Please review the following letters to professionals around the country who work with at-risk teens and families. In them, you will get a greater understanding of how ITS works with therapists, wilderness therapists, and adolescents treatment settings.


Letter to Professionals

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to tell you about my therapeutic consultation practice for helping at-risk teens, young adults and their families and to inquire about your practice or services. I am interested in learning about what you do and want to see how we can collaborate together.

I am a therapeutic consultant with 15 years experience guiding teens and their families when support and a new direction are needed. If the adolescent’s behavior isn’t too unsafe or out of control, I provide assessment, guidance, and support for teens and their families, and help them develop an appropriate “Home Plan” through coordination with local treatment providers, such as you. My goal is always to support the teen’s success at home.

If the teenager is unable to improve using a “Home Plan,” or if the situation requires an immediate assessment for residential treatment, I carefully prepare an “Away Plan.” I work in the family’s best interests by referring them to the highest quality outdoor therapeutic (“wilderness”) programs, therapeutic boarding schools, or residential treatment centers across the country. I do not refer to “boot” camps.

I refer teens and their families to relationship-based programs who support my practice of healing the family. I maintain intimate knowledge of the many schools and programs nationally, travel frequently, and have personal, trusting relationships with the best therapists and professionals in the field.

I am the family’s objective advocate and bring a relationship-based, family-centered approach to my practice. I am opposed to the powerful entities within the industry that treat families as commodities, warehouse teens, and neglect the family system. I serve the families’ best interests and not the mechanisms that secure me more referrals.

Unique to this field, and as part of my family systems’ philosophy, I provide an ongoing, weekly Parent Support Group and a Teen Aftercare Group where people share their stories, provide emotional support, give helpful feedback, have fun, and build a positive peer culture and sense of camaraderie.

What separates my services and experience from others who do this work?

  • My training and assessment abilities as a psychotherapist
  • My family systems’ emphasis on healing the family (not just the teen)
  • My parent support and teen aftercare groups
  • My 15+ years of experience working with teens at most levels, including as a wilderness therapist

I accept no referral fees from any program or individual.

Please keep me in mind if you know of a teen and family that needs help. I have enclosed a brochure for your review. I hope we can talk soon so that I can learn more about your work and potential areas for collaboration.


David Heckenlively, MS, MFT


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Letter to Wilderness Programs

To whom it may concern:

I am writing because I provide a unique service that could benefit your students. I offer a therapeutic consulting practice to teens and families that provides the highest level of assessment, guidance and support before, during, and after their teen participates in top-notch therapeutic programs and boarding schools, such as yours.

Therapeutic Consultation

I am different from most educational consultants because I combine traditional educational consulting with a psychotherapy practice. As an educational consultant, I refer teens and their families to the highest quality academic and therapeutic schools and programs around the coun try. I visit programs continually and have developed relationships of integrity and respect with hundreds of adolescent treatment professionals.

As a licensed psychotherapist, I bring to my practice over 15 years of experience helping at-risk teens and families. Besides being held to higher clinical and ethical standards, I am also trained to foster wellness within the family system by providing on-going weekly support groups for parents and returning teens. I offer families comprehensive wrap-around services that significantly raise the success rates of the teens in therapeutic settings and beyond!

Parent Support Groups

I find one of the most rewarding aspects of my practice is my on-going, weekly education and emotional support groups for parents. Parents begin the group immediately when they are concerned about their at-risk teen and participate while the teen is in therapeutic programs, such as wilderness therapy and boarding school. I watch parents bond, sharing stories and strategies. They start to take steps toward their own wellness. To further support the parent’s growth, I offer individual and couples counseling. I also refer parents to yoga classes, body healers, and other health providers. As you know, the healthier the parents get in terms of mind, body, heart and soul, the greater chance for the overall health of the entire family!

Teen Aftercare Groups

I facilitate an aftercare group for Bay Area teens called Teen Wisdom with other adolescent therapists. This group provides support, mentoring, and fun activities for teens that have returned home. Teens help one another and provide the same kind of positive peer experience that you initiated and cultivated. I reinforce the value of accountability to self, family and others into my group process

I look forward to the opportunity to work with one of your families. I work with families throughout the country (30% are non-Californians). I provide reasonable fees, a sliding scale, and clinical billable hours so parents can seek insurance reimbursement. Please ask me if you’d like parent references about the work I do or call if you have any questions.

Let’s connect soon to talk more about how my approach fits with your style and program.


David Heckenlively




Solutions and Support for At-Risk Teens and Their Families
David R. Heckenlively, MS, MFT
CEO and Therapeutic Consultant