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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Healing Arms of Mother Nature

By Stephen C. Schultz


The air was thin and cool. Stars speckled the sky as the faint flashing strobe of a commercial airline silently glided across cosmos. The leaves rustled in a slight breeze that carried the un-mistakable hum of crickets through the canyon. I turned and noticed the feather of a “Bird of Prey” dangling from the limb of a pine. There was a nervous energy that seemed out of place in such calm surroundings.



This was the beginning of an early morning Phase Review for three students who were enrolled at Oxbow Academy. They stood at the trail-head a little disheveled and groggy. The boys circled up and had a brief conversation with the therapists about situations in their lives where they have made some decisions that actually betrayed the trust of their parents and other loved ones. In fact, some their behaviors have been downright painful for others to endure.

The conversation then moved to the various struggles of life. The therapists pointed out that the trail they would hike represented “Life’s Journey”. Then without another word, they were off, hiking up the trail.


The boys started off at a good pace. Things were pretty smooth and the focus was strong. About fifty yards into the hike, at a very steep incline; one boy started to demonstrate fatigue and started to slow down due to the rocky terrain. He stepped off the trail and leaned against a tree. He was whining and complaining about how hard it was. He mentioned this isn't what he was expecting and that he is not an outdoors type of kid. He was trying every trick in the book to get the therapists to say he could just go back to the car. Then the conversation turned to what he would say or do with his parents when things got hard. There was silence…then one slow step…then another. He was back on the trail and slowly making his way to the top.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Food for Thought on Young Adult Career Development

By Stephen C. Schultz


The smell of roasted turkey filled the room with just a hint of sage. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie lined the counter. I was sitting on the couch having a conversation with my brother Dr. Jared Schultz. He and his family were visiting for our annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner.




My brother is a professor and assistant dean at a local university. His specialty is in rehabilitation counseling.  My career has consisted of close to 30 years working in the field of addiction counseling and mental health services. My other brother Scott Schultz is an estate planning attorney in Eugene, Oregon. He has spent years advising and counseling with families on the best ways to facilitate caring for dependents and family members who struggle with failure to launch, substance abuse and other physical disabilities. As parents begin to move through retirement, this process of planning is crucial for managing family financial resources and protecting the family legacy. My oldest daughter Stephanie has a unique duel degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Stephanie is currently heading up a special education classroom of 12-14 year old students with mild to moderate disabilities. She made an interesting observation just this last weekend when she said,

“You know, I’m working with the same population in my classroom, just at a slightly younger age.”

I mentioned to Jared at dinner that there were some common parental concerns. These included helping their teens and young adults make the transition to a self-supporting, responsible, productive member of society. Often this is a subtle struggle after receiving substance abuse or mental health services that grows in severity over time. While in the process of dealing with clinically complicated concerns, they have no opportunity to focus on career and educational aspirations. When the treatment interventions are no longer the focus, they then feel behind in their social and career development and get discouraged. Many young adults in the “Failure to Launch” population fall into this category.

Historically, there have been two competing avenues for receiving career and vocational services. They each come with government bureaucracy and generally poor customer service; leaving families feeling overwhelmed and uncared for. Here is a little more information about government services.


General overview of State Services (USA)

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a program that is available to anyone with a disability provided that they;

1.      Meet State criteria and have a disability

2.      The disability is an impediment to employment

3.      They can benefit from services.


The vocational evaluations provided by the State consist of testing to assess the interests and abilities of the client. Sometimes the work and family values of the client are tested, but this is infrequent and varies from State to State and case worker to case worker. Case managers generally don’t make recommendations of support or train families on how best to support the client. You may have a local case manager say they do, but families expecting a moderate level of “customer service” will be disappointed.

By Federal Law, VR Services are available if a student meets the above requirements. However, in practice, parents find themselves being passed between the local VR agency and the school district. This is because Federal Law also regulates how Special Education services are provided through each school district. By law, special education accommodations and Individual Education Plans (IEP) must be provided up to the age of 22 based on severity of the disability.

For those students who are between the age of 18 and 22 this situation tends to be very frustrating. Families find themselves caught in the middle of school districts and VR services; with each saying the other agency is responsible for funding the services. Consequently, most families simply give up seeking services.

Because Public Rehab is a government run agency, there are some cultural and bureaucratic issues each family should be aware of:

1.      Delays in services. VR counselors have caseloads of 150 to 300. While they do the best they can, they simply can't provide customized and individualized service.

2.      Vended services. Because of heavy caseloads, VR counselors don't generally provide services directly. They vend with service providers in the field. The qualifications of those service providers are much lower, especially in providing employment services (most have a HS diploma, or possibly a BS). Additionally, they will be limited to the services available in the local area.

3.      The family may have limited involvement in the process. The public VR process is very focused on the individual, and they do not have much experience working with families per se. It really depends on the capabilities of the rehab counselor assigned to the case. (Families aren't able to “choose” their rehab counselor; the counselor is assigned…luck of the draw.)

4.      The family will have to go through the eligibility process. Students are required to wait until 1 year before high school graduation to apply for State VR services. Often, if the agency budget is limited, they go to what is called, "order of selection" which requires them by law to serve the more significant disabilities first. 

A Solution for Families


If your son or daughter has struggled with a disability of some kind or suffered with emotional, mental health or substance abuse concerns, then a private and personalized career evaluation is something that you may want to consider. Please click here to review this sample evaluation. It is an actual evaluation that Schultz & Associates, LLC was contracted to provide for a young man from Washington State.

Friday, October 3, 2014

When your young adult asks; What should I do?


Career Evaluation Report


Client: John Doe

Evaluator:
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (Certification #:00047679)
Utah Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (License #: 7558655-6101)
Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (Certification #: 0000096)


Evaluation Date: November 5, 2013
Evaluation Location: Anywhere, USA

Career Evaluation Referral:
John was referred for vocational evaluation, for the purpose of assessing his vocational interests, values, abilities, and social skills to assist in determining a vocational goal. A personal interview was conducted, and the Career Occupational Preference System (COPS), Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey (COPES), Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS), the Test of Interpersonal Competence for Employment (TICE), the Job Match Index (JMI), and the Career Maturity Inventory-Revised (CMI-R) were administered.

It should be noted that the recommendations contained within this report are based on consideration of all of the data collected through the assessment process. The scores from a single assessment tool should not be utilized exclusively in the determination of a vocational goal. Click here to review the results.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No More Dirty Diapers for Mom


By Pamela J. Schultz    
           

I silently groan as I stare at the laundry pile that has now escaped the boundaries of the baskets and is spilling over onto the laundry room floor.  “It’s actually able to creep under the door all by itself,” I mutter.  Yes, this is what my life has become.  Now, I actually talk to laundry!  I marvel at the abrupt changes my life has undergone since becoming a full time “stay at home mom” six years ago.



For one thing, I wouldn't have been caught dead in the sweat shirt and torn jeans I was wearing today.  Although I’d only been dressed about two hours, my sweatshirt already had juice stains, toast crumbs, and a nice blob of dried oatmeal on it from my 15 month old's breakfast, and, as for the jeans, well, they were comfortable. As recently as baby number two, I would have changed the stained sweat shirt, but, hey, after three kids I know it’s a wasted effort—the clean shirt will be dirty within the next hour, and besides, the sweat shirt thrown into the dirty basket would tip the delicate balance on the mountain of clothes already there, and they really would begin to move into my kitchen.  I give myself a little pep talk by remembering that I still put on makeup AND exercise.  Oh, and I wear earrings every day.  For some reason, this small bit of “accessorizing” makes me feel in tune with my former, super organized self.      

I have to admit that sometimes I wistfully think about all the designer suits and dresses that used to hang in my closet.  I used to be a working professional.  As a broker for one of the largest brokerage and mutual fund companies in the nation, I was knowledgeable about stocks, bonds, options, and mutual funds.  My conversation used to be littered with phrases such as, “The P.E. ratio on that particular stock is…”, “We’ll set your net credit and debit on your option spread order at…”  I now spend my day saying such things as, (to my son who just turned five while he’s in the bathroom) “Please aim it in the water!”, and to my 15 month old daughter, “Hello, pretty princess, mommy loves you so much.  Tell mommy what the dogie says,” as I proceed to loudly make every animal sound imaginable for her.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Healing at Zion National Park

By Stephen C. Schultz


Angie came running into the cafeteria at Discovery Ranch for Girls with a big smile on her face. “I just rode for the first time!” she exclaimed. The reddened and raw scars on her arms, the result of compulsive rubbing from a pencil eraser, were finally starting to heal.

I said, “That’s great! It must feel good to finally ride after so much work with the horse on the ground!”

She tipped her head to the side and with a twinkle in her eye responded, “Yeah…it does.”


I then changed the subject and asked, “You plan on going hiking tomorrow? I heard Jared has planned a fun trip hiking in Zion National Park.”

“Yeah, I plan to go. Most of the girls are going. Are you going with us?” she asked.

“I am.” I responded

I then mentioned, “People come from around the world to visit Zion National Park. It should be a fun time!”


The next day rolled around and all the girls were hanging out by the vans to load up and head off for the hike. I was impressed with the organization, safety and logistics it took to get 25 teenage girls organized for a day long trip. We were headed off  to the red rock mountains of Southern Utah.



I was amazed at the healing power of Mother Nature. There were no problems, teenage girl drama or bad attitudes. It was a thoroughly enjoyable time.

For those readers who have never been to Zion National Park, I have some pictures posted here I hope you enjoy. If you ever have a chance to visit, I highly recommend you make the trip. I have posted the itinerary on the next page to help with any online research you want to do.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Conversation about Teen Sexuality

By Stephen C. Schultz


(Editors note: This is a very sensitive subject and may be uncomfortable to read. Viewer discretion is advised. The application and information in this post is essentially focused on schools and therapeutic programs that have a residential component.)


The chairs were all in a half circle. There must have been over fifty, all filled with students. Banners from various colleges and universities hung from the rafters. The dull roar of multiple conversations all going on at the same time was cutting through the air and echoing off the walls. I stood in front of the crowd and waited. The conversations and dull roar slowly faded like a train disappearing into the distance.

All eyes were now on me. I asked one question;

“Who can tell me what grooming is?”



I have spent my career working with families and teens through some very difficult times. I am a partner in a specialty care facility called Oxbow Academy. Oxbow specializes in treating teenage boys from across the globe who are burdened with the socially sensitive concerns of sexual trauma, sexual abuse and sexual addiction.

Please allow me to share an experience with you that opened my eyes to a dynamic that is occurring in residential treatment settings as well as traditional boarding schools across this country and around the world. Technology plays such an integrated and important role in our lives every day, it’s difficult to realize there is a downside to technology use.

Children in today’s world are being exposed to “sexuality” in varying forms at an earlier and earlier age. Many of the boys enrolled at Oxbow Academy report being exposed to pornography as early as four years old. Some are able to manage this exposure in an age appropriate way. Others find themselves caught in a net of increasingly unhealthy compulsive behavior.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

“Out of the Mouth of Babes…”

By Stephen C. Schultz

In my line of work, I am made aware everyday of the struggles that teens endure and the pain families suffer. Often it seems we are fighting a losing battle.


There is no doubt, everyone has their own personal struggles and burdens to bare, my family included. However, some people seem to manage the struggles with grace, decorum and a sense of perspective that is inspiring to others.
Four out of the five posts below are written by my daughter. Over the last few years, from time to time, she has written a piece and then asks me if she can post it on my blog. I am happy and proud to do so! Please enjoy some of her written work.

My House Has Stars

Perfectly Wicked - A Fractured Fairy Tale

I can make a difference by helping others!

My Experience with Autism

Why should "Bullies" get all of the attention?