Help by Phone

Help by Phone

The best way to help a troubled child is to help their parents.

Margaret Puckette parent counselor

The mental health system does not help the most important individuals in a child’s life–the parents or guardians who will be the long-term safety net for child’s entire life. Mental health providers focus on the child as a separate individual, and aren’t prepared or able to train parents in therapeutic techniques their child needs, support them emotionally in the process.

From my own experience raising a mentally ill child, inadequate knowledge and lack of support seriously hurt my ability to be a good parent because I simply didn’t know what to do or how.  Add in stress and grief, I really struggled to figure things out on my own or put them into practice, and I made many mistakes.

Mental health treatment should never be a do-it-yourself project

I’m dedicated to helping you turn your lives around and create a therapeutic home for your family.  You, and how you parent, can genuinely improve your child’s condition.  I have witnessed this after years of study, training, counseling, and working with hundreds of parents like you.  A professional parent counselor can quickly put you on a better path.  You can master new approaches and techniques that reduce problems and support your child’s and family’s wellbeing.  They aren’t a “quick fix”, but they work.

Parenting a troubled child is a completely different process than parenting a typical child.  Traditional approaches do not work–commonsense things like praise, logic, incentives and disincentives, reasoning, and fairness will not improve a troubled child’s behavior… they don’t even work at all.

Let’s talk  

If your family is struggling and nothing is working, I can help you make breakthroughs with sound advice and techniques used by professionals that you can apply at home.  You will also get insights into how other parents have managed, and how your child’s life may unfold over time.

For counseling sessions outside the U.S. and Canada, calls can be set up via Skype.

There are no simple answers, but I promise you will feel relieved and hopeful after your first call.  

Start by telling me your Story and answering questions at the bottom of this page.  I will contact you shortly to discuss how we can work together and help you help your child.

If you have general questions, email me at:  Read about my personal and professional experience here, and testimonials from clients.

Getting Started

1.   Tell me your Story

What do you need right now?  What’s going on with your child?  We can save much time on our first call if I know something about your situation ahead of time.  You may find that writing this down will give you insights into your situation.  If helpful, I can contact you in advance for a free 30-minute conversation prior to any appointment to see if you are comfortable working with me.

2.  Set up a meeting

I will contact you as soon as I receive your Story.  We can set up a time that’s convenient for you, including evenings and weekends.  If appropriate, I strongly encourage a couple to be on the call.  It is not appropriate for me to speak directly with your child however.  This is about you and what you need to do as a parent.

3.  Payment

I prefer payment in US$ using PayPal.  When you are ready, you can click the PayPal button to make a payment.  We can make other arrangements if you prefer not to use PayPal.


Single phone session – $175 for a 90-minute session, which includes any follow-up calls, emails, or texts if you need help with an emerging issue.  You will receive a written summary with an assessment and recommendations.  You will also receive a copy of my book “Raising Troubled Kids,” a guidebook that has been reviewed by professional mental health providers.


If you want additional sessions: the price is reduced to $125.  Additional sessions are useful for addressing issues that come up once you start implementing changes.  You should expect new challenges when something’s starting to work!

What you can expect from me

  • Belief in you without judgement
  • Respect and compassion from someone who’s been there and understands;
  • Clear practical steps for reducing your child’s negative symptoms;
  • Techniques for creating a therapeutic home for the entire family (e.g. teamwork, values);
  • House rules that work, structure that works, and communication styles that work;
  • Support for all family members; self-care, ‘mental health’ breaks, ways to bring joy back into your lives
  • Answers for coping with: schools, health care providers, relationships, or challenges with your child’s friends or others in your community

Please read the Disclosure and Ethics document.

Payment via PayPal is required prior to a scheduled appointment.  General questions about my services are welcome anytime:

Your Story

Please cut and paste these into an email, and complete and send.  Absolutely everything is kept confidential per HIPPA regulations (Health Information Portability & Privacy Act).

1 – Briefly list or describe the most important things you need now, your main priorities, and please include things that you need and those of your other children if there are siblings.  This helps to identify priorities, and focuses our session on the most important things first.


2 – Tell me about your child, and age and diagnosis (if any).  What behaviors are most worrisome?  What are your child’s strengths?  In your own words, write out concerns that need to be addressed, and describe the child’s strengths.  We will look at your and your child’s innate strengths to address problems.


3 – Tell me about the important people in your child’s life who directly interact with your child.  Besides family members and friends, include others like teachers or professionals who are influential.  Include both positive and negative relationships.  We will discuss strengthening relationships with supportive people, and limiting those with people who are detrimental to you and your child’s wellbeing. 


4 – Has your child received any kind of mental health treatment?  What has helped, or had no effect, or worsened things for your child?  Please list any observations of sleep, seasonal mood changes, allergies, digestive problems or other medical problems.  It helps to know what you’ve already tried and how it’s working or not working.


5 – Is there anything in your child’s environment that is making things difficult but is currently unavoidable?  When we can clearly identify existing causes or triggers for your child’s distress, we can develop ways to avoid or reduce the impact.


6 – Is there anything else you’d like to add?  Are you struggling with a decision, or a disagreement, or concerns about your wellbeing?  Please add comments about other concerns you may have, especially those that affect you and your ability to parent.

Children with mental health problems get better.  This happens all the time.