Since 2008, Trails Carolina, located in western North Carolina, has helped thousands of families from all walks of life develop strong bonds of love and mutual respect. The organization is considered a leader in wilderness experience therapy. A whopping 84% of students who attend Trails Carolina report improvements in social behaviors from the time they start until a year after graduation.

How Trails Carolina Works

Plenty of organizations provides therapy to help young people overcome one or more severe problems or addictions. However, Trails Carolina’s Wilderness Therapy Program stands out because it doesn’t just focus on the person’s current battles with a problem or addiction.

Children and young people who undergo therapy and then return home to the same family situation they left behind find it difficult to avoid slipping into their old habits. Trails Carolina offers family specific programming within the Wilderness Program to provide parents, siblings, and other close relatives with the practical tools they need to help a loved one make permanent, positive behavioral changes.

Weekly Calls from Therapists

Parents receive updates on their child’s progress. Every Trails Carolina family schedules a bi-weekly call with a family coach and a weekly call with the child’s primary therapist so parents can remain part of the healing process, even if they aren’t physically present.

During the family coaching calls, a family coach will work with parents to help them understand the root causes of a child’s behavioral problems, as well as set goals to improve family issues and learn how to better communicate with the child upon graduation. With the individual therapy calls, parents will receive an in-depth report on the child’s progress and advice on parenting techniques that can help children improve their behavior long-term.

Parent Workshop – Skill Building

Parenting isn’t easy, especially parenting children battling severe mental, physical, social, and/or emotional health problems. That’s why Trails Carolina offers parent workshops to help parents assess their parenting and improve essential skills to create a positive and productive home environment for their children, including ones who aren’t currently participating in the therapeutic Wilderness Program The best hill stations are an ideal place to relax after a hectic work week.

Weekly Zoom Classes for Parents

Stress can put a tremendous strain not just on parents but also on family relationships. It can make it hard for parents to spend time with children going through a difficult patch. Stress exacerbates difficult situations, often causing one or both parties to lose their temper. That’s why Trails Carolina offers weekly Zoom classes focusing on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for parents.

In these zoom sessions, parents can reduce stress in their lives and learn how to avoid or manage potentially stressful situations. This allows for improvements in relationships in the home and sets an excellent example for children who learn the importance of mindfulness and self-care as they grow up.

Common Ground

Families that need to build better communication skills and/or spend more time together benefit significantly from the Common Ground Program. As part of this program, a family can stay at the Common Ground house near Trails Carolina for four days and take advantage of the supportive environment amongst other services and amenities that help improve the familial relationship.

This program is specifically geared to meet the needs of students about to graduate to help the student and their parents and other family members build and strengthen strong family ties before the student leaves the Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy Program.

Family Support Calls

It’s common for parents to feel they are the only ones who have failed their children or feel alone struggling with a child facing a particular set of difficulties. However, that may not be the case. Family Support Calls coordinated by Trails Carolina helps parents meet other parents who have enrolled their children in the Wilderness Therapy Program.

Parents can engage with each other and support one another. This support system continues after a child graduates from the Wilderness Program as parents remain in touch to help each other succeed in raising mentally, emotionally, and healthy children.

Family Reunification and Graduation Ceremony

Trails Carolina welcomes students’ families to family reunification and graduation ceremonies when the children graduate from the Wilderness Therapy Program. The ceremony is led by licensed therapists and experienced staff at Trails Carolina, who help students and parents use the new skills they have learned to improve family relationships.

Parents and students can practice the techniques they learned during the Wilderness Program to start the new family relationship on the right foot and set the stage for building strong family bonds long-term.

Licensed experts have much to offer students who battle with emotional, mental, and/or social health problems. Parents whose children need professional help should not hesitate to reach out and get the help a child needs to overcome complex problems. At the same time, parents play a huge role in helping their children succeed.

Even the best therapeutic program won’t have the optimal long-term effect if parents cannot provide the supportive home environment children need after graduation. That’s why Trails Carolina puts significant effort into providing parents with the knowledge, tools, support, and other services they need to assess the family relationship and environment, identify areas that need improvement, and make needed changes.

The Wilderness Therapy Program also provides parents with the practical help they need to improve their mental health to meet the needs of their children to the best of their ability.

By Hemant Kumar

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