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Is Wilderness Right for My Teen?

When your daughter has fallen and scraped a knee, you’ve bandaged it. When your son has come home from a bad day in school, you’ve comforted him. From scrapes and bruises to tears and conflict, you have always been invested in your child’s success.

However, addressing behavioral and emotional issues can become increasingly difficult as your child has reached puberty, or has begun to close in on emerging adulthood. Sometimes, your teen’s behavior might feel overwhelming, even dangerous.

To watch your child struggle can be a terrifying and exhausting experience. The first aid required for a splinter or a scrape will remain the same as your teen grows up, but the ways to connect with them and keep them safe are ever-changing, and there really is no book for what you are going through.

Perhaps you’re experiencing the pain and fear of living in crisis. You still want to support and empower your teen, but their problems have become increasingly complex. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the issues your child is facing, and you know that something needs to change. It may feel intimidating to seek outside support, but you’d do anything to find your teen and your family the right help.


Seeking Help

When your child breaks a bone, you know exactly what to do: you take him to the Emergency Room. You trust the ER’s network of trained professionals, and you know that they can carefully and urgently treat your child.

When your teen is struggling in a behavioral or emotional way, however, the answer might not be as obvious. Maybe you feel as if you are in uncharted territory: you could feel lost, desperate, or alone. Perhaps you’ve decided to summon a trained professional, and while you want to find treatment quickly, you want to seek the right help.


Wilderness therapy could be the answer you are looking for if your teen is experiencing any of the following setbacks:

  • Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder
  • Substance Abuse/ Dependence
  • Computer and Internet Addictions
  • Academic Frustration, Avoidance and Failure
  • Low Self-Esteem and Poor Self-Concept
  • Low Frustration Tolerance and Difficulty Delaying Gratification
  • Life Adjustment Problems
  • ADHD, Developmental Delays and Learning Difficulties
  • Identity Issues
  • Attachment and Adoption Issues
  • Social Challenges
  • Family Conflict
  • Grief and Loss
  • Sexual Acting Out
  • NLD and High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Victim of Abuse

At Blue Ridge, the Emergency Room is the forest, and the network of trained professionals is comprised of field guides and licensed therapists. Blue Ridge takes an integrated approach to treatment. This looks like combining assessment and wilderness-based therapeutic interventions to teach students and their families the skills necessary to connect in meaningful ways. At Blue Ridge, we aim to empower the family as a unit while the student moves through the program.


Why Wilderness?

Wilderness therapy eradicates the clutter of life while providing space for your teen to experience authenticity, vulnerability, and joy within a close-knit group, in a distraction-free environment.

In wilderness, students are removed from what prevents their full presence in the world. They are backpacking through Appalachia, free from all societal and material distractions. There are no cell phones pinging, no social media notifications, no video games, and no substances. Wilderness is devoid of the racket that preoccupies so many teens and hinders their ability to enjoy living in the moment.

There are shelters for sleeping under and for providing refuge in a storm.

There is the freshest water your child can drink.

There are whole, nutrient-rich foods to eat as your teen prepares for the next big hike.

Most importantly, there are people here at Blue Ridge who can help your kid rediscover their power.

While in the program, you will experience respite from crisis with your teen, and your teen will receive the assessment, help and support he or she needs. This time will provide you and your child the freedom and space to explore your relationships with yourselves and each other.


However, it may not be the best option for your teen if they have:

  • Actively attempted suicide
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Acute/ chronic violence outside the home
  • Medical conditions that may require emergency services during routine wilderness living, including:
    • Diabetes (insulin-dependent)
    • Allergies that may lead to anaphylactic shock
    • Significant obesity
    • Cardiac conditions or other organ dysfunctions that may lead to emergency care

We understand the urgency and fear associated with finding treatment for a troubled teen. Our mental health professionals are here to support and assist you as you discover whether wilderness is the right option for your child.

If you are wondering if wilderness is right for your family, please call us today so that we can learn more about your child and their specific needs. We will offer guidance and direction from our first interaction to our last.