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


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.

Stages of Development and How it Applies at SUWS

At SUWS, we often talk about “the milieu” of the group. The milieu is referring to a person’s social environment. The milieu changes as the group has different students enter and graduate, also as the individual students themselves evolve and change. Part of the process while being a student in the milieu at SUWS is to experience the group dynamic, and naturally, the ebbs and flows of group formation and development.

A framework that is often referenced when describing group dynamics is from the 1965 article by psychologist, Dr. Bruce Tuckman, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” In Dr. Tuckman’s article, he identifies four stages of group development; Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

What is useful about this identification of phases is that it helps normalize the experience that many students (and staff) have while in the experience of the group process. The staff exchange that happens each week helps stimulate the cycle of group formation anew, and therefore opportunities arise for new challenges to be faced and new repairs to be made. This process allows for the internal growth of each student to expand their individual capabilities to adjust to change and develop leadership skills. In the milieu at SUWS, a student may experience this cycle of stages over again many times throughout the duration of their course of stay.

A simple overview of these phases goes as follows:


This is a time when a group is getting to know each other. There is often excitement, anxiety, sometimes individuals are overly polite, or superficial in this stage. Leaders will dominate often in this stage, be that the staff, or a more senior student. The newer students will often follow direction and try to assimilate. This is a time for the staff to use clear directives and teach skills.


As students learn the boundaries, they begin to push against them, testing where they are held in the framework of staff and peers. This is where process is established and social structures are formed. It is a time for building trust and relationships, also for exposing a lack of trust and breaking relationships. This is where conflicts emerge and the need for repair occurs. Staff and senior students find themselves being questioned, challenged and needing to stand firm with boundaries and clarity. This is also a good time to teach this model of change and development, teach assertive communication skills and conflict resolution. It is a time to ask questions and learn from one another. While this is an uncomfortable stage, it is also where the growth edge expands the most. Some groups will land in Storming for a while before finding ground to move into the Norming stage.


In going through the Storming stage, the patterns of each individual emerge and are be`er understood. Empathy and compassion are cultivated as the individuals witness each other in one another’s growth. In the Norming stage, the group knows each other more, and they become a cohesive unit. Roles are negotiated, leaders can emerge and pass the responsibilities. The group tends to have more fun in this stage than before, they enjoy one another by accepting one another. Goals can be tackled, conflicts are more easily resolved, feedback is given and received with openness. It is quite common that the Norming stage and Storming stage overlap as new issues arise, and students slip into old patterns.


This is where the group unifies and can achieve big goals together as a group. This is where hard work leads without friction, team goals are made, team building activities are fun and the group has their own identity. Leadership is supported and delegation is honored. When working with a group at this stage, some therapists will put the students to the test by throwing out a lofty goal for the week (For example: everyone busts a fire, makes check off every day and each student offers a teachable moment in order to earn a pizza at the end of the week). The success of achieving such a goal is often a sign that a group has arrived at Performing. Everything is dynamic, and as new students and experiences arise, the group dynamic shifts and changes.

How it can look in a group:

A few weeks ago, the two Seasons groups were brought together for a hike up Snooks, an eight mile loop overlooking some pretty stunning views. Before the groups were brought together, Seasons 1 kids (who only days before had been arguing with each other and said some mean things) stated, “I heard the kids in Seasons 2 are monsters!” The kids in Seasons 2 (who only days before had been defiant and uncooperative) were heard saying, “I heard the Seasons 1 kids are chaotic and mean!” This is common assumption making in the early stages of Forming.

When the groups came together for the hike, the staff exposed what was said about each group to the other, and the two groups looked at each other sheepishly and shrugged. The storming process rolled into the Norming process as they hiked up the first part of the mountain. Some kids struggled, some charged ahead, as they found their way in the new formation of the two groups together. At the top, they all enjoyed the view and the feeling of success from making it up there. The rest of the hike was long, and there were stream crossings and ups and downs. The group showed that they could keep pace with each other and be supportive. They had made their way to Performing.

The only constant is change, and so the cycle of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing continues throughout the life cycle of a group.

Being a part of any group, be it a pick-up softball league or a management team has stages of formation occurring as part of the process. As a group develops, they grow as a group and as individuals. It can be helpful to know the process and where you are in it, so as to know how to support, understand and evolve.

About Jenny Stulck, MS, LCMHC, Primary Therapist for Seasons (students ages 10-14)

When Jenny Stulck was 15, she wrote in her journal that she hoped to one day “work in the woods with at-risk teens.” Jenny grew up hiking the trails around New England with her parents. She found the wilderness to be a sanctuary where she and her parents could slow down, listen and learn from each other in ways that were easier than when they were in the “indoor world.”

In 2005, Jenny began working as a field guide for a wilderness therapy program. She spent many years working in the woods with teens and traveling the world in her time off. Since 2013, she holds a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Clinical Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Jenny has worked a variety of community and private mental health counseling positions over the years including working with an intensive in-home team, a sexual abuse crisis center, mobile crisis management, and in wilderness therapy. Jenny is thrilled to be a part of SUWS and the team of skilled therapists here. She has shared the pleasure of having worked in the woods for years with many of her co-workers over the past decade. When she is not running therapy groups in the woods with adolescents, Jenny enjoys spending time with friends and family.

View all posts by Jenny Stulck, MS, LCMHC

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