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Stephen Migden & Associates is now part of Vella Consulting.


I started an educational consulting and therapeutic practice because I am passionate about helping families heal.

Parenting a teen is rarely easy, but when your child is struggling, it can seem overwhelming.  Making the decision to send your child to a therapeutic program is one of the most difficult decisions you can make in your lifetime. Add to that the stress of looking for a safe and reputable alternative and not knowing which program is the best fit for your child and you may start to feel demoralized and even defeated.

I’m here to help.

The very core of my mission is to know the options and provide continuous and carefully individualized support as we work together to find the best placement for your child struggling with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorder
  • Mood Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Learning Disabilities
  • School Refusal
  • Failure to Launch
  • Substance or Alcohol Abuse
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Comorbidity
  • Self Harm
  • Trauma
  • Attachment and Adoption
  • Transgender Youth
  • Electronic / Gaming Addiction
  • and others

As a parent and educational consultant, I understand what it takes to make the right decision: trust, support, communication, and follow-up.


You are looking for lasting positive change. Trusting the process to achieve it takes time and experienced support. I am dedicated to finding the right solution and providing real hope when traditional or current alternative paths have been unsuccessful. As a parent of a teen who benefited from a therapeutic program, I understand your fears and how to alleviate them. I will also lend a hand for a peaceful transition.


Every family is unique. The support I provide is tailored to the specific needs of each family. I also provide advocacy and Committee on Special Education (CSE) assistance for parents seeking District support. 


I am in regular and frequent communication with my clients and with the therapists and programs I recommend. You can even call me right now.

Follow Up

Because I know that communication between you and the program throughout the treatment process is an essential component to continued success, I closely monitor progress after placement and provide continuous follow-up with parents and the treatment program or school.

Why Work with Me?

Trying to find the right placement for your child on your own can feel impossible. The urgency of the moment can get in the way of your doing thorough program research. There are so many programs with so many promises, it is difficult to know what to expect or believe. Even the most involved and caring parent can be easily overwhelmed.

I have done the work for you. I investigate schools and programs in-person to understand them beyond their reputation to their true strengths and weaknesses. I also attend conferences regularly to keep abreast of new approaches, laws, and resources that will benefit my families. I am constantly learning on behalf of my families.

The Programs I recommend

The therapeutic programs I recommend are unique. The placements I suggest are based entirely on the profile of the child, on family needs, and on my experience and knowledge of each specific program. I have thoroughly vetted each of the programs I recommend.

I regularly travel nationally and internationally getting to know the staff and therapists at various traditional and non-traditional programs including wilderness programs, residential treatment centers, transition programs, therapeutic boarding schools, hospital settings, and more.

If you are searching for a traditional boarding school, I can help you find the perfect environment that will provide the right balance of nurturing and academic rigor your child needs. I can also recommend traditional post-secondary programs for children who may benefit from an additional year prior to their journey through the college years. 

My Experience

I began working in the Educational Field more than 25 years ago. I worked in the NYC Public School System as a former Secondary School teacher and as a Middle School Dean of Students in Jackson Heights, Queens. I hold a District 75 NYC Regional Position as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Coach and have additional training in Life Space Crisis Intervention and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention.

I have worked with the NYC Committee on Special Education on observations, evaluations, and assessments to determine IEP eligibility and services, Behavior Intervention Plans, and Functional Behavior Assessments to meet the appropriate behavioral needs of students with challenges. I hold a Professional Degree in Administration and Supervision of Schools: Educational Leadership and Administration.

Contact me:

Call Or Text 917-578-2724


Dr Steve Migden, Ph D, CEP, is an educational consultant who has a background as a psychologist. He has over 35 years of experience serving children, adolescents and young adults with learning, behavioral and emotional problems.

After receiving his bachelor's degree, with honors, from Columbia University, Steve worked as an editor for a nationally known encyclopedia, and then went on to earn a doctoral degree in psychology from New York University. In practice since 1979, he has also held a number of other important professional positions, including

  • psychologist in the learning disabilities unit of a major teaching hospital
  • senior supervising psychologist in a day treatment center for children and adolescents
  • clinical coordinator and supervisor in a large residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed and behavior disordered adolescents
  • director of one of the largest psychology internship programs in the U.S.
  • professor and supervisor in the graduate programs of two nationally known universities
  • consultant in educational settings, including pre-school, tutoring/learning center, medical school, and law school

Steve is a Certified Educational Planner (CEP). This designation, obtained through the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP), recognizes those who have achieved the highest level of competence in the profession of educational consulting.

A full Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants’ Association (IECA), Steve has held a number of leadership roles in the organization. He has chaired the Subcommittee on Therapeutic Best Practices and the Subcommittee on Specialization, and he has served on the organization’s Board of Directors. Steve is also a member of the American and New York State Psychological Associations, and the International Dyslexia Association, where, in recognition of his longstanding contributions to students with learning disabilities, he has been officially recognized as one of the organization’s Orton Oaks.

Steve has published articles on learning disabilities, ADHD, and emotional-behavioral problems in prestigious professional journals, and he has lectured at local, national and international conferences. He is a licensed psychologist and a certified school psychologist. In addition, Steve has earned board certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) - less than 15% of all psychologists in the U.S. have achieved this distinction.

When advising families about school and program placement options, Steve does not function as a psychologist, therapist or psychological evaluator. Though he will naturally use the background of experience and knowledge he has gained over the years as a psychologist, he is very careful to separate the role of psychologist from that of educational consultant.

We maintain active membership in the following educational and consulting organizations:

Certified Educational Planner
National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs
National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs Annual Conference Planning Committee
Professional Member of The Independent Educational Consultants Association
Chair of The Independent Educational Consultants Association Therapeutic Committee
The Therapeutic Consulting Association
The Small Boarding School Association
The Association of Boarding Schools



Therapeutic and Education Alternatives which include:

  • Traditional Boarding Schools
  • Therapeutic Boarding Schools
  • Wilderness Programs for Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Residential Treatment Centers (all ages)
  • Traditional Post Graduate Programs
  • Therapeutic Transition Programs for Young Adults Post High School
  • Supportive Day Schools
  • Supportive Boarding Schools
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (all ages)
  • Advocacy
  • Traveling with Parents to Tour Programs
  • Career & College Counseling


Lisa is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated professionals in the educational consulting field. She accompanied us on school visits and assisted us with every step of the application process. Her style is equal parts compassionate coach, cheerleader, and organizational guru. We found a great placement for our son, where he is looking forward to continuing his education in September. Failure is not an option when you work with Lisa!

— Parent Lisa assisted with school placement

Lisa went above and beyond during a very stressful time in our lives. She guided us during every step of the process in finding a therapeutic boarding school for our daughter. Lisa not only provided us with information regarding schools and planning but was also very understanding of the situation and was so personable, making us feel confident in our decision to work with her. Top notch!!!

— B.C.

We cannot begin to thank Lisa Vella for helping us when all others did not know what to do and had failed us. We reached out to Lisa at a time when we had lost all hope. Lisa took the time to listen to our fears and concerns empathetically. Advocacy, would be an understatement as to Lisa's involvement.

She believed in our son when others stopped believing in him and never gave up believing in him. We thank Lisa from the bottom of our hearts. All we can say is Lisa Vella is an angel sent to help our son and us as parents at the most difficult time in our lives.

- J.B. and M.B.

As you get to know Lisa Vella, you will realize that she possesses all the qualities that a person helping you help your child should have. She is extremely knowledgeable, fiercely intelligent, and sincerely caring and kind. Lisa will listen to you. She will get to know who your child is so that she can figure out what your child needs. And Lisa will advocate for you in every way. I felt expertly guided through what can easily be an overwhelming process. Because Lisa is so competent and compassionate, I had total trust in my decisions. I am forever grateful for the help Lisa provided during a trying period for my family. We are thrilled by the progress my son has been making since he was placed in his new school.

Parent Lisa assisted with residential placement