Trails Carolina, an esteemed wilderness therapy program specifically for troubled teens, has recently come under scrutiny following allegations and investigations which call into question its integrity.
Horror stories from former participants and their families have raised serious concerns over mistreatment and abuse at Trails Carolina, such as claims of harsh disciplinary measures and emotional manipulation.
What is Wilderness Therapy?
Wilderness therapy is an alternative form of behavioral health treatment that utilizes outdoor activities as an aid to healing. This form of therapy combines individual and group sessions, education about mental illness and coping strategies, therapeutic wilderness experiences to assist struggling adolescents in finding relief.
Wilderness therapy goes beyond helping individuals, by also offering programs designed to benefit families. Most programs feature weekly calls with a family therapist to address communication problems and build healthier relationships; additionally they may offer journaling exercises or family workshops designed to promote thoughtful dialogue within homes.
Wilderness therapy seeks to immerse participants in a natural, distraction-free environment. Daily routines tend to be quite straightforward: rising early, cooking breakfast over a primitively built fire, hiking a few miles and setting up camp, eating lunch over said primitively built fire, engaging in activities which promote social awareness or build relationships, relaxing before going to bed, etc.
What are the Benefits of Wilderness Therapy?
Wilderness therapy provides an integrative solution for adolescents struggling with mental health, behavioral and academic challenges. By eliminating screens, peers and everyday distractions that interfere with personal insight and self esteem development, wilderness therapy allows students to gain personal knowledge that will enable them to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Students work together in gender and age-segmented peer groups to foster healthy relationships and enhance social interactions. Additionally, this program incorporates experiential activities like bow drilling to teach life-skills that they will keep with them throughout their lives.
Wilderness therapy’s natural setting can help lower stress levels by encouraging mindfulness and soothing anxiety-provoking racing thoughts, while spending time outdoors may promote better sleep quality and thus be an invaluable aid to reduce teen anxiety and improve mood disorders.
What is Trails Carolina?
Trails Carolina Horror Stories offers wilderness therapy and outdoor education services. Their program serves students aged ten through twenty five and is located in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina.
This program is highly regulated. Annual inspections by the Department of Health and Human Services ensure compliance with their strict guidelines.
Families are kept actively involved throughout the program by receiving weekly support calls from other families to discuss any challenges, as well as appointments with their Family Therapist to address underlying issues and receive updates on their child’s development.
Trails stands apart from other wilderness therapy programs by offering an engaging family immersion experience called Common Ground, designed to prepare students for returning home and strengthen family dynamics. Furthermore, Trails’ multisystem approach differentiates it further: it includes wilderness therapy alongside academic classes and equine therapy in its assessment process for an holistic assessment.
What are the Concerns About Trails Carolina?
Trails Carolina is accredited by various bodies, and parents should read reviews about the program prior to enrolling their child. Unfortunately, some reviews raise serious concerns regarding staff safety and treatment methods; other allegations pertain to mistreatment, isolation and manipulation – issues which could potentially have serious repercussions for adolescents’ mental wellbeing.
Former participants and their families have reported suffering physical abuse and emotional distress during their time in a wilderness therapy program, which may have lasting negative repercussions for mental health and may lead to addiction, self-harm and depression.
Some mental health professionals have raised concerns that Trails Carolina’s emphasis on tough love may be harmful to vulnerable adolescents, and question the lack of regulation within the wilderness therapy industry which allows programs like Trails Carolina to operate without adequate oversight by state regulators – often more than one year between inspections of Trails Carolina by these bodies. WBTV investigated these matters further and has discovered this to be true in most states regulated by them.