Increased Precautions We're Taking in Response to COVID-19

LAST UPDATED ON 03/15/2021

As updates on the impact of the coronavirus continue to be released, we want to take a moment to inform you of the heightened preventative measures we have put in place at SUWS of the Carolinas to keep our patients, their families, and our employees safe. All efforts are guided by and in adherence to the recommendations distributed by the CDC.

Please note that for the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff, there are certain restrictions in place regarding on-site visitation at SUWS of the Carolinas.

  • These restrictions have been implemented in compliance with updated corporate and state regulations to further reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.
  • Options for telehealth visitation are continuously evaluated so that our patients can remain connected to their loved ones.
  • Alternate methods of communication for other services may be offered when deemed clinically appropriate.

For specific information regarding these changes and limitations, please contact us directly.

CDC updates are consistently monitored to ensure that all guidance followed is based on the latest information released.

  • All staff receives ongoing infection prevention and control training.
  • Thorough disinfection and hygiene guidance is provided.
  • Patient care supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer are monitored and utilized.
  • Temperature and symptom screening protocols are in place for all patients and staff.
  • Social distancing strategies have been implemented to ensure that patients and staff maintain proper distance from one another at all times.
  • Cleaning service contracts have been reviewed for additional support.
  • Personal protective equipment items are routinely checked to ensure proper and secure storage.
  • CDC informational posters are on display to provide important reminders on proper infection prevention procedures.

The safety of our patients, their families, and our employees is our top priority, and we will remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce any risk associated with COVID-19.

The CDC has provided a list of easy tips that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

For detailed information on COVID-19, please visit

Sibling Reaction to Placement

We remain open and are continuing to accept new admissions.

SUWS of the Carolinas remains committed to providing clinically superior services within a safe and supportive environment while taking all appropriate precautions to protect the well-being of our students and staff.

For admissions information, or to learn more about the heightened preventive measures we have put in place, please click the link at the top of this page or call us at (828) 489-3198.

Learn More About Sibling Reaction to Placement

By Brooke Judkins, Ph.D.

When children enter SUWS of the Carolinas, they have been receiving a lot of attention within their family system. The poor decision making and problematic behaviors that preempt pre-teens and teens coming to SUWS of the Carolinas can become a vortex into which the family gets consumed, and in this vortex the pre-teen or adolescent is the primary focus. During the SUWS program, the clinical focus is the attending child and the supports that are provided for parents. From a family system’s perspective, the members that are not given much clinical attention during this process—and who perhaps experience less familial attention leading up to SUWS of the Carolinas—are siblings of the pre-teen or adolescent in treatment.

Though siblings are not participating in weekly calls with therapists and often are not exchanging letters with their sibling in treatment, they are nonetheless impacted by the wilderness process and continuing care decisions regarding placement after wilderness. While siblings of any age can feel the effects of placement, the impact is likely greater for children young enough to still be living in the parental home. Siblings age 18 and younger, then, will be the focus of the information being presented.Siblings’ reaction to placement at SUWS of the Carolinas will vary based on numerous factors such as age, gender, birth order, temperament, family dynamics, quality of sibling relationship prior to placement, how parents respond to placement, etc.

Generally speaking, it is likely that siblings remaining in the home will experience a range of emotions, though they may not talk about them or even be aware themselves that they are experiencing the feelings in response to their sister or brother being sent away. Among the emotions they experience may be a sense of relief that there is less fighting and tension in the family, that parents in a better mood and are less stressed out, or that their sibling is getting help for their problems. Siblings might also feel grateful or happy that mom and dad can give them more attention now and perhaps spend more time with them.

If, as is often the case, there is some degree of marital duress when parents are dealing with a troubled pre-teen or adolescent, then siblings could also feel hopeful that their parents will get along better now that the struggling child is out of the home.Having a family member gone from the home, though, regardless of the circumstances, is perceived as a loss. Along with these more positive emotions, there are also likely to be some painful and uncomfortable emotions.

The closer the sibling bond or relationship, it is likely the more sadness siblings at home will experience. At holidays, birthdays, and other family events this sadness might be heightened, especially early into placement. There also may be some degree of guilt or blame that siblings feel (Is it my fault that my sibling had to leave?) no matter how irrational it seems. Siblings may also experience fear on some level that the same thing could happen to them (If they sent my sibling away then they could also send me away!) even though, again, it might be irrational (they are A students who obey their parents, never miss curfew, rarely talk back, and don’t drink or use drugs). Other emotions experienced by siblings may also resemble those associated with grief, like denial and anger, especially if the attending child goes on to an out-of-home placement after SUWS of the Carolinas.

The denial might be a sort of disbelief that their sibling is not coming home, and may never live at home again (at least not while they are there), and difficulty accepting this reality. Anger may be experienced in relation to such a significant change (loss of a member) with little forewarning or preparation for it.

There also may be anger toward their sibling for getting in so much trouble that leaving home was a necessity, and possibly towards one or both parents for deciding to send their sibling away (moreso towards one parent if that parent had a more conflicted relationship with their sibling).What can parents do to help siblings cope with this period of loss and transition, and the accompanying emotions?

Be aware that your children at home are experiencing some reaction to their sibling being gone. Let them know that you are interested in what they are feeling and that it’s okay if they are sad, angry, scared, or feel relieved. They will also learn a lot from seeing that you are experiencing lots of emotions and that you are using healthy techniques to cope with them. While you don’t want to have an emotional breakdown in the presence of your children, it’s also not advisable to always have on a “happy face” and act like everything is okay.

Children are intuitive and pick up on underlying feelings even if parents are trying to hide them, so it is best to acknowledge your feelings (positive and painful) in an age-appropriate way for children. Instead of something to feel bad about or to hide, having uncomfortable emotions—yours or your child’s—can be an opportunity to find and demonstrate healthier, more effective coping strategies for these emotions. You don’t want to “fix” the emotions as they are a necessary part of the grieving process, but you can help your child learn how to cope with these feelings when they arise (for example, going for a bike ride or journaling instead of sitting in front of a screen).

If you are feeling overwhelmed or burned out and are not able to be fully present for them then seek the help of therapist who works with children and families. Also seek help from a therapist if you see negative changes in demeanor and/or behavior in children at home that persist for more than a few weeks. Your children at home are unique individuals—their reactions and grieving process may look different from yours, and from each others. Last, remember that you are doing something positive for the family by getting help for your pre-teen or adolescent and that siblings fare better when there is less tension and fewer arguments in the home.

SUWS of the Carolinas offers wilderness programs for adolescents who are struggling with various challenges, including mental health concerns, substance use, behavioral issues, and autism spectrum disorder. Our expert staff provides developmentally appropriate care to young people in a safe, therapeutic environment. We accept private pay only, but our staff can help develop a detailed financial plan for your family to ensure your child gets the care they need so that they can successfully return to their school and community.

The wilderness therapy offered at SUWS was the dynamic solution needed to help my son with his behavioral issues. When my son left SUWS, he was completely changed for the better and also created new bonds and unforgettable memories! I can't recommend SUWS enough for anyone in a similar situation!

– Britney A.
Marks of Quality Care
Why does this matter?
  • Cognia
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • Forest Service Department of Agriculture
  • National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)
  • National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council
  • Safe Zone
  • Sky's The Limit Fund
  • The Jason Foundation

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