellent - seriously really good - and can help YOU cope, but what about your teen?  Is it resolving these deeply root issues that are causing this negative behavior pattern?

No matter - you are desperate and willing to try whatever it takes.  As a responsible parent this is what we have to do.  However don't allow your emotions to take over as they did in my story.

Are you at your wit's end?  Even read my book - "Wit's End!" - but still wondering how to move forward.  Visit and find out more.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Treatment for Troubled Teens - Teen Help

Choosing the right program takes time.
You have come to a point that therapy isn't working, your teen is out of control, they are saying they are going to drop out of school, and not attending classes - now you found out they are smoking pot, maybe worse.  Of course we then shift into the blame game!

Stop, listen to yourself -and take action.  Don't be a parent in denial - get your teen the help they need.  The Internet is a confusing and daunting experience, however a necessary tool when trying to decipher a field you are totally foreign to.

Parent networking is priceless!  Talk to other parents that have had similar experiences.

Move forward from wanting teach your teen that they need to appreciate what they have - it just won't happen in a boot camp, scared straight or even wilderness.  Sure - you will break them down "temporarily" but what happens with that "fright" wears off?

Need help?  Visit where your family is our priority - building your teen up and helping them to determine where this negative behavior is stemming from.  Don't get sucked into glorified websites of schools and programs - or toll free numbers going to marketing arms all over the country!  Know who you are talking to - and know they have your child's best interest first.

Don't delay - find treatment for your troubled teen today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wilderness Programs: Are they worth it?

What is the real purpose of Wilderness?
For the many people that know me, they know I don't believe in Wilderness programs, nor do I advocate for short term programs.  This doesn't mean there aren't reputable Wilderness programs in our country.  There are, however chances are very good, after your teen attends one - within the first 30 days, the program will tell you it is likely you will need to go on to a residential therapy program.  Which means....
  • More money
  • Another trip
  • Another therapist
  • Another schedule
  • Etc....
Back to the first one - the costs are exuberant for Wilderness, and to combine it with another at least $50K for a boarding school is simply out of the equation for many families.

I am writing this information today for two reasons.  One, I have received several calls this week alone by parents that fell for the Wilderness road.  Now they are out of money and need  a program, but the funding is no where to be found.  What do you do?  Their teen is back to the streets - smoking the dope and failing in school. (Let's also remember most Wilderness programs don't offer academics).

One thing these at-risk teens need is consistency.  Usually for the past several months, even years they have been spiraling out of control, driving down a negative path with a negative peer group.

Going to Wilderness is a great experience - they get to vent to their counselor, talk about their feelings and dig deep inside.  They even get a new appreciation of sleeping in their bed or a bed.  They are also knowing that once they just get through these next 6-8-10 weeks - they are home free.

Now, you tell them they are not home free - they are going to the "next step" - a longer term program.  Now they have to get over the disappointment, anger, resentment and most of all, they have to start all over again with a new therapist - a new staff and a new setting.  Sigh.....

Of course this is the case for the families that can afford that next step.  If they can't - some will be facing a probation officer or public defender within a few months.  Solid changes and "lasting" changes cannot be made within 6-8-10 weeks.

This is way an average successful program is 6-9-12 months (not weeks).  On the same note, you don't want programs that are taking your teen completely out of the family for more than 18-24 months - that is not emotionally healthy.  It can contribute to abandonment issues -which can backfire.

Do you want to learn more?  Visit and find out about resources and options for troubled teens

Are Wilderness program worth it?  It is my opinion of after a decade of talking with thousands of family - no, they simply are not worth it.  That doesn't mean families they aren't useful to some people, but from the many I have spoken with - they do have good experiences however know that it is step they didn't really need.  Of course, we all are different.

Monday, March 7, 2011

When Therapy Doesn't Work

Going to therapy seems to be the first step parents take when they realize their tween or teen is starting to go down a negative path.

It is important to find a therapist that specialize with adolescents - one that understands the "teen talk".

But what happens when therapy isn't working?  What happens when your teens starts to manipulate the therapist?  What happens when the therapist believes it is time for the next step?

It is time to look for a boarding school, one that offers the support your teen needs both emotionally and academically.  It is important to understand, although education is absolutely a necessity, you have to realize that the teens needs to be emotionally balanced in order to do well at anything. 

This doesn't mean you look at programs that don't offer academics, such as many Wilderness programs, parents need to keep 3 major issues in their mind.
  1. Academic's/Education
  2. Clinical/Therapy
  3. Enrichment Programs/Extra-Curriculum Activities
Don't skimp on any of the above.  You will first be stung by the sticker shock - then you need to take this search seriously.  There are state funded programs through your local United Way, as well as programs that offer financial help in accordance to your income.  It just takes time and diligence to find exactly what fits your families needs.

Learn more at - There is more to residential therapy than what you find online.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teens Cussing, Swearing and Belligerent Attitude

Do you use 4-letter words?
In the baby's (teen's) ears and out of their mouth.

Swearing, cussing and meanness, that is how many school hallways are described.  When does a teen start using these four letter words?

How can we move from a cussing culture of cruelty to one of compassion and caring?

McKay Hatch, 17 year-old California student created a No Cussing Club in 2007.  Isn't it time that Broward County and others follow this lead?

Take the No Cussing Challenge, changing the world one word at a time...

The words we use affect how we feel about ourselves, how others react to us and how others feel about themselves.  Our words truly shape our world.

Thousands of people have taken this challenge and told the No Cussing Club about the positive affect it has had in their lives.

Does cussing lead to bullying or instigate bullying?  According to a recent NY Times article, some experts say the notion that cursing leads to bullying is misguided. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently added a section on bullying to its policy statement on the pediatrician’s role in preventing youth violence, but cursing was not mentioned.

Does your child swear?  Do you?  Be an example to your family.  It will make a difference.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teen Drug Addiction

With today's society, kids have access to many different substances that can be addictive and damaging. If you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking alcohol, please seek help for them as soon as possible. Drug testing is helpful, but not always accurate.  Teen Drug use and Teen Drinking may escalate to addiction.
We get calls constantly, that a child is only smoking pot. Unfortunately in most cases, marijuana can lead to more severe drugs, and marijuana is considered an illegal drug. Smoking marijuana is damaging to the child's body, brain and behavior. Even though marijuana is not considered a narcotic, most teens are very hooked on it.

Many teens that are on prescribed medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Concerta, Zoloft, Prozac etc. are more at risk when mixing these medications with street drugs. It is critical you speak with your child about this and learn all the side effects.  Educating your child on the potential harm may help them to understand the dangers involved in mixing prescription drugs with street drugs. Awareness is the first step to understanding. 

Alcohol is not any different with today's teens. Like adults, some teens use the substances to escape their problems; however they don't realize that it is not an escape but rather a deep dark hole. Some teens use substances to "fit in" with the rest of their peers - teen peer pressure. This is when a child really needs to know that they don't need to "fit in" if it means hurting themselves. Using drug and alcohol is harming them. Especially if a teen is taking prescribed medication (refer to the above paragraph) teen drinking can be harmful. The combination can bring out the worse in a person. Communicating with your teen, as difficult as it can be, is one of the best tools we have.  Even if you think they are not listening, we hope eventually they will hear you.

If your teen is experimenting with this, please step in and get proper help through local resources. If it has extended into an addiction, it is probably time for a Residential Placement. If you feel your child is only experimenting, it is wise to start precautions early. An informed parent is an educated parent.  This can be your life jacket when and if you need the proper intervention.  Always be prepared, it can save you from rash decisions later.

A teen that is just starting to experiment with substance use or starting to become difficult; a solid short term self growth program may be very beneficial for them.  However keep in mind, if this behavior has been escalating over a length of time, the short term program may only serve as a temporary band-aid.
Drugs and Alcoholic usage is definitely a sign that your child needs help. Teen Drug Addiction and Teen Drinking is a serious problem in today's society; if you suspect your child is using substances, especially if they are on prescribed medications, start seeking local help.  If the local resources become exhausted, and you are still experiencing difficulties, it may be time for the next step; Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center.

Visit for more valuable information.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Troubled Teens and Parents at their Wit's End

What happened to that sweet 5 year-old you sent off to Kindergarten? 
What happened to that athletic tween that loved T-Ball?
What happened to my little angel that loved going to the mall with me?
What happened to my child that always worked so hard to get good grades and always worked to make me proud?

Where did my kind son go?
Where did their childhood go?

Today's society is challenging for teenagers - but can be even more distressful for their parents.  When slowly they watch their good child turn into a tween or teen that they barely recognized.  Underneath the questionable clothing, the piercings we had to reluctantly agree to - and the tattoos they got on their own - our child is deep in there somewhere!

After exhausting all local resources, whether it is an excellent adolescent therapist to local support groups and even out-patient facilities, you are looking at a teen that is heading down a dark road.  It is time for parents to dig deep and find the strength to get their teen the help they need - unfortunately it usually is not at home.

Residential therapy is a big step and a step not to take lightly.  Are you considering a Residential Treatment Center, Therapeutic Boarding School, Military School or other out of home options?  Learn about the differences and find what is best for your teen - visit

Read Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen today!