Whether you are new to the area or contemplating a change of schools, working with an experienced and knowledgeable consultant could save you time, energy and resources by focusing your search upon the right schools for the right reasons. Having placed hundreds of students in local independent day schools over decades, we have developed not only an understanding of school programs and the kinds of students they best support, but also a differentiated understanding of school cultures, styles and philosophies. We assist families in assessing a child’s individual needs, organizing a focused yet flexible search and completing applications thoughtfully and effectively. We help make sense of numerous choices in an efficient manner guided by common sense, experience and the relationship-grounded approach we celebrate in our work.
As a community of students and teachers living, learning and recreating together, boarding schools can provide a palpable sense of community and high levels of bonding and interaction rarely experienced in day schools. As a consequence of caring for the whole individual “24/7” and in meeting the varied needs of a student body from around the world, boarding schools offer a higher degree of natural structure which, in turn, promotes personal growth, involvement in new experiences and unique opportunities for leadership and responsibility. A boarding community and its ordered rhythms innately support and encourage each student’s personal development in academics, the arts, athletics and social development.

There are nearly 300 boarding schools in the US and abroad offering a surprisingly varied menu of academic, social and extra-curricular options. There are traditional college preparatory boarding schools, schools which work exclusively with the younger student, schools which primarily support students with learning differences, and schools organized around a particular ethos or theme (e.g. military, single-sex, experiential, Quaker, international or post-graduate). 

Academic, emotional and social struggles can play a significant role in the development of a child, adolescent or young adult. When left unchecked, these struggles can impede a young person’s progress for years to come. Given our longstanding interest in matching each child’s particular needs to particular learning settings, The School Counseling Group has developed a specialty in working with children and young adults whose challenges require specialized therapeutic care and intervention to improve access to learning and emotional functioning. We operate from a strengths-based approach and believe that each student possesses unique strengths and capabilities. Throughout the years, The School Counseling Group has remained one of the nation’s most experienced and recognized education consulting firms that offer “special needs” placement services for therapeutic schools and programs.

We seek to combine the empathic, skilled and discrete services of an experienced consultant with each family and their clinical team. We help families navigate the ever-evolving and sophisticated world of therapeutic offerings, particularly given the unique stresses, complexity and language of this specialized universe. Our consultants spend significant time during the year traveling and personally visiting with therapeutic schools and programs throughout the country.

When a child’s emotional or behavioral struggles have exhausted local resources, families are often invited by their guiding clinicians to consider residential therapeutic options. During this process you will learn to differentiate among wilderness programs, specialty hospitals, treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools. If you are concerned about a young adult, you will also learn about programs that specifically support young adults struggling to individuate or “launch” into the world towards independence.

As is true with each of our service areas, proper assessment is vital to the process since that informs the direction of our search. After the initial consultation (and sometimes before we meet, if warranted), we will review relevant vital records, all recent neurological and/or psychological testing, recent discharge summaries, IEP materials, transcripts, report cards, etc. Equally important are the contacts we will make with relevant professionals you designate as essential in gaining a fuller sense of the child in clinical, social and academic settings. Whenever possible, we will also want to conduct interviews with the students themselves. While we recognize that this cannot always be accomplished, we do seek to involve the student as much as we can.

Once a child is placed, we remain closely in touch with program personnel in order to have a solid working understanding of overall progress as well as gain important insights from treatment. Remaining current with therapeutic goals and progress enables us to work towards each client’s needs upon transition. When appropriate or desired, we will work with you to identify an optimal “step-down” transition school or program when recommendations are made by the treating clinician and/or treatment team before discharge.

The treatment process can be challenging, and it can be inspiring and hopeful. The pace of change varies from individual to individual. The best outcome is one in which family members remain aligned and commit to work closely and collaboratively with their treatment team. A consultant gives you an experienced guide who acts as a vital middleman during this process. Our hard-earned, longstanding reputation for integrity and for successful collaboration with programs has earned us their respect and offers both balance and objectivity. We have the skill and the experience to help you navigate this unpredictable process with comfort and confidence to achieve the best outcome possible. 

Our college counseling services are highly individualized and cater to the needs of each student and family. Some families seek initial guidance as early as 8th or 9th grade (though more typically in 10th or 11th) to learn about topics such as course selection, extracurricular activities, summer plans, standardized testing, writing the college essay, and the myths and realities of a selective college admissions process. There is tremendous anxiety and misinformation about the college selection process and our view is that accurate information and thoughtful discussion helps relieve, rather than increase, anxiety and allows each student the opportunity to grow and achieve in healthy ways without the added pressure of worrying about whether or not they will get into a “good” college.

Understandably, our clients reflect the full gamut of college aspirants, from those families approaching a college search for the very first time to younger siblings of seasoned parents! We enjoy working with the precocious and motivated student as much as we treasure the timid, late-blooming or complicated learner. The college process represents an exciting and unique opportunity for each student to learn more about themselves while managing perhaps their first major life decision.

For years, we have successfully placed numerous students (throughout the US and abroad) expanding and refreshing our knowledge of schools from first-hand experiences, contact with admissions professionals and visits. We are skilled and prepared to help you with any aspect of the college search and application process, including the selection of appropriate colleges and universities, application and essay review, interview preparation, advocacy with college admissions counselors – and even post-graduate alternatives for students who may benefit from an additional year before college. 

The decision to embark on a gap year experience is an exciting one. These experiences often take place between high school and college but can even occur later in life. While taking a gap year has been a common practice for students in the UK and Australia, the number of American students choosing this option has been increasing in recent years.  More and more research has focused on this emerging trend in the United States and has proven that the benefits are many, from increasing an individual’s sense of self to improving one’s academic performance in college.

With thousands of programs available here and abroad, the process of narrowing down the options can be overwhelming. Whether looking for a semester or year-long program, our gap year counselor will help students explore various opportunities and provide support to parents throughout the process.

We know that no two students will plan the same gap year experience; each one will be unique and personalized based on a student’s interests and goals. For this reason, we spend time developing a strong rapport with our students and putting them at the center of the planning process. It is our belief that this solid relationship will allow us to create a gap year experience that will be the right fit for each individual and provide for a safe and meaningful time away.

Here are a few of the projects we have recently supported:

  • a culinary arts program in Paris
  • service work in Africa and South America
  • a high school semester at sea
  • a business internship in Australia
  • travel and meditation in India
  • documentary film production in Texas
  • language study in Spain and France
  • an outdoor leadership program in Patagonia
  • a pilgrimage on the El Camino Santiago in Spain
  • volunteering and working in the DC area.