Willows in the Wind

Community Subscriber
San Bruno
jrao [at] willowsinthewind.com

Willows in the Wind is a non-profit organization that supports families with teens and young adults in high risk situations. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Willows provides safe, structured support groups where parents can share with one another and find valuable resources about in-home programs, residential placement, and assistance with the transitioning home process. Willows In The Wind is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is currently 100% funded by parent donations.

Parent Reviews

Parents, please Sign in to post a review on this page.

I understand your situation—have lived it. Your teen sounds very much like they might have oppositional defiant disorder or reactive attachment disorder. No way to know for sure (or to rule out other even scarier diagnosis) without getting help from a psychiatrist or psychologist but since your kid isn't going to go see one, you could at least read up on these diagnosis online and see if it sounds to you like it fits. The other possibility is drug use—Jeckyll/Hyde behavior is pretty common for people who are on a getting high/going through withdrawal loop.

Given what I know of the kinds of issues you're describing this is not the sort of thing a kid just grows out of. Residential treatment centers and wilderness programs are a great idea for buying yourself some time while you work on figuring out what's happening as well as making plans for keeping yourself safe.

Check out willowsinthewind.com.  It's an invaluable resource for meeting other parents dealing with this and for getting advice on what to do next.


I totally agree Willows in the Wind is a great place to find families struggling with the same issues and getting advice and support. On Facebook there is a page called Wilderness Therapy and Residential Treatment Search Support. There are a lot of folks on there who have been down this road and others who are on it now. I would also make sure your child has a therapist and you have a family therapist as well. Its a hard road but there are more Warrior Parents out there than you would imagine! Take care


If you connect with Willows in the Wind you will meet and be able to speak with other parents who have been in a similar situation. Willows in the Wind is a non-profit parent support group for parents who have had teens or young adults in residential treatment, or who are considering it. In my experience, it is a group of very caring, thoughtful, smart, and dedicated parents I who have all dealt with extraordinarily difficult/ risky parenting challenges. It is so helpful to meet other parents who have been in the same boat and to share information and support with them.  Google Willows in the Wind and you will find lots of information and ways to connect. I wish you the best of luck.

A grateful Willows-in-the-Wind Parent of a child who flunked out of 2 high schools, was in residential treatment for over a year, and who now earns a 4.0 GPA in college.


I've been in this emotional and financial hell for more than 3 years, starting with hospitalizations, 5150's, local treatment centers and step-downs, PHP, IOP, and more than two years of out of state RTC. With time, tenacity, legal assistance, DREDF, and Willows in the Wind I have made it through the financial hell. The emotional hell remains, I guess for always.

Connect with Willows in the Wind and DREDF as a first step. Also get a copy of your statement of benefits/coverage from your health insurance, in electronic format is best. Get and keep the WRITTEN justification for treatment from the professionals. Learn what your recourse for disputes is with your insurer and look up the California Dept of Managed Health Care.

Hope we can connect through Willows.

Hang in there. It's awful, but can work out.


I lived through this exact experience with my 14 year-old daughter.  It is horrible.  You have to get your insurance company to let her stay. It's insane:  they kick her out of residential treatment, she attempts suicide, goes back to ER, back to residential, leaves before she's ready, until, I guess, she succeeds at suicide. If she's suicidal, you can't have her at home because you can't watch her 24 hours/day.  She needs to be in a residential facility.  I can share with you how I got the insurance company to keep her in residential.  Please ask the moderator for my contact info. Also, contact Willows in the Wind. They are a great resource and helped me find an educational consultant.  

Don't lose hope!  My kid got through this and is now 18, just finished freshman year in an out-of-state college, is thriving.  


I am so sorry your daughter is in crisis.  When a child/teen is in crisis the whole family is in crisis. You might consider attending a Willows in the Wind meeting for support and ideas for next steps, including therapeutic wilderness or residential programs.  Each situation is unique, but you will find that you are not alone, hear others's stories, and gain some references and resources for further support and treatment.  These meetings are fee (donations accepted), confidential, nurturing, and professionally run.  http://willowsinthewind.wixsite.com/willowsinthewind

A little over a year ago, my (ADHD, anxious, depressed) teen was medically unstable and on hospital watch with weekly pediatric weight checks for six weeks while waiting for intake at Stanford Eating Disorders Clinic.  My teen managed to avoid hospitalization (mostly by getting off the ADHD med), and was diagnosed with an eating disorder (ARFID, very different than anorexia or bulimia).  The whole process was traumatic.  The care at Stanford did not feel supportive or nurturing; it felt very one-dimensional and not dual- or multi-diagnostic appropriate.  The treatment offered at Stanford is considered the gold standard in eating disorder treatment and requires treating the whole family with a minimum of 16-20 week, weekly family therapy appointments.  My family would not agree to this.  I won't go into details (too many to briefly summarize), but we're (barely) managing while I continue to work toward long term teen and family stability and health.  It's a long process, but support is out there.  There is a caring community here to support you.  I am sending supportive thoughts your way.


Willows in the Wind is an amazing local resource to help with questions like this. They have monthly parent support groups where you can talk to and get insights from parents in all stages of their journey with struggling teens. Their website also has a lot of useful information.


There is a non-profit group that meets monthly in Los Altos, Oakland, and San Rafael.  It is called Willows in the Wind and is a support group for parents such as yourself, facing this decision, or after having placed their child in residential treatment.  Here is the website:  http://willowsinthewind.wixsite.com/willowsinthewind


Re difficult 15 year old girl: I was there last year and my heart goes out to you. I have found incredible support in Willows in the Wind. I generally attend their parent support group meetings 2x/ month, once in Los Altos and once in Oakland. I would be happy to talk to you by phone and/or to invite you to come to one of the next Willows meetings with me. You (and I) are not alone in having a challenging child! Let me know if I can be of help, as others have been for me.

Sending you moral support!


You might want to contact Willows in the Wind, which is a parent group with a lot of experience with residential treatment programs.  There are two monthly meetings, one of which is in Oakland.  Information about the monthly meetings  They are very kind and knowledgeable people.  http://willowsinthewind.wixsite.com/willowsinthewind 


You might want to contact a group called Willows in the Wind, which was founded by parents whose children had gone to residential treatment of one sort or another.  Willows has monthly meetings, one in Los Altos Hills and the other in Oakland.  The Oakland meeting is usually held at Kaiser Oakland, but is not affiliated with Kaiser.  It a wonderfully supportive group and they have a lot of knowledge about programs.  Several years ago, I regularly attended meetings even though I could not afford to send my troubled teen daughter to a residential program.   I'd suggest contacting them and attending a meeting:  Jan Rao 650 868-1988 jrao [at] willowsinthewind.com (jrao[at]willowsinthewind[dot]com)   The website is http://willowsinthewind.wixsite.com/willowsinthewind

Best of luck to you and your family. 



Archived Q&A and Reviews


Seeking other parents with teens in Residential Treatment Centers

Jan 2016

Hi Families of BPN, I'd like to connect with other parents that have or had teens with an emotional disturbance placed in a residential treatment facility. I'm feeling very alone. Please no negative comments as calling this a nightmare would be a welcomed upgrade. Please just support from experienced members. Happy to connect privately, as I know this is a very private matter. Thank you. 

beyond broken-hearted

I feel your pain... I can remember feeling so alone,overwhelmed and sad. Consider checking out NAMI support group in Albany and support group in Oakland called Wind in the Willows. Both are free, look them up online. I found them helpful and supportive. Shojo

I am literally in the process of getting my son to RT right now, fortunately with the assistance of educational/therapeutic consultant, psychologists, attorney, and insurance specialist. Email me. Karen

Dear Beyond Broken Hearted,

I would be happy to meet with you for a cup of tea. Our daughter just started at a therapeutic boarding school--and staying home was not an option in her case, either. We are hopeful and cautiously realistic; and doing a lot of hard, parallel work of our own. Hopefully responders will use ''wise mind'' and refrain from making disparaging remarks about RTCs when they don't know the details of your situation. Everyone means to be helpful, but blanket statements about any issue on BPN are generally unhelpful in my opinion, but particularly when parents are already feeling emotionally raw. At any rate, I imagine many other responders will tell you about a great organization called Willows in the Wind that is a support group for parents with kids at various stages of this process (wilderness, RTCs, transition home etc). I've been going for a few months and it's such a relief to be with the only other people in the world who understand what you're going through. Next meeting is this coming Saturday, January 16th--1:00pm to 3:00pm at the Kaiser Oakland SMOB Medical Building 3600 Broadway, Lower Level, Conference Room C. The meetings are free, though a small donation helps keep this parent-initiated group going. You can park in the Kaiser parking lot next to the Medical Building or up the street. If you decide to go, contact one of the founders, I will get in touch with Janet and let her know you can contact me through her. Take a deep breath and take good care of yourself. We're there too.

Please consider attending a Willows in the Wind Support Group. http://willowsinthewind.wix.com/willowsinthewind#!oakland-ca/c71w Susan Miltner

Hello, I would like to invite you to our support group, Willows in the Wind. Willows is a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with parents with children in residential care or who are considering placement. Our monthly meetings provide parents with an opportunity to learn about treatment options in order to make informed decisions regarding their child's care. This includes in-home intervention, hospitalization, wilderness, residential treatment, or transition/after-care programs. By providing hope and guidance through each stage of treatment, Willows works with parents to provide the resources they need to move forward. Meetings are structured for the concerns of the participants and recognizes the need for family healing. It's a wonderful opportunity to connect with a group of parents on a similar journey.

Oakland Parent