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

The Family Piece

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.

Three large, flat stones are placed in a triangle formation. One stone represents a teenager, the second and third represent her mother and father. The teenager is asked to think of a specific time when she was fighting or in conflict with her parents. “Stand on your stone and feel what it was like to be you in this situation” she is instructed. She does so and describes, without much effort, her anger at her parents. “Now, move and stand on the stone that represents your mother. Become her in this situation. What is she feeling?” Tears form in the teenager’s eyes as she describes, slowly and thoughtfully, feeling hurt and betrayed by her daughter for violating her trust, again. Next, she stands on her father’s stone. She sobs and says nothing for awhile.

Eventually, the teenager speaks and says, “I feel sad, very sad, and confused. I feel like I have lost my daughter, and I don’t know how to get her back. I miss her so much, but I don’t know how to help her. “Two parents are on the phone with their son’s field supervisor for their weekly session. Mom is distressed: “I’m REALLY frustrated because I have always tried to help my son—I’ve even stayed up at night writing papers for him so that he could get a good night’s sleep before his games—and this is how he shows me his appreciation! I do everything for him and I’m tired.” The field supervisor acknowledges her frustration and feeling burned out, then asks “What would happen if you didn’t write his papers for him?”

Dad jumps in, “His wouldn’t do them and his grades would drop, then he couldn’t play baseball.” “Does your son like baseball?” the field supervisor asks. “Yeah, it’s his life. He’s planning on getting a scholarship, too” answers Dad. The field supervisor asks how many times their son would choose to not do his homework if it meant that he couldn’t play baseball. “I don’t know,” reflects Mom, “we’ve never let him do that.” Silence. “I’m going to let you in on something,” says the field supervisor. “We need to let our children fail.” Three parents are sitting around a table. “Who wants to go first?” Karen asks. “I already know what my son is going to ask for, so I’ll go!” says Susan. Ron agrees to be her son and Karen says she’ll be the observer who will offer Susan feedback. Ron starts: “Mom, I want to go visit my friends in Orlando before school starts. Can I?” Susan states that she doesn’t think it’s safe for him to go on a trip to visit friends who he used to do drugs with so soon after graduating from SUWS, and therefore her answer is “No”.

“But Mom, I haven’t even had a summer since you and dad sent me HERE and this is the only time I’ll be able to go to Orlando—you know that Chris is moving and I won’t get to see him if I don’t go when I get back!” whines Ron loudly. “Well, I know you haven’t had a summer break and I know you want to go to Orlando, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea right now. How about if we talk about going as a family at the end of the month?” Susan pleas, then looks at Karen to see how she’s doing. “You did a wonderful job initially stating ‘no’ and giving your reasons why,” Karen offers, “then you started bargaining with him, which we learned never works.” “Yes, you’re right” exclaimed Susan. “I felt like I needed to offer him something, like I owed him something since he’s been at SUWS! Okay, let me try it again and this time I’ll come back to ‘nevertheless, the answer is no.…

What do these three situations have in common? They are all family systems interventions and they are regular occurrences at SUWS of the Carolinas, a wilderness therapy program for struggling pre-teens and adolescents in western North Carolina. The program combines clinical expertise with a wilderness setting to target and change unhealthy, ineffective, and problematic behaviors of youth. Though youth are the residential clients in the program, parents participate in weekly phone sessions with their child’s field supervisor, write weekly letters to their child, receive weekly letters from—and photos of—their child, and attend a two-day Trail’s End program at graduation that combines a parent seminar with an overnight stay in the woods with their child. Parents are an integral part of the treatment program since SUWS of the Carolinas recognizes the vital role that they, and the entire family system, play in effective treatment for struggling pre-teens and adolescents.

Too often, when families are dealing with children or teens that are out of control, typical treatments that are sought focus almost solely on the youth themselves with peripheral—if any—treatment involving parents and siblings. However, when a teen is struggling, the entire family is struggling. Family systems theory acknowledges that the behavior of one family member or subsystem directly impacts other members or subsystems. For example, when children “parent shop” and use the less strict parent to get what they want, the parental subsystem is damaged and the stricter parent becomes resentful of his or her spouse (or ex-spouse). Involving the family in treatment is more effective in decreasing problematic adolescent behaviors than working with the adolescent only, and the changes are longer lasting, too.

SUWS of the Carolinas is committed to creating the best possible outcomes for struggling youth and their families. This is demonstrated by their present programming, as well as their interest in increasing the family support services they offer. Plans are being made for additional services that focus on the family including greater web-based support, formal family assessment and report, and a 3-4 day family wilderness camp. These services will be offered to families who have a child currently placed at SUWS, families that are struggling with a teen and hope to prevent the need for residential treatment, as well as families that have previously had a child placed with SUWS (or another wilderness program) that would like some “refresher” support.

There is no need for families that are dealing with difficult youth to continue down a path that isn’t working. Early intervention is a crucial factor in successful treatment outcomes. SUWS of the Carolinas is here to help youth and their families.

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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