Family Programming Specialist Discusses Sibling Support During The Holidays

How does Trails support siblings during the holidays?

For families with children in treatment, the holidays can be a tough time of year. I’ve already written previously blogs on how we provide parent support during the holidays, as well as how we celebrate the holidays at Trails with students. For siblings of Trails students, this time of year can be just as isolating as it is for parents.

Support Through Individualized Sibling Calls

At Trails, one of the things we feel really strongly about when working with families is including the entire family throughout the process. Because of that, in addition to our parent support calls we also offer individualized sibling calls. These sibling calls allow for family therapists to better understand how siblings are processing, handling, and making meaning of the idea that their brother or sister is away at treatment.
Siblings of Trails students are often the family members asked by individuals in the community where their brother or sister is. These sibling calls help provide support for answering questions like these.

Sibling Calls During the Holidays

During the holidays, sibling calls are usually centered around spending time with their family at home without the presence of their sibling in treatment. Whether siblings are coming home from college, or have a break from school, they are going to be spending a lot of time together as a family during the holiday season. We help siblings process emotions revolving around celebrating the holidays without their sibling.
Many siblings tend to feel torn between celebrating the holiday as usual and the guilt that comes with their brother or sister not being around for the holidays. During the sibling calls, we help siblings work through these torn feelings in a healthy way. We offer advice for coming up with a middle ground of celebrating the holiday in a way that is helpful for them but also honoring their brother or sister that’s away.

Honoring siblings during the holidays

For siblings of Trails students, honoring their brother or sister away receiving treatment can take the form of a variety of things. Some siblings are really intentional about a gift or letter. Others modify a holiday tradition in a way that feels supportive to them. For example, a couple of years ago there was a sibling who pulled up an extra chair to the dinner table during a holiday dinner gathering.  It was really important for that sibling to make a place for her sister at the family table to signify that her sister was there in spirit.

Sibling Calls Create A Safe Space

Sometimes siblings don’t share their emotional turmoil with their parents because they think their parents are under enough stress and they don’t want to add to their stress.  Often, siblings may stay very stoic and reserved through family calls because of that. Individualized sibling calls allow for a safe place for siblings to open up about their feelings without worrying that they are burdening their parents with that information.

Trails Carolina Helps The Entire Family

Trails Carolina provides family support for the entire family. During the holidays, this family support can be especially helpful for working through all of the emotions that come with the holiday season.
Trails Carolina has helped hundreds of families achieve successful outcomes. For more information about our family programming, click here.
For more information about how Trails student spend the holiday season, click here.
For more information about how Trails supports families during the holidays, click here.

Posted in
Avatar of Jeremy Whitworth

Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


Discover If Trails Is The Right Program For Your Child

Take our short online assessment and help us better understand how we can help your family.

A teen stands at the meeting point of two trails in the forest, one leading higher towards the light and one leading down into darkness

Top 5 Common Myths About Wilderness Therapy For Youth: Understanding The History and Today’s Reality

Today, families have access to supportive, safe, and nurturing therapeutic treatment programs. Modern wilderness therapy programs, like Trails Carolina, are far from the punitive boot camps they are often portrayed as. 
A red-headed young woman sits on a hilltop overlooking forested mountains in front of her.

Treatment For Anxiety In Teens: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

At Trails Carolina, we will give your child the skills to manage anxiety in real-time as soon as they arrive on our campus. They will very quickly gain a sense of belonging at Trails because of the sense of community that naturally occurs with the other students who are dealing with the common struggles of learning to manage adolescent anxiety.
Treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder - A teen boy in a beanie and a sweatshirt glowers at the viewer in the woods.

Dealing with Defiance: Six Tips for Decreasing Defiant Behavior

Most parents know what is like to live with a defiant teenager. Teens often feel inclined to push buttons and test the limits enforced upon them. This can be extremely frustrating for parents and create a constant power struggle within the home. The teenage years are when one is trying to figure out where they…
family reuniting - trails carolina reviews
Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.