Neil Quatrano is owner and founder of Behavioral Management, LLC. He has 25 years of mental health experience working with adults, adolescents, and children. He is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and co-author of The Tool Box Approach ©.
- Neil, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
Actually no! I wanted to be an actor! Then one day I went to my cousin’s internship at Mansfield Training Center (I am dating myself!), she was working with people of all ages with severe and profound cognitive deficits who so appreciated any kind of human contact. My heart went out to them and instantly knew that I wanted to do this kind of work. I entered college at Southern CT. ST. University in the Special Education Dept. I received my undergraduate in Special Education and minored in art and psychology.
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
Before I finished my degree I was hired at a nonprofit agency working direct care. I did that for approximately two years and then became a manager at the same agency. I stayed there for a little while. I had married my wife right after college and we had our first baby within a year of being married. I was working far from home. I moved from there and went to work at Yale Psychiatric Institute now Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. It was my first introduction to the mental health field and working with adolescents. I loved it! I learned so much there. They provided excellent supervision and valued the feedback and observations of the staff.
From there I was recruited to be the Program Manager for a Supervised Apartment living and state licensed group home with the Parents’ Foundation for Transitional Living. I stayed there for several years and again had an incredible mentor, Gretchen Law, LSCW, M.Div.
During that , one of the psychiatrist who was working with the clients there approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking on a position at St. Raphael’s Hospital as a Program Coordinator for a Cognitive Behavior Therapy program that he wanted to start up. He provided the training and I implemented the program with the assistance of the clinical staff on the unit.
Shortly after that Yale called me back to work in the Utilization Review Department and the Yale Behavioral Health Insurance Company. I stayed there for a couple of years. I was so appreciative of the opportunities offered. I learned so much from each of those experiences. It really prepared me for what was to come.
I left Yale and took a position doing behavioral home care with adolescents. I loved this position because it provided me an opportunity to work with yet another population, Parents! I found that my previous experiences had been very relevant and helpful in assisting parents and their children with valuable tools. I did this for several years with a couple of different agencies. As I gained more experienced I was able to make more money! I then became a “behavioral consultant. I was supervising others in home behaviorist.
A colleague, fellow behaviorist and I started the agency Behavioral Management, LLC back in 2002. Based on the needs that we repeatedly heard at community meetings that we had been sent to where other mental health agencies and parents convened monthly; we heard that there was a need across Connecticut for more services for adolescents with behavioral and mental health issues. We began working with these Community Collaborators across Connecticut and then started a relationship with the Department of Children and Families. Our business took off from there! We ended up having to quit our full-time jobs with benefits and work full time for our own business. Within a few short years we then started to work with other state agencies. We began working with the Department of Developmental Services. Our creativity, strength-based approach really has lended itself to our success.
My wife and I started to do foster care with Boys and Girls Village about the same time we opened the business. This was so exciting. We were not only helping kids in our programs at work but then to be able to say to parents that I was working with that I was a foster parent that dealt with kids with emotional and mental health issues I think added credibility.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
Every business has bumps in the road but we have truly been blessed to have the support of the community. I have surrounded myself with incredibly talented creative and organized people. My wife, family and friends have been incredibly supportive.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
I have to really give credit where credit is due. My mentor and Executive Director Gretchen Law really provided for me an understanding that last with me today. Individuals with mental health issues and or intellectual disabilities all want to be treated like everyone else, with respect and dignity. Some of these folks I come in contact with do not have family or have family that is understanding. In the various environments I have worked in I have tried to replicate the same home-like environment instead of the institutional settings these individuals encounter on a regular basis.
Staying creative or “thinking outside the box” has been a tremendous help. Families truly appreciate the fact they we are flexible.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
This is a hard question to answer. Everyone is different. In general if we could get kids back to playing outside in organized or informal groups instead of sitting in front of the TV, games systems or cell phones, I think they would have better social and coping skills. Interacting with each other, or worse, strangers over the internet can be very dangerous and hazardous. Isolating is the worst thing for an adolescent especially with their hormones are in flux as they are! Caregivers would really be able to know how their loved ones are doing with more contact.
- What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
Find someone to talk to – at school, teacher, guidance counselor, school psychologist, counselor, the lunch lady! A staff person at the local community based center, helpline or friend….talk! There will eventually be someone that will “understand”.
- Neil, what else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I hope to expand the current base of services to include dramatic arts for kids. I think it would provide another nice outlet for kids to express themselves.
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
Please call me at the office at 203-785-9110 or email me at email@example.com.
Thanks for your time Neil, and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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