In order to thrive as individuals and take care of our mental health, we need to be able to love ourselves. At Trails Carolina, we believe that self-love and self care are two important foundations for success and happiness. If a student feels successful and confident in themselves, they are more likely to break away from negative behavioral and emotional patterns.
Feeling Valued and Capable as Individuals
At Trails, we teach students that they have value just because of who they are as individuals. We help them understand that their feelings and thoughts are valuable no matter what they believe about themselves.
For many of our students, feelings of self worth and confidence have evaded them for years due to bullying and other outside factors. Throughout our program, we build a sense of community that helps students understand that they are loveable and that they matter to other people.
“In my group of students, we make the biggest deal out of every accomplishment that students achieve, says Ashley Brown MSW, LCSW, LCAS, Primary Therapist at Trails Carolina. “We utilize rites of passage and rituals to mark the moment when students overcome challenges and achieve success. For example, students wear a superhero cape for the day if they accomplish a specific goal. This helps contextualize the challenges students face and puts emphasis on their capability to face and overcome obstacles. It helps students feel valued and respected by others – something many have not felt in a very long time.”
The practice of self care is an extremely important concept that we help teach students. Practicing self-care on a regular basis promotes positive mental health. However, in order for individuals to truly take care of themselves, they need to feel like they are worthy enough for that self-care.
“When people aren’t taking care of themselves, that’s when challenges like depression, anxiety, and self harm can get worse,” comments Primary Therapist Derry O’Kane, MS, LPC, NCC. “By focusing on self love and self worth, we’re able to help individuals work through those challenges.”
Another way that Trails emphasizes the importance of self love is by honoring and celebrating the diversity of our students. Trails therapists give voice to students who feel comfortable discussing the ways in which they feel different from others, whether that be due to their race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. By promoting discussion about these differences, students feel accepted and loved by others and are more willing to turn that love back on themselves. Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin can be extremely damaging to feelings of self worth. By celebrating differences, we help students feel confident and proud of who they are.
Trails Carolina can help
Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 10-17, provides therapeutic support for young people struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and defiance.
For more information about our programming, please call 800-975-7303.
Ashley has a background in visual art, sexual violence education and prevention, and LGBTQA+ advocacy. She joined the Trails Carolina team in 2011 and has worked in wilderness therapy since 2006. Ashley believes in the power of wilderness to challenge, nurture, and hold a mirror up to young people and help them in finding reconnection with their families and selves. She grew up playing in woods and building forts behind her house. Nowadays, she enjoys exploring with her husband and therapy dog, Crossfit, and expressing her voice through voting, peaceful protest, and education.