What's in a name? Well, apparently everything.

Nothing pains me more than to hear a parent tell me on the phone “until yesterday, I didn’t know someone like you even existed.” That statement is typically followed by audible sighs of relief for finally being connected to someone who can help ease the weight of their crisis. As a professional, I can’t help but bang my head against the wall with my efforts to raise awareness about the work I do. Apparently it’s still not working. Raising awareness means being able to help more who are hurting and struggling; it’s my own innate drive to help as many people as I can. My reactionary self wants to shout from the rooftops that “we’re here, and we do exist!” But there’s the catch - our name doesn’t necessary match the work we do.

On my business card you’ll see under my name, my profession is listed as “Therapeutic Consultant.” When I originally launched my business I went with the industry norm in being called an “Educational Consultant.” I was quickly asked how many adolescents I was navigating through the college process. My answer was always, and will be always be, “none.” That’s the furthest from the work I do. My consulting business is strictly for therapeutic placements. The work I do is with young adults only and their families. The young adults I’m hired to help are mostly struggling with co-occurring issues related to their mental health and substance use. The common theme is a young adult who is struggling with launching into adulthood. Regardless, “Educational Consultant” does not do justice to the work I do. So begs the question, what’s a better name?

A professional outside of my industry offered for me to try on the title “Young Adult Transitional Coach.” At first, I let that marinate. It felt very millenial-esque, yet very quickly it didn’t fit for me either. I didn’t want to get lumped into those who do coaching full-time. Not to mention, if anyone actually have that as a title. If so, please send me a private message as I’d love to connect to learn more about you! The closest I’ll ever get to coaching (again) is the high school girls soccer team in Denver that I did for a couple years. When it comes to my clients or their parents needing coaching, I lean on Coaching professionals to help. Sometimes I feel like I’m a Case Manager, yet that makes me think of a community social worker. I’ve been toying with the idea of “Behavioral Healthcare Navigator.” I want to tread lightly because I don’t want families to think I’m a health insurance expert in knowing which treatment programs will be covered. Again, that’s a separate call to another professional group that I’ll add to the team if that’s a priority for the family. That’s not my specific role. What I can help with though, is getting a family connected to someone who can help.

In a nutshell, this is what I do:

  • Gather information to paint a picture of what is needed for treatment and therapeutic support by connecting with all current professionals and concerned parties in the life of the young adult (ie parent, professor, therapist, etc.).

  • If no information can be provided due to an client never having received mental health care, connect family with local resources including by not limited to Therapist with specific training and expertise that would be helpful for the client, Group Therapy, Mentoring, Life Coaching, Psychologist for testing, and/or Psychiatrist.

  • Should the client needs a higher level of mental health support immediately due to an emergency situation (ie hospital discharge), I ease the weight of the crisis by researching placements and presenting program recommendations to family and young adult that are best-fitting for their needs and has availability.

  • Provide Case Management with family, program staff, and young adults while in treatment. Constantly looking ahead to the “next steps” for continued care and support for the needs of the entire family.

  • Travel constantly to visit potential programs ensuring that I am recommending ethical programs to the families I work with. These programs include: residential treatment, wilderness therapy, young adult transitional programs, detox, recovery programs, sober living, mentoring programs, and anything unique that could be ideal for a specific client.

Why this is continuously tugging on me is because when parents go to Google to ask for resources, we don’t pop up. Period. A family might be really lucky if they end up connecting with a Therapist who happens to know about our profession. This is not an anomaly, yet it’s few and far between. That means we rely heavily on all clinicians to know we exist. Not shocking to hear, few do. In fact, a lot of them don’t.

In the end, I know the work I do is imperative to the families I help. Whatever they want to refer to me as, I won’t ever correct them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion is categorizing me into how they see me in helping them. Maybe one day I’ll end up working for a very creative family who will help me solve this puzzle for myself. Who will hit the name on the head for titling our profession, spreading awareness, and subsequently helping to connect more families to this type of resource. For now, I’ll continue to settle with “Therapeutic Consultant.” When someones asks me to clarify what that means, which to be clear happens every single time I’m asked about my profession, I’ll happily share. To try to summarize, I help young adults and families get connected to the most appropriate therapeutic supports, and no young adult is the same in what they need. Realistically though, I hope they have more than three minutes to listen because it’s not a simple elevator speech in describing the work that I do.

If you or someone you know is in need of finding a Therapeutic Consultant, search for someone who can help here: Therapeutic Consulting Association.

For anyone looking for additional resources around mental health, substance abuse, college transition coaching, or parent resources you can find them on: https://www.lilley-consulting.com/ or follow @lilleyconsulting, or https://www.facebook.com/LilleyConsultingLLC/.