Children’s limiting emotional beliefs and destructive behavioral habits exist within the context of the family and often indicate a breakdown in cohesion and trust among members. In order for treatment to be most effective and sustained, we believe that healing and change within the entire family is crucial. Applying a systems perspective, we involve families in our program utilizing a variety of activities and approaches.
The Family Program Approach
At SUWS of the Carolinas, we firmly believe that our students are not the only ones who should be fostering positive changes in their lives, but also that their family members should be as well. As our students go through this transformative process, we encourage family members to do the same, especially since the majority of destructive behaviors are typically linked back to family and the home environment. Therefore, we work to provide families of students with a variety of different options that can help them grow along with the child. Some of these various activities and approaches include the following:
- Parent Workshop: Our unique two-day parent workshops, created by a doctoral level therapist, are offered mid-program and are designed to stimulate parental awareness towards making changes in how they understand and relate to their child. These engaging workshops provide a safe environment for parents to learn new communication and parenting skills, share their personal struggles and successes, and connect to their child’s experiences at SUWS of the Carolinas. Genograms, experiential activities, intentional communication techniques, and a parenting styles assessment are among the approaches used at the workshops.
- Phone Calls & Letters: Integral aspects of parental involvement at SUWS of the Carolinas are weekly phone calls with their child’s therapist and the exchange of letters with their child. In the weekly calls therapists provide updates on a child’s progress, direct treatment planning, address relevant family dynamics, and give recommendations and support for continuing care once a child completes the program. Weekly letters are also discussed on these calls and they are used to promote open and effective communication between parent and child.
- Parent Resources: Parents have 24/7 access to our Parent Check-In website to keep them informed about their child’s progress through weekly pictures and updates. Also offered on Parent Check-In is a message board that allows parents to discuss the program process, ask questions, post recommended books and resources, and learn about relevant topics guided by a therapist moderator. To further support and involve parents, an extensive Parent Handbook and Parenting CDs are also provided. The Handbook, available on Parent Check-In, guides parents through the process and gives them an in-depth look at our wilderness program: our philosophy and clinical approach, stages of the program, and a typical day for students, while the CDs offer practical lessons on a variety of parenting issues.
- Graduation: Trail’s End is the culminating experience for families at SUWS of the Carolinas. Upon graduation, parents attend a one-day seminar designed to prepare them for a successful reunion with their child and transition into their continuing care plan. Then families spend two days together in the field reconnecting, practicing new ways of interacting, and celebrating the child’s accomplishments during their journey at SUWS of the Carolinas.
At SUWS, we will be just as dedicated as you are to encouraging your child’s success, as well as help improve your overall relationship with him or her. Because we value family as an integral part of the SUWS journey, we are willing to work hands-on to incorporate you into every step of the way.