Outdoor Teen & Adolescent PTSD Treatment Center

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

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 PTSD?

Learn More About Post-Traumatic Stress 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 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Located in Western North Carolina, our highly recommended 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.

PTSD is a mental health disorder that typically begins within the first three months following a traumatic event, though in some cases it can take years before the diagnostic criteria for this disorder is met. A young person with PTSD may struggle with a number of unpleasant symptoms, including re-experiencing (a type of flashback in which the young person relives the traumatic event), arousal, and avoidance symptoms, often making it hard for him or her to function properly on a daily basis. Furthermore, the presence of such debilitating symptoms can lead to many other complications in a teen or adolescent’s life

At our leading wilderness treatment center, we recognize how devastating the symptoms associated with PTSD can be. Our wonderful staff has had years of experience treating teens and adolescents who have been diagnosed with this disorder. Our unique approach to treatment, combined with our highly structured therapy, allows us to help students successfully overcome PTSD and live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Helping a Loved One

Helping a Loved One or Family Member with the Treatment Process

When your child or adolescent is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder it can be heart-wrenching. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to take away the pain and suffering your child is feeling, but you may not know exactly how to accomplish this. Though you may feel overwhelmed, there are some things you can do to help your child get back on his or her feet:

  • Educate yourself about posttraumatic stress disorder. The more that you know about this disorder the better prepared you will be to take care of your child.
  • Explain to your child what PTSD is and take the time to answer any questions that your child may have.
  • Be an active participant in your child’s treatment process. Ensure your child that you will always be there to support him or her.
  • Provide your child with a consistent, loving atmosphere.
  • Be patient. Remember that getting better is going to take some time.

Why Choose SUWS

Why Consider Treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas

The debilitating symptoms associated with PTSD can cause a significant amount of distress or impairment in numerous areas of a teenor adolescent’s life, especially when not properly treated. A young person with PTSD may struggle at school, often failing to keep up with academic demands and at times skipping school altogether. Additionally, a young person with this disorder may display emotional outbursts without a clear trigger, may decline to participate in certain activities, and may engage in reckless behavior, which can lead to accidental injury to self or others. The presence of irritable or aggressive behaviors, often associated with PTSD in children or adolescents, can make it hard for a young person to establish peer relationships. Furthermore, a young person with PTSD may begin to develop other mental health concerns or physical ailments. For example, a young person with PTSD may turn to drugs and/or alcohol in an attempt to alleviate some of the distressing symptoms he or she is experiencing. This often leads to the development of additional problems in that young person’s life. You may be asking yourself, “how can I help my child who is suffereing with PTSD?” The caring admissions staff at our treatment center can answer all your questions and concerns and give you information on the benefits of our life-changing outdoor therapy.

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 PTSD. 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 disorder, 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 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 our outdoor therapy center 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 track is the right fit for your child.

Throughout the duration of therapy at our treatment center, all students will go on multi-day wilderness expeditions where they will participate in challenging experiences and activities on a daily basis. 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 evidence-based therapeutic methods used in the treatment of PTSD may include the following:

Medication management: Antidepressants are often prescribed to those who are struggling with PTSD in order to relive symptoms of depression or anxiety, however medication will not treat the causes of PTSD. Any medication in your child’s treatment plan will be a mutual decision between you and your child’s psychiatrist, whom they will meet with on an as needed basis. Additionally, our psychiatrist is available at base camp every other week in the fall, winter, and spring, and every week in the summer. We also have a registered nurse on staff and all of our field staff are trained in medication administration.

Individual therapy: Each student at our treatment center 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 can help children and adolescents, with PTSD, identify upsetting thoughts about the traumatic event and begin to replace them with more rational beliefs.

Group therapy: Throughout therapy, process groups are held on a daily basis, while therapy groups are held one to two times each 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 a student’s stay at our treatment center, parents will engage in weekly calls with a SUWS therapist where they will be updated on their child’s progress and will be able to learn how to effective support their child’s recovery process. As part of our programming, SUWS of the Carolinas provides family members with a two day workshop, which is designed to help parents develop more positive communication skills, parenting skills, and help them connect to their child’s experience in our program. Finally, there are a number of family webinars available, which are provided to further support and involve parents in the therapeutic process.

Experiential therapy: In addition to traditional therapeutic methods, our wilderness treatment center offers a number of experiential therapies to provide our students with well-rounded recovery. Some of the therapies offered to our students include:

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

Continuing Care

Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment

Once a student has completed treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas, he or she will participate in a three day graduation process, during which he or she will be reunited with family members for final closing sessions before returning home. During the graduation process parents will spend a night in the wilderness with their child, where they will begin to establish new behavior patterns. On the final day, a ceremony honoring the accomplishments of each graduate will be held prior to their departure.

As part of the treatment process at SUWS of the Carolinas, we provide each student and his or her family with transitional planning to help determine the most appropriate placement upon graduation from our program. SUWS therapists will coordinate aftercare planning with parents, referring professionals, and the family transition specialist as needed. Our therapists and other mental health professionals work diligently to make the transition to the next phase of treatment is as smooth as possible.

At SUWS of the Carolinas, we are devoted to providing the highest level of care possible for children and adolescents who are struggling with PTSD. Our highly recommended wilderness treatment center will provide your child with life-changing treatment, allowing for a happier and healthier future.

I could not have have asked for a more outstanding therapist. She immediately understood my daughters needs, and was always forthright about what needed to be done. She was fabulous!

– Anonymous Parent