The Leading Wilderness Therapy Program
In 2008, Graham Shannonhouse established Trails to deliver upon the promise that our wilderness therapy program creates lasting change in the behaviors of teens. To reinforce this promise, our Trails team devised a modern transitional wilderness model focused on three beliefs that drive our programming decisions:
- A wilderness setting enhances the benefits of therapy.
- The wilderness can teach lessons applicable to everyday situations that create connections, promote lasting change, and teach adaptability and resilience.
- Families benefit from being involved in their child’s process.
Transitions Reinforce Skills
Guided by these beliefs, Trails has developed a multi-dimensional wilderness therapy program model. We capitalize upon the profound effects of a student’s wilderness experience, combine them with the utilization of strong clinical assessments and therapy, and integrate a family systems approach to the overall treatment.
Students are able to practice and apply these lessons through strategic shifts of interventions: wilderness expeditions, natural horsemanship curriculum, group work, and academics. We understand that transferring the wilderness experience takes practice.
By interspersing time from the wilderness to our base campus, students are able to practice their newly acquired coping and transition skills. As students face the challenges of the wilderness therapy program, their perspective begins to change and behaviors quickly follow.
Real-World Opportunities Create Better Outcomes
We help solidify changes by creating settings that mirror the ‘real world’ and relationships like academics and equine assisted therapy. In all these situations, our Therapeutic, Wilderness, Residential, and Academic Teams help the daily experiences become teachable moments. As a result, we have a unique opportunity to gain multiple professional perspectives of the same student resulting in a more comprehensive assessment.
Students and their parents leave Trails confident they will be able to transition their wilderness experience into skills for a bright future.
Trails involves the family every step of the way and makes the program an easy fit into parents’ busy schedules. The family program asks our students’ parents to commit to the process. We have a designated family therapist that provides a parallel process of what their child is doing and experiencing in our program. Together, we work to address the behaviors of the troubled teen and empower parents to make the best choices for their child through our wilderness therapy program.