Blue Ridge Adolescents

The outdoor treatment model at Blue Ridge is highly effective with therapeutically resistant teens as well as individuals who come to the program as a first intervention. The 24/7 supervision, overarching clinical support, and therapeutic application of skills and tools within the backdrop of a safe, but challenging environment affects change in a way that cannot be duplicated in other therapeutic settings.

Ultimately, we seek to help your child learn how to make decisions based on their own values and beliefs. We strive to enable your teen to live purposefully and intentionally in recognition of the challenges they have faced without shame or guilt.

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Student Profile

Our team of licensed, experienced therapists use the most current, evidence-based therapeutic modalities to provide clinically sophisticated and comprehensive treatment to address a wide range of issues, including but not limited to, the following mental health profiles, diagnoses, and struggles:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autism and Neurodevelopmental Differences
  • Low Self Esteem and Poor Self Concept
  • Body Image Issues
  • Computer and Internet/Screen Addictions
  • Academic Frustration, Avoidance and Failure
  • Low Frustration Tolerance
  • Emotional Regulation Issues
  • ADD & ADHD
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Identity Development
  • Attachment Issues
  • Social Challenges
  • Family Conflict
  • Divorce Conflict
  • Grief and Loss
  • Adoption Issues
  • Substance Abuse
  • Promiscuity and Risky Sexual Behaviors
  • Self Harm
  • Emerging Personality Disorders
  • Trauma
  • Entitlement
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Executive Functioning Difficulties


Student Mentor Application

Adolescent Program Elements


Individualized Care

Teens at Blue Ridge are matched with the therapist and group which best fits their unique psychological or emotional challenges. As the treatment team leader, the Primary Therapist develops an individualized treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of each student. Each week, the Primary Therapist facilitates individual and group therapy sessions, coordinates with field instructors to select the ideal interventions for each day, and communicates with families and referring professionals.

Admissions Process


Developing an emotional toolkit

Adolescents receive treatment that is customized to their own unique experiences and mental health or therapeutic challenges. Each teen works with a licensed Primary Therapist who creates their individualized clinical assessment and treatment plan.

The wide range of both therapeutic and wilderness-related skills that adolescents learn at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness encourage them to practice self-reliance, self-efficacy, resilience, trust and confidence. Ultimately, these skills create an unforgettable experience that stays with our alumni for life.



Learning to collaborate with others

The milieu cultivates a strong focus on assertive communication skills. Together, students develop expectations and norms that best work for the entire group. This emphasis on team building, communication, and consideration for others helps adolescents learn to pay attention to their surroundings, practice emotional immediacy, and more effectively communicate frustrations, requests and ideas.

Students utilize these skills throughout the day, whether they are hiking, cooking, bow-drilling or even playing games. This group experience, combined with individualized therapy from a licensed therapist, leads to opportunities for mental health support and growth every day of their stay.

Our Model➔


Self-directed and strengths-based healing and growing

We understand that long-term empowerment, motivation and growth occur from within each individual. Our highly professional treatment teams encourage students to discover what works for them in their lives through emotional support, motivational interviewing and supervised trial and error. With guidance from their Primary Therapist and field instructors, teens at Blue Ridge have the unique opportunity to make (and learn from) their own choices in a safe, therapeutic environment that is accredited, licensed and supported by research.



Exploring personal values and family dynamics in the milieu

Adolescents in our program are provided a distraction free environment and immersed in a milieu where therapists and field staff provide a small universe of lessons mirroring the larger universe in which they live.

Shelter building, backpacking, simple daily chores, group cooperation, relationship skills, and problem-solving are taught “in the moment.” Our staff and therapists move between traditional models of therapy and assessment to symbolic lessons, bypassing defensiveness.

Daily Life

blue ridge therapeutic wilderness diet

Decreasing anxiety & depression with structure & healthy living

We believe that eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, practicing daily mindfulness, and engaging in physical activity are all an integral part of the healing journey. Our health and wellness program is customized to meet each student’s dietary and physical needs. Students are provided with new skills and communication tools, such as the “I feel” statement, conflict resolution strategies, and mindfulness practices, which will guide them in regulating their emotions from a place of empowerment and accountability.

Health and Wellness

teen girl therapy programs

Growing in a parallel process

We believe that an adolescent’s healing is deeply connected to the maintenance of a healthy family system. While your child's therapeutic journey takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains, your family will impart on a therapeutic journey of their own at home. In addition to their Primary Therapist, each family will work with a family therapist throughout the duration of their child’s stay. Our family programs team works closely with parents (and sometimes other family members) to help them understand their child’s therapeutic process as well as support them in their personal process as a parent.

Family Involvement


Preparing for what comes next

During their entire stay, your teen will be provided with skills and tools to help them cope with change, discomfort, and whatever mysteries the future may hold. As each student’s time with us nears its end, we offer clinically appropriate support to the adolescent and their family.

In addition to individualized transition support, families and their students may be invited (with a referral from their Primary Therapist) to participate in our Transition programs. These programs are cultivated for you and your child to thoughtfully reunite in the wilderness setting, practice the tools you’ve learned, and spend uninterrupted, quality time together before you move forward as a family.

Family programming