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Outdoor Teen & Adolescent Bipolar Disorder Treatment Center

SUWS of the Carolinas, is a life-changing wilderness-based treatment center for children, adolescents, and teens struggling with bipolar disorder.

At our outdoor treatment center for troubled teens, we blend traditional clinical treatment modalities with wilderness therapy to empower adolescents and teens to overcome their mood disorders and find lasting recovery.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Learn More About Bipolar Disorder

SUWS of the Carolinas is a therapeutic wilderness treatment center that focuses on short-term, high impact clinical intervention and assessment for adolescents, ages 10 to 17, who are struggling with bipolar disorder.

Located in Western North Carolina, our treatment center uses the outdoors as an alternative to conventional treatment environments, while also engaging students with traditional therapeutic methods. This unique treatment environment removes modern distractions, simplifies choices, and teaches valuable lessons. As a result, our students begin to accept responsibility for personal decisions, address individual and family issues, and become invested in their own personal growth.

Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, is a lifelong condition that has the potential interfere with a young person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. This serious mental health disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels. Furthermore, a young person with bipolar disorder will usually rapidly cycle through episode of mania (high moods) and depression (low moods), or in some instances may experience both mood episodes at the same time.

At our leading wilderness treatment center, our structured therapy and unique approach to treatment have helped many teens and adolescents throughout the years who have been held back from reaching their full potential, as a result of bipolar disorder. We can help your child learn how to manage their disorder and will send them back home full of the knowledge they need to lead a wonderful future.

Helping a Loved One

Helping a Loved One or Family Member with the Treatment Process

Living with a child or adolescent who has bipolar disorder can be extremely challenging and trying to cope with the ups and downs associated with this disorder can be downright exhausting. The rapidly changing mood swings, as well as the angry and irritable behaviors a young person with bipolar disorder often displays, will come to affect the entire family.

As frustrated as you may be right now, the good news is that with proper medication and by receiving therapy at a bipolar disorder treatment center, your son or daughter’s symptoms can be stabilized. In addition to getting your child the treatment they need, you can be a significant help to your child by providing them with ongoing support. Some other ways in which you can be a big help to your child includes the following:

  • Learn all you possibly can about bipolar disorder including the symptoms and treatment options. The more knowledgeable you are about this disorder the better equipped you will be to help you child.
  • Talk to your child about the treatment program he or she will be attending and allow him or her to ask any questions.
  • Be an active participant in your child’s treatment process.
  • Be patient with your child and recognize that the treatment process takes time. It is unreasonable to expect an immediate recovery. Furthermore, do not get discouraged if some setbacks occur along the way toward recovery.

Why Choose SUWS

Why Consider Treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas

If you are asking yourself, “does my child have bipolar disorder?” it is imperative that you have them evaluated by a mental health professional. Early diagnosis and treatment will help ensure your son or daughter will be able to reach their full potential. However, if bipolar disorder is left untreated the outcomes can be detrimental.

As a result of the distressing symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, a young person can have a significant amount of difficulty with tasks of daily living. They may also begin to experience a number of physical, emotional, and social complications. For example, young people with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for the development of certain diseases and conditions such as obesity, migraines, hypothyroidism, and heart disease.

Furthermore, they may have difficulty performing at school, constantly get in trouble in the classroom, and as behavior problems escalate they may begin to have run-ins with the law. It is also common for a child or adolescent, with bipolar disorder, to have difficulties making and keeping friends, which can lead to social isolation and loneliness. The longer that bipolar disorder is left untreated, the more likely it is for the negative consequences listed above to get even worse.

Types of Treatment

Types of Treatment Offered at SUWS of the Carolinas

At our treatment center, we provide four different treatment tracks which are designed to meet the distinct needs of all of our students, including those with bipolar disorder. Each track varies according to age, maturity level, presenting challenges, as well as social and adaptive development of our students. These four distinct tracks include:

  • Approach: For adolescents, ages 14-17, who are struggling with autism spectrum disorders, social issues, social avoidance, technology addiction, and more.
  • Phoenix Outdoor: For adolescents, ages 14-17, with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.
  • Seasons: For pre-teens, ages 10-13, who are battling ADD/ADHD, defiance, entitlement, and poor social skills.
  • SUWS: For adolescents, ages 14-17, who are struggling with anxiety, depression, emotion regulation, learning differences, and trauma.

All four tracks have a strong therapeutic foundation of evidence-based treatment practices and a holistic approach to health and wellness. Additionally, the treatment curriculum offered at SUWS of the Carolinas is designed to support the growth of each student and is based on a level system. Each level carries a specific intention, measurable objectives, and can be individualized for each student’s needs. The admissions process will help you determine which program is the right fit for your child.

Throughout the duration of therapy all students will go on multi-day wilderness expeditions where they will participate in many challenging experiences and activities. After each wilderness expedition students will then spend a week at our base camp, which is used as an extension of the treatment process. Some of the therapeutic methods used in the treatment of bipolar disorder may include the following:

Medication management: Most children and adolescents with bipolar disorder will require medication in order to keep their symptoms under control. Long-term use of medication can help reduce the frequency and severity of mood episodes in your child and sometimes may be able to prevent them altogether. All medication needs are handled on an individual basis and all students in our program can meet with a psychiatrist on an as needed basis. However, our psychiatrist is available at base camp every other week in the fall, winter, and spring, as well as every week in the summer. In addition to our psychiatrist, SUWS has a registered nurse on staff and all of our field staff are trained in medication administration.

Individual therapy: Each student at SUWS of the Carolinas receives individual counseling sessions up to two times a week, where they will be able to meet one-on-one with a licensed mental health professional. Individual therapy at a treatment center can be extremely helpful for a young person with bipolar disorder as sessions can be used to work through any problems that bipolar disorder may have caused in their life and can also address the presence of additional concerns.

Group therapy: Process groups are held on a daily basis, while therapy groups, which are also led by licensed mental health professionals, are held one to two times per week. Some of the topics covered in group include, but are not limited to: communication skills, bullying, mindfulness, social skills, anxiety, and emotion regulation.

Family therapy: Throughout the duration of therapy, parents will have weekly update calls with a SUWS therapist where they will be updated on their child’s progress, will be involved in treatment planning, and will be able to discuss any specific concerns they may have surrounding their child’s bipolar disorder. As part of our treatment process, SUWS of the Carolinas provides family members with a two day workshop, which is built on the “Love and Logic” model and is rooted in psychoeducation. Finally, there are a number of family webinars available online, which are provided to further support and involve parents in the therapeutic process.

Experiential therapy: In addition to traditional therapeutic methods SUWS of the Carolinas offers a wide range of experiential therapies, both at base camp and in the wilderness. Some of the activities our students can participate in include:

  • Yoga
  • Expressive arts
  • Ropes course
  • Backpacking
  • Trap building
  • Trail navigation
  • Tree identifying
  • Fire starting
  • Therapy certified dogs

Continuing Care

Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment

Once a student has completed their treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas they will participate in a three day graduation process, where students and their families will come together in an emotional reunion as they prepare to embark on the next stage of their journey.

During the graduation process parents will be reunited with their children and will spend a night in the wilderness, where they will practice establishing new behavior patterns while still in the safety of the SUWS of the Carolinas program. On the last day of graduation, a ceremony honoring the accomplishments of each graduate, will be held prior to their departure.

As part of the treatment process here at SUWS of the Carolinas, we also provide each student and their family with transitional planning to help determine the most appropriate placement for your child, upon completion of our program. SUWS therapists will coordinate aftercare planning and discharge with parents, referring professionals, and the family transition specialist, as needed.

Many of our students will go on to attend a longer-term residential center or will return home upon graduation. Our therapists and other mental health professionals will work diligently to make the transition to the next phase of treatment is as smooth as possible, while also maintaining skills the student learned at our treatment center.

At our leading wilderness treatment center, we are devoted to providing the highest level of care possible for children and adolescents who are struggling with bipolar disorder. Our highly recommended wilderness therapy for bipolar disorder will provide your child with life-changing treatment, opening up the possibility for a brighter future.

At every step of the way in the journey of our son, the SUWS staff was wonderful. All of our questions and concerns were answered in a clear and thoughtful manner. Bottom line…SUWS is absolutely amazing! To be honest, I was skeptical that my son could be influenced in such a positive way. While my son has gone off to boarding school, he was an absolute pleasure during Trails end & the transition to his new school. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

– Anonymous Parent