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.

Taking a Break from Tech

Monday, March 6, was the National Day of Unplugging, a project that sprung from an organization called the Sabbath Manifesto. They encourage a 24-hour digital detox as a way to slow down and connect with ourselves and the world around us. SUWS of the Carolinas students took part, as they do every day in the woods while participating in our programming. Over the years, we have noticed the benefits of spending weeks without smartphones and computer screens, and research is supporting what we see.

I am not one to sound the alarm that the younger generations are doomed by their apparent dependence on internet technology. Much of our fear is based on conjecture, and it will take at least another generation for us to have confidence in the research. But it is clear that there have been negative consequences, from minor overstimulation to the serious repercussions that we see with drug addiction, cyberbullying, and exploitation. In the absence of longitudinal studies spanning decades, we can see the impact of technology when we observe what happens in its absence. UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain notes that taking a technology break offers benefits such as:

  • Better relationships with loved ones
  • Fewer distractions from daily tasks
  • Better self-esteem
  • Increased mindfulness
  • Lowered stress
  • Improved physical health

The idea of taking regular breaks from technology — whether for a few hours or a few weeks — is becoming increasingly well-known and popular. Driven by a desire for a better night’s sleep, more face-to-face interaction, or simply a reset to reduce mindless browsing, a tech fast allows us to examine our relationship with screens. It can be challenging to realize how much our behaviors have become habit. Simply removing social media apps from our smartphones can result in anxiety at first. Given enough time, that anxiety can transform into a sense of liberation.

My initial deep concern about teens and their “screen addiction” has softened significantly over the years. Or, rather, I have found hope in witnessing young people who, not long after arriving in a wilderness therapy setting without their devices, appear to forget about them within hours or days. When we do great work, we help them become aware of the benefits Mirgain describes. Of course, nearly all students return quickly to their old habits when they leave the field and are once again immersed in a world where screens are ubiquitous.

Only a few years ago, it was difficult to find specific guidance on what constitutes a healthy relationship with technology. Some experts provided guidelines, but it was mostly guesswork. And much of what they had to say focused on the negative rather than the benefits of setting limits on tech use. (I have included some resources below that parents and clinicians may find helpful.)

Perhaps one of the greatest tools in shaping a new perspective and experience of screen use is in the wilderness. It provides a weekslong experience without screens, helping reset the nervous system and demonstrating that we can feel, think, and function at least OK without them, if not far better.

With all of this in mind, SUWS will offer a “Tech Break” group in the summer of 2020 for teen boys. Spanning three weeks, from June 28-July 19, these students will engage in primitive hiking and camping. With opportunities for play, adventure, and creativity, they will have the chance to enjoy 21 days without a screen. While there will be some education on the negative consequences of tech-overuse, the focus will be on the positives of a healthy balance.

Meanwhile, their parents will be doing their own exploration, and some will take their own tech breaks. We will present learning tools to help them stay aware of, and set boundaries for, their children’s relationship with technology. Our goal is to ensure that when students return home, they are in a better place to engage in this new perspective on technology.

Meanwhile, we are doing our own work in noticing the benefits of unplugging. We are asking ourselves the same questions we ask our students. When you unplug, do you notice:

  • A difference in the way you regulate emotions and self-soothe?
  • A difference in the way you communicate and connect?
  • A difference in your creativity when it comes to play?
  • A difference in your energy when you are not engaged in the comparing that social media encourages?


I invite you to find some time for yourself to unplug and to notice as well.




SCREENAGERS – This began as a webpage promoting the 2016 film and has become an ever-evolving resource that includes pro-social video games, models for school cellphone policies, and other resources.

Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids – and How to Break the Trance, by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. This 2016 book lays some very useful groundwork on the topic of screen addiction in children.

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps to Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, by Andy Crouch (2017)

The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life, by Anya Kamenetz (2018)

Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology, by Diana Graber (2019)

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. 

About Daniel Fishburn, LCSW, LCAS, MAC, CCS, Executive Director/CEO

Daniel Fishburn has been helping young people “find their way” in a variety of settings for 30 years, including close to 20 years as a licensed clinician.  He received his BA in Psychology at The Catholic University of American in Washington DC., and his MSW from the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work.  From the war zones of El Salvador to the streets of Dallas and Houston, Daniel has served families through numerous organizations such as Child Protective Services, public health agencies, community mental health, adolescent and adult substance abuse treatment, young adult transitional programs, and most recently at a therapeutic boarding school.  From the frontline staff to leadership, Daniel is highly experienced in working at the organizational level to create powerful, positive change.

In Daniel’s personal life, he is committed to mindfulness science and practice, nature adventure, and volunteer service in the Asheville community. He is involved nationally in the Recovery Dharma movement and engages in education/advocacy for LGBTIQ youth.

View all posts by Daniel Fishburn, LCSW, LCAS, MAC, CCS

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