Resource: Family Business Institute

Whether things are going great or you are having some challenges, the Family Business Institute is a fantastic resource for those of you with a family business. The Family Business Institute was created by a father/son-in-law team: Tom Campbell and Wayne Rivers. Tom worked in his own family radio business for 24 years with his father, mother, and two brothers, while Wayne spent a decade working in the financial planning industry. Their website is full of essential resources for both the business side and relationship side of your family business.

Here are some highlights from the Consulting page:

  • Business Assessment
  • Recession Planning
  • Succession Planning
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Business Valuations
  • Family Meetings and Retreats
  • Family Governance

If you are like many other family-run businesses and are considering if and how to transition your business to the next generation, contact the Family Business Institute for guidance. They also have a ton of articles and tools on their Resources for Family Businesses page.

While Fonthill Counseling excels at keeping families together and healthy, the Family Business Institute are the experts for keeping family businesses together and healthy.

Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Giving Tuesday, Small Business Saturday

To celebrate the post-holiday buying bonanza, we decided to put together some analysis on why we see all of these new ‘shopping holiday’ pop up.

1. Hurd Mentality: Lots of research has shown that when individuals are disconnected and feel disconnected, they are less likely to participate. Organizing these shopping holidays is a way to say “Hey Ms. Johnson, everyone else is heading out to the mall today at 4am, you should too!” And it works. When we are cued to believe that others are engaging in an act, we are more likely to engage as well.

2. Boredom: Let’s face it, family can get real boring after two or three days. Shopping is a way to distract us from the lame stories and hours of football. There are only so many inappropriate jokes Uncle Jake can tell before everyone loses it.

3. Economic Pressure: Businesses are needing to compete more and more for smaller slices of a shrinking pie (not sure if that even makes sense). But you know what we mean. In their ever-desperate attempt to catch eye-balls and credit cards, businesses both large and small have to not only act creatively but also group up. Rather than leveraging other businesses, they are using the psychology of groups to bring people in.

4. Divided Demographics: We are becoming a splintered society (in terms of how we spend money). We use to act like good little consumers, drive our station wagons to the mall and walk out exhausted and in debt with lots of bigs bags. Now, there are a gazillion ways to get in debt (or shop responsibly if you’re one of those types). These shopping holidays are a way to take aim at multiple layers of the SES (socioeconomic status) simultaneously. Don’t like to do laps at Nordstrom’s? Jump on to Amazon for Cyber Monday. Want to test drive that new iPad mini? Hit up Best Buy. There is no more hiding – retailers can find you where ever you are.

Good luck, have fun but please take it easy, Easter is only a few months away.



When Your Teen is in Treatment During the Holidays – What to Do?

Sometimes, your teen is stuck in residential treatment right through some of the biggest family holidays which makes it tough for everyone. Below are some simple solutions for how to include your acting-out teen in your holidays and let them know they’re not alone.

1. Video Chat: This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many of our clients   don’t ask (and are not offered by the treatment facility) for access to some sort of video chat solution. Since we assume you both have iPhones, you could set up Facetime on a specific date/time when family and friends will be around the home. Then there are options like Google Voice (and Video Chat). Free, easy and comes as part of most Google apps accounts now. Then you have your classic video services like Skype and ooVoo. If you own your own business and use GoToMeeting, this is another great solution which also means you can invite others to join in even when they’re somewhere else.

2. YouTube Greetings Card: Send your friends and family free greeting cards and youtube birthday cards. These funny e cards made with flash animation are the perfect way to do something different to show you care. Send one of these free online greeting cards to someone and make them smile (or cry) or post it on their facebook.

3. E Cards: While this is still an online solution, it’s moving towards a more traditional format. These cards require your teen to have access to their email account or Facebook. Our favorite e cards come from Funny and irreverent, they will definitely make your son or daughter pause and smile. Here are some other e card options (just to be fair); Blue Mountain and E-Cards.

4. Holiday Cards: Now we are full-tilt traditional…paper. You knew it was coming. But there is something really special about getting a card in the mail, especially when your son or daughter has been in treatment for months. Here are some nice options for putting together something meaningful from the family; Use iPhoto and create your own card. Your family could take several pics during a gathering and then you upload them (or is it download?) into an iPhoto greeting card, calendar or small book that actually gets printed and sent. Hallmark also has similar product.

5. Care Package: Not your old-fashioned wrapped nuts and fruits in a wicker basket. We also are not talking about ordering something online. Get together several simple, small items your teen would like or need and put into a creative container like a Nalgene, metal tins, small metal bucket or nice little tupperware. Make sure you send things that comply with the facility’s rules (ie. no pocket knives, candles). If they are very residential-based, an   iTunes card along with small picture frames and 3M hanging hooks might be a nice little gift. Wilderness based? Send them things like lip balm, glove liners, nice socks. There are plenty of little nick-nacks at REI.

6. Surprise Visit: This only works, obviously, if their treatment schedule allows. It’s normally best to have family stay at a local hotel and surprise your teen rather than surprising them with bringing them home for the holidays. Before you go – Check with the facility and coordinate with the clinicians and treatment team to ensure they are totally aware of your plans. Don’t show up and wing-it. Plan out the trip and make it a short trip (like two days). Find local interesting destinations and schedule things tightly so there isn’t too much down time. If you have a case manager, they can act as a concierge and help coordinate not only your travel plans but also work with the facility to make sure they’re on board.

Finally, don’t feel like you owe your teen something special during the holidays. More than likely, they made some pretty bad choices to get them in treatment and this is the consequence of their actions – being away from friends and family they love. This is also a good thing for them to long for home. Hopefully, this will help motivate them to stay focused on changing their behavior and get back quickly.



Mental health and substance abuse treatment available at the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland

For those of you in Ohio, we thought you would appreciate a change from all the political junk, especially since today is election day (unless you live in a place that has monkeyed around with polling laws). Here is some useful, practical info on a free clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to medical and dental care, the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland provides treatment for substance abuse and mental health at no cost to those without health insurance.

People addicted to alcohol and drugs can obtain intensive or nonintensive outpatient treatment as well as one-on-one counseling. To begin treatment, call 216-707-3500, ext. 1709, to schedule an initial appointment.

Those 18 and older with mild to moderate mental health conditions can obtain individual, family and relationship counseling as well as psychiatric services and, in some cases, medication.

Adults with more serious mental illness are addressed case by case and referred to other doctors if the Free Clinic cannot help them.

To begin that treatment, call 216-707-3500, ext. 1626, to schedule an initial appointment.

Starting early next year, the Free Clinic will accept Medicare and Medicaid patients for all types of care.

The Free Clinic is in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood at 12201 Euclid Ave. More information about it can be found at

Fonthill Opens Apex, NC Clinical Office

In partnership with Access Healthcare, an innovative medical practice in Apex, NC, Fonthill Counseling has opened their second office specializing in individual, family and group counseling. In addition, screenings and assessments for mental health and substance abuse related issues will be provided. Most of Fonthill’s services out of the Apex office will have the option of being conducted in the office or in the comfort of your home.

This is a great opportunity to create a true continuum of care outside of the sterile hospital setting and far from the grip of insurance companies that dictate services and severely limit options. Because of the partnership, Fonthill has significantly reduced rates for private pay clients of Access Healthcare and their neighbors.

For more information, contact us here.

Cheat Sheet from NATSAP Southeast Regional Conference Presentation

Below is the full, cranked-up cheat sheet from Rob Danzman’s presentation (Understanding and Working with Affluent Clients: Surprising Findings, Best Practices and Effective Strategies) given on October 18 at the NATSAP Southeast Regional Conference in Asheville. We added some juicy bonus information and links to spice it up a wee bit. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Current Research and Findings

1. Substance Abuse

Children of wealthy parents tend to have higher rates of alcohol and marijuana use than their poorer counterparts.  Researchers believe this is due to multiple factors:

a. Money: Increased access to money without having to earn it or pay it back.

b. Supervision: Lack of adult supervision especially after school creates an environment of boredom and poor reinforcement of rules and boundaries.

c. Self-Medication: Increased use of substances to relieve anxiety and stress associated with achievement pressures.

2. Mental Health

Some of the major issues include entitlement, anxiety, depression, eating disorders (male/female are both at risk), and narcissism. Here’s where many of these issues originate:

a. Over-scheduled: They work hard on academics and generally feel over scheduled. There is significant pressure for achieving public success.

b. Only Children: They have fewer siblings and often were not raised with the need to share and have limits the way other children are.

c. Parental Critique: One of the most significant issues found in most of the research highlighted parental criticism. Having high standards is important for kids, but research showed that affluent parents will often push and push for greater and greater test scores, athletic success and social placement. Parents see a correlation between childhood success (grades, soccer, violin, etc.) with college success and, ultimately, career success. We could go one step further and say that the ultimate success parents are looking for is that of how the child contributes to the family’s legacy. Going to Harvard and becoming a respected attorney entrenches and builds the family’s prestige.  Unfortunately, this pressure overwhelms many kids and adult children.

3. Access

For many reasons, mental health and substance abuse services can often be easier to get for poor families due to a significant safety net system created by Medicaid, Medicare, HealthChoice as well as churches and local schools. Fonthill started out as a medicaid provider to families and, ironically, the same service we provided initially were not available to wealthier counterparts due to income limits. Poorer families can move up and down levels of care (outpatient up to hospitalization), get medication, therapy, family therapy, case management, etc. with little difficulty. The family see’s virtually no bills and no paperwork.

Another phenomenon is that, though in their financial best interest, many therapists report they do not like working with wealthier clients. There is a perception that a wealthy client does not appreciate the great life they have. This is addressed in further detail below.

4. Quality of Service

You would think that more money = more and better service. Not in mental health and substance abuse care. Many families’ first connection with services is through an outpatient therapist. Interesting research has found that a high percentage of therapists experience what is called schadenfreude – The enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. If we were talking about not wanting to work with Black people or Chinese people, we would be branded as racists. Yet, when therapists make fun of or diminish the pain wealthy individuals feel, it’s socially acceptable. Pain is pain and it’s unprofessional and just bad business to ridicule those we serve.

There certainly are high quality programs with commendable outcomes but, as a percentage, wealthier families have a much harder time finding high quality service. One reason is the significant gap between services which, for their lower Socioeconomic Status (SES) counterparts, is less of an issue due to continuums of care being mandated in many states for Medicaid clients.

Best Practices

This refers to what clinical staff as well as non-clinical staff (and management) can do from a clinical or ‘quasi-clinical’ perspective to support and promote progress among affluent clients.

1. Structure

Affluent parents thrive in their professional life while their personal life comes undone. They want and need us to be directive and not waver from what we know is the effective approach to treatment and services. They want to know that your program or service is tight and runs seamlessly. Being firm, direct and clear with your expectations for the parents as well as the children is essential. It will actually relax them to know that you do not compromise or waver on any issue.

2. Curiosity

Express interest and concern for the individual (yes, the parents as well as the acting-out teen sitting in your admissions office). Many of us assume that these people are constantly being supported or, if not, they can easily ask for support or share their thoughts and feelings. Just not true. Ask open-ended questions, even during intake or admissions when your primary job is to get client information or give them instructions. These open-ended questions can go a long way. What has it been like for you Mr. Johnson to try and balance a successful business while also trying to keep your daughter sober?

3. Nurture

Parents often feel the need to create or perpetuate the myth that ‘everything is ok.’ Let them know you are listening loudly and everything is not ok, that’s why they are in your office or on the phone with you. What is ok is them trusting you. Trust has been in short supply in their lives. Let them know things are not ok and that, over the coming months with the team’s help, things will become more and more ok. “Seems like you’ve been caught between doing what is best for the whole family and not wanting your son to feel like you are singling him out. This must be an incredibly challenging time for you.”

4. Treatment Models

Fonthill recommends that professionals (clinical, support or management) use the following treatment models due to their evidence of the effectiveness.

a. Family Systems: Here are the 8 concepts Dr. Bowen discusses as influence within a family system – Triangles, Differentiation of Self, Nuclear Family Emotional System, Family Projection Process, Multigenerational Transmission Process, Emotional Cutoff, Sibling Position, Societal Emotional Process. Having staff do a basic in-service on this would catapult their understanding of why families act the way they do.

b. Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Developed by Dr. Beck, Cognitive Therapy (CT), or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), is a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist and the client work together as a team to identify and solve problems. Therapists use the Cognitive Model to help clients overcome their difficulties by changing their thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. Cognitive therapy has been found to be effective in more than 1000 outcome studies for a myriad of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse, among others, and it is currently being tested for personality disorders.

c. Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a treatment designed specifically for individuals with self-harm behaviors, such as self-cutting, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide, and suicide attempts. Many clients with these behaviors meet criteria for a disorder called borderline personality disorder (BPD). Recent research shows that DBT is also effective in treating substance abuse, depression, anxiety and numerous other issues. DBT is  great for staff to use in their professional as well as personal lives. DBT is more like an instruction manual for life rather than a cold, scripted way to solve or process a problem.

Effective Strategies

Professionals and programs are not just made up of clinical programming and require some tailored approaches that come from the world of consumer psychology and marketing specifically regarding the affluent community. Ignore the following section at your own peril.

1. Identify the Boss

This may not be the parents calling on the phone or sitting in your office. Sometimes, grandparents have the power, write the checks and have veto power over what services are allowed. Sometimes there is a Special Needs Trust with several trustees that must sign-off on everything. Get curious about ALL of the stakeholders in the family. Fontill staff do this within the first few meetings/sessions/contact in the form of a genogram (family tree).

2. Target Wants vs. Needs

What you about to read is heretical within therapeutic circles. It disrupts the stogy, dusty, old philosophy that mental, behavioral health and substance abuse interventions should be treatment-focused and marketed on their interventions and outcomes. Fair enough. But we live in an age when we know more about how people make decisions and the rules for how to communicate about products and services are being constantly rewritten one industry at a time. Enough of ranting, let’s get you some solid advice…

Most programs target and sell their services to needs of the families (ie. Length of program, therapy sessions, what type of evidence-based model is used) instead of speaking to their wants (ie. Hope, safety, progress, return on investment). Seems counterintuitive but these parents can’t be expected to really tell the difference between all the great (and not so great) programs. They look the same on the websites, brochures and even on site. The main difference can come when program staff speak on an emotional level to families – connect at their core rather than rattling off program features – tell how the program features eleviate pain, fear, and instill hope and change and investment in the families’ future.

Staff should learn about the lifestyles of wealthy families (ie. Visit lateral websites like BMW, PelligrinoCoachWhole FoodsUmstead Hotel). Each of these examples is selling a promise of what you will experience and feeling when you buy their stuff.

3. Customer vs. Client

Families would prefer to be treated like valued customers rather than parents of clients. They want to be informed, but they also want to be treated like the substantial amount of money they are paying you grants them exclusive, members-only access. You and your staff are consultants, concierges and customer service reps rather than LCSWs, LPCs, and LCASs. Differentiate between clinical info and customer service. This ties nicely into our little piece above about speaking to their wants more than to their needs. 

4. Use Better Language

Use correct, effective, and positive terminology. Here are some sample word make-overs

Investment  vs. Cost

Exclusive  vs.  Availability

Concierge Service  vs. Instructions

Orchestrated  vs. Planned

Artisan  vs.  High Quality


Want More Detailed Information? There is much more we could cover but this list should get you and your staff headed in the right direction. For a comprehensive list of most of the research published over the last 20 years, contact us here and ask for Affluent Studies Research List. We’ll send you a PDF of what we’ve got. 

Want Your Staff Trained? For more information on working with the unique needs of affluent families, contact us here and ask for more information about having Rob Danzman come and speak or train your staff. He is available for half and whole day staff training and management consultation to make sure that your resources are used in the most effective ways.



Halloween Safety: What Parents Can Do

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy dork, it’s time to talk about some (updated)  considerations for keeping your teens safe during Halloween. No, we’re not talking about that stupid fear of razor blades in your Snicker’s bar. Below is a list of some contemporary ways kids and parents can protect themselves during Halloween.


1. Watch Your Drink

I know your teen doesn’t drink at parties, but it’s not a bad idea to give them a heads up to keep their drinks with them if they are at a larger party (not a bad idea to give a heads up to your Freshman either). If their drink tastes funky or it looks cloudy or if some weirdo was hanging out a wee-bit too close to it, encourage them to dump it and get a new one.


2. Pair Up

Whether they are going to a party, trick-or-treating, or just hanging out, make sure they are with specific people they know and trust. We don’t expect them to really understand how some wackos can be but it is fair to get numbers of people they will be hanging with in case their phone ‘accidentally’ gets turned off.


3. Where and When

Teens need freedom. Teens need to be able to hang out with friends without lame parents.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t expect them to provide actual info on where they will be and when they will be there (as well as when will they get home). Agree on a time either you will call/text them or they will contact you.


4. Devil’s Night

Ok, I never understood the appeal of trashing my home town or neighbors’ homes but apparently it still is popular. If your youngin is heading out the night before Halloween (Oct 30) make sure they stay away from spots in your town or city where jack-asses tend to tear it up. LA and Detroit are notorious cities where arson and vandalism grip the communities. Way too many people get way too drunk and drive way too many miles on Devil’s Night. Don’t let your son or daughter become a statistic. 


5. Watch Your Posts

Everyone will be posting updates on where they are, where they’re partying and what they’re wearing. We ask parents to just give a reminder to post cautiously so that the wrong people don’t show up to parties or try to catch up with them while walking around town. It’s an easy time for sketchy people to take advantage of kids and Facebook and Instagram can make it way easier for them to be found.


Have fun.

Book Review: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

This book is about getting over an eating disorder, how the author did it, how they helped thousands of others do it, and how they hope to help you or a loved one do it, too. They took on this project because they want to share what they learned, provide practical strategies and examples of what really works, and offer their own experience and that of their clients to facilitate your recovery process.

Here’s a quick review from the author’s site:

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience is for anyone with an eating or body image problem. You don’t have to meet any formal diagnosis to benefit from this book. If you restrict, binge, purge, excessively diet or weigh yourself, exercise compulsively, or engage routinely and obsessively in any other food- or weight – related behaviors, the eight keys can help you get on, and stay on, the road to recovery. Although 8 Keys is a self-help book intended for those suffering from an eating disorder, it will also be informative and useful for family, friends, and professionals.

The thing that’s most interesting is the author’s transparency, honesty and structure in this essential resource for those of you struggling or anyone who know’s someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. This book is the type of support that is personal and can be read over and over, gathering little tidbits throughout each chapter. Eating disorders are a symptom of wealth and privilege but no less significant and debilitating. The author clearly knows what she’s talking about.

Thumbs up by Fonthill. Buy the book here.

Infographic: Cyberbullying

Definition: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation (PA), Parental Alienation Syndromw (PAS), or Hostile Aggressive Parenting

A constellation of behaviors by parents or caregivers that may impact children’s mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

Both verbal or non-verbal behaviors can intentionally or unintentionally cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided.

PA behaviors deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well meaning mental health clinician) can become abusive to the child – as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and often frightening, to the child, and can disenfranchise children of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychological coping skills.

Here is the formal definition as stated by Dr. Richard Gardner who was one of the original proponents of defining and fighting PAS

    The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.


Here’s what we typically see the child exhibiting

  1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
  2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
  3. The child is sure of himself or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
  4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
  5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
  6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
  7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.
  8. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.


What to do if you think PAS is impacting your family

Educate Yourself

The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Conceptual, Clinical And Legal Considerations is one of the most definitive guides on PAS. It’s used by legal professionals, mental health professionals and family members.  This is the standard reference work that examines the growing social problem of children who develop an irrational hatred for a parent as the result of divorce. Resources should provide detailed information such as clinical, legal and research perspectives from respected contributors representing views from multiple countries and cultures. Resources should also address the effects of PAS on parents and children, discuss issues surrounding reconciliation between parent and alicnated child and includes material published for the first time on incidence, gender and false allegations of abuse in PAS.

Talk with your attorney

Not every family that has unhappy kids and parents has PAS going on. Ask them their understanding of PAS, history with previous cases where PAS was suspected, and what the outcomes were. Do not be affraid to shop around to find a sympathetic attorney. Having someone that believes in you will be critical. Here’s an example of the new breed of attorneys that specialize in PAS.

Talk with a mental health professional

Find someone that really understands PAS and all it’s manifestations. You will definitely need support and evidence that a clinician can provide. We especially working with professionals that know how to develop and maintain a team of professionals. Coordination with your attorney if vital.

Talk with your children

Ask them what is working and not working in your family. Encourage them to confidentially share their thoughts and feelings with a therapist or school counselor if they don’t feel comfortable talking with you.