Finding Strength in the Wilderness: Overcoming Teen Bullying Through Therapeutic Approaches

Overcoming teen bullying can be difficult for adolescents and their families. Bullying is a pervasive issue that affects many children and teenagers, causing significant emotional distress and long-term psychological consequences.

Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program, offers a unique and effective approach to help both children and teens who have been bullied and those who have engaged in bullying behaviors. 

By combining the healing power of the wilderness with evidence-based therapeutic interventions, Trails Carolina empowers children and teens to overcome their experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms. 

Explore how Trails Carolina’s therapeutic approaches can heal the negative effects of bullying and assist children and teens in finding strength and resilience in the face of bullying.

Understanding Teen Bullying and Its Impact

Young boy in a yellow shirt overcoming teen bullying.

Bullying can manifest in various forms, including verbal bullying, physical bullying, physical intimidation, or cyberbullying. 

Bullying occurs in a variety of locations and through a variety of means such as in person at a child’s school or online bullying via social media sites. 

Its detrimental effects on a child’s and teenager’s mental, emotional, and social well-being cannot be overlooked, although many adults, school staff, and parents may not know how to best go about handling bullying. 

The impact of bullying may include:

  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Academic struggles and decreased performance
  • Social isolation and withdrawal

The Therapeutic Power of Wilderness Therapy for Overcoming Teen Bullying

Wilderness therapy provides a unique environment for healing and personal growth. Trails Carolina harnesses the inherent therapeutic benefits of the wilderness to create a supportive and transformative experience for children and teens. The wilderness setting offers:

  • A break from the pressures and triggers of everyday life
  • Opportunities for self-reflection and introspection
  • Connection with nature and its calming effects
  • Building resilience and self-reliance through outdoor challenges
  • A supportive and non-judgmental community of peers and therapists

Healing from Bullying: Approaches for Teens Who Have Been Bullied

Social Isolation in Teens

To help children and teens who have been bullied, Trails Carolina implements a range of therapeutic approaches designed to foster healing, resilience, and the development of healthier coping mechanisms as well as teach the tools for peer mediation and techniques to stop bullying. 

Here are specific examples of how Trails Carolina wilderness therapy assists teens who have been bullied:

1. Individual Therapy and Personalized Treatment Plans

Trails Carolina provides one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist who specializes in working with children and teens who have experienced bullying. Through individual therapy, children and teens receive personalized support and guidance to address the emotional impact of bullying. Specific ways in which Trails Carolina helps children and teens include:

  • Creating a safe space for children and teens to process their traumatic experiences and express their emotions without judgment.
  • Working with therapists to develop coping strategies and enhance emotional regulation skills, helping children and teens manage the anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem associated with bullying.
  • Exploring and challenging negative self-beliefs that may have developed as a result of the bullying experience.

2. Peer Group Activities

Trails Carolina incorporates peer activities and group therapy as an essential component of the program, providing children and teens who have been bullied with opportunities to connect with friends and peers who have gone through similar experiences. In peer groups, students focus on creating a supportive and empathetic environment for their peers. Specific ways in which Trails Carolina helps teens through peer groups include:

  • Engaging in group discussions and sharing their experiences, fostering a sense of validation, understanding, and support.
  • Learning from the experiences of others, gaining perspective on different coping mechanisms and strategies.
  • Building empathy and healthy communication skills by actively listening to others’ stories and offering support and encouragement.

3. Nature-Based Experiential Therapy

Trails Carolina utilizes experiential therapy techniques to help children and teens who have been bullied develop resilience, challenge limiting beliefs, and regain a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Specific ways in which Trails Carolina supports children and teens in this way include:

  • Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, and camping that provide physical challenges and opportunities for personal growth.
  • Encouraging teens to set and achieve goals during wilderness expeditions, helping them build confidence and a sense of competence.
  • Connecting the lessons learned in the wilderness to real-life situations, enabling teens to develop problem-solving skills and apply healthier coping mechanisms.

4. Natural Horsemanship

Trails Carolina incorporates natural horsemanship as a powerful modality to support children and teens who have been bullied. Working with horses can help children and teens develop emotional awareness, assertiveness, and healthy communication skills. Specific ways in which Trails Carolina utilizes natural horsemanship  include:

  • Interacting with horses in a structured and supportive environment, fostering positive relationships based on trust, boundaries, and clear communication.
  • Exploring metaphors between horse-human interactions and real-life relationships, providing insights into personal dynamics and opportunities for growth.
  • Developing empathy and understanding through observing the horses’ responses, as they can be sensitive to human emotions and behaviors.

5. Parallel Family Therapy

Trails Carolina recognizes the importance of involving the family in the healing process for teens who have been bullied. Family therapy and educational sessions provide a space for open communication, understanding, and support. Specific ways in which Trails Carolina supports families include:

  • Holding regular therapy sessions that involve both the child and their family members, addressing family dynamics and communication patterns.
  • Facilitating discussions about the impact of bullying on the family unit, promoting understanding and empathy among family members.
  • Providing guidance and tools for rebuilding trust, strengthening relationships, and fostering a supportive and nurturing family environment.

Through these comprehensive therapeutic approaches, Trails Carolina empowers children and teens who have been bullied to heal from their past experiences, develop resilience, and cultivate a positive self-image. By combining the healing power of the wilderness with evidence-based interventions, Trails Carolina creates a transformative experience that supports teens in finding strength and overcoming the challenges associated with bullying.

Recovery and Growth: Approaches for Teens Who Have Bullied Others

bullying prevention

In addition to helping those who have experienced bullying heal, Trails Carolina recognizes the importance of addressing the underlying issues that contribute to bullying behaviors in order to facilitate recovery and personal growth for children and teens who have engaged in bullying.

Through targeted therapeutic approaches, Trails Carolina helps these children and teens develop self-awareness, empathy, and healthier coping strategies.

Here are specific examples of how Trails Carolina wilderness therapy assists teens who have bullied others:

1. Anger Management and Emotional Regulation

Trails Carolina incorporates various techniques and activities to help children and teens with anger management and emotional regulation, which are crucial in addressing aggressive behaviors associated with bullying. Some approaches include:

  • Outdoor activities that provide a healthy outlet for anger, frustration and aggressive behavior, through activities such as hiking, backpacking, and physical challenges.
  • Individual therapy sessions to explore the root causes of anger and aggression, while teaching techniques to manage these emotions constructively.
  • Mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques to promote self-calming and emotional self-regulation.

2. Empathy Building and Perspective-Taking

Developing empathy and the ability to see situations from different perspectives is key in fostering understanding and reducing harmful behaviors. Trails Carolina employs various strategies to help children and teens who bully or have bullied others enhance their empathy and perspective-taking skills, such as:

  • Engaging in group activities that promote teamwork, cooperation, and understanding of others’ experiences.
  • Participating in experiential therapy exercises that encourage teens to reflect on their actions and bullying behavior and consider the impact on others.
  • Engaging in role-playing exercises where children and teens can practice seeing situations from different viewpoints.

3. Social Skills Development

Trails Carolina understands the significance of social skills in promoting positive interactions and building healthy relationships. Children and teens who have engaged in bullying behaviors often lack effective communication skills and struggle with forming positive connections. Trails Carolina employs the following methods to address these challenges:

  • Peer group therapy sessions that focus on improving communication techniques, active listening, and assertiveness skills.
  • Collaborative outdoor activities that require teamwork, communication, and problem-solving among peers.
  • Opportunities for positive peer feedback and constructive feedback from therapists to encourage self-awareness and growth.

4. Restorative Justice Practices with Peer Groups

Trails Carolina incorporates restorative justice practices to help children and teens understand the impact of their actions, take responsibility, and actively work towards repairing the harm caused by their bullying behaviors. Some specific approaches include:

  • Restorative peer group activities where children and teens engage in open and honest conversations, expressing their feelings and understanding the perspectives of those affected by their actions.
  • Collaborative projects that promote accountability and allow teens to make amends, such as community service initiatives or organizing events that promote kindness and inclusion.
  • Guided discussions and therapeutic interventions focused on self-reflection and developing a sense of empathy and compassion towards others.

By integrating these therapeutic approaches into the wilderness therapy program, Trails Carolina supports children and teens who have bullied others in their journey towards self-discovery, personal growth, and developing healthier behaviors and relationships with other students.

Help Your Teen Overcome Bullying Behavior with Wilderness Therapy 

Trails Carolina offers a holistic and compassionate approach to help both children and teens who have been bullied and those who have engaged in bullying behaviors. 

By combining the healing power of the wilderness with evidence-based therapeutic interventions, Trails Carolina combats the negative effects of bullying, empowering teenagers to overcome their experiences, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and build resilience. 

Through individual therapy, group therapy, experiential therapy, equine-assisted therapy, family therapy, anger management, empathy building, social skills development, and restorative justice practices, Trails Carolina supports parents and teens on their journey towards recovery, growth, and a brighter future.

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.

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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


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