Troubled Teen Programs

We Help Your Child Get Back On Track

Trails Carolina as an Option for Troubled Teens

At Trails Carolina, we understand the unique needs of troubled teens and their families. We strive to provide a safe and supportive environment where teens can work through their issues while learning the skills they need for long-term success. 

Our experienced team of therapists, educators, and wilderness guides is dedicated to helping teens develop healthy coping strategies that will promote personal growth in areas such as self-awareness, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and resilience. 

Through individual counseling sessions with licensed therapists combined with outdoor activities and adventure-based learning experiences tailored to each teen’s needs, Trails Carolina provides an effective intervention for struggling adolescents on their healing journey.


Our Residential Program Groups

At Trails Carolina, we provide a supportive, healthy environment for a variety of age groups to receive treatment for various behavioral and mental health issues. Our residential therapy programs include options for preteen boys (10-13), preteen girls (10-13), teen girls (14-17), and teen boys (14-17).

Wilderness Therapy for Boys 10-13

Wilderness Therapy for Girls 10-13

Wilderness Therapy for Girls 14-17

Wilderness Therapy for Boys 14-17

We believe that segmenting groups by age and gender allows our team of mental health professionals, residential and field staff, and accredited academic educators to provide more focused and effective personalized care to each student. Additionally, evidence shows that using segmented peer groups helps students learn to build positive relationships among their own peers. This makes the transition back to traditional school settings easier for young people. And it helps our students learn how to interact and build healthy connections for life!

Understanding The Need For Troubled Teen Programs

What We Mean By “Troubled Teen”

A troubled teen is an adolescent who is struggling with issues, including mental health and behavioral issues. These teens often face challenges that are difficult to overcome without help, such as depression, anxiety, gaming and technology addiction, substance use, and defiant behaviors. They may also have difficulty in school or engaging in social activities. 

In some cases, a traumatic event can trigger troubled behaviors in an otherwise well-adjusted teen. This can range from a car accident to the death of a loved one. Troubled teens may not have the skills necessary to process their feelings about these events and instead start behaving differently than before.

Troubled teenagers may also deal with family conflict, strained or complex family dynamics, or family communication challenges. They may feel lost and alone and don’t know how to cope with their emotions. A troubled teen’s family relationships can play a major role in that teen’s ability to feel understood, supported, and like they belong. Additionally, family involvement throughout the healing journey of a troubled teen can contribute greatly to that teen’s long-term progress. Read our blog post: Lifting The Weight: 5 Tips For Parenting Troubled Teens.

Wilderness Therapy Jobs working with adolescents and teens toward mental health, behavioral, and pathological demand avoidance treatment.
troubled teen programs

Combating Mental Health Stigma

It’s important to recognize that troubled teens are not bad kids, but rather young people who need help and support. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to being labeled a troubled teen, which can make it harder for teens who are struggling with mental health and behavioral problems to get the help they need. The additional stigma placed on truly beneficial therapeutic treatment programs as being marked as a part of a harmful “troubled teen industry” is making it even more difficult for families to find trusted, evidence-based, results-driven help for their children.

Combatting this stigma starts with raising awareness of what it means to be a teen dealing with mental, emotional, and behavioral problems and how parents can provide their children with the necessary support in order to turn their lives around. It also involves educating the public about the challenges that these teens face and how we can all work together as a community to create an environment where everyone feels safe and supported. 

With more understanding of the struggles faced by troubled teens, acceptance from society at large, and the continued commitment of Trails Carolina and other therapeutic programs to deliver evidence-based, long-term positive results for troubled teenager and their families, we can ensure that no one has to suffer through difficult times alone.

The Benefits of Troubled Teen Programs at Trails Carolina

The benefits of the wilderness programs for troubled teens at Trails Carolina include providing teens with a safe and supportive environment to work through their issues while learning the skills they need for success. 

Trails Carolina offers unique wilderness programs for troubled teens that offer not only the traditional therapeutic components of residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools but also an opportunity for teens to learn life skills and gain insight into their own mental health issues through nature. 

Unlike other programs, Trails Carolina utilizes evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), in addition to experiential activities like backpacking, hiking, and rock climbing. Our team of compassionate professionals strives to provide a supportive environment where troubled teens can feel safe while learning new coping skills and tools they need to make positive changes in their lives.

Healing Benefits Of Nature

horses in a field on the Trails Carolina campus

The wilderness setting in Western North Carolina provides a powerful backdrop for healing and growth. Here both negative and positive behaviors have natural consequences. It may sound simple, but this law of nature administered without judgment turns out to be a powerful tool that helps to instill valuable lessons. Over time, our students begin to understand and take ownership of their actions, leading to long-term success.

Throughout your child’s time at Trails, they’ll participate in a variety of experiential activities, both in the wilderness and at the base camp of our residential treatment center. These activities are designed to trigger peak emotions, offering structured, safe teaching opportunities that result in students strengthening their emotional control and self-confidence.

Healing Through Transitions

Practicing transitions can be a powerful tool for troubled teens. It helps them develop the skills and resources necessary to cope with difficult situations in their lives, both now and in the future. At Trails Carolina, we understand that transitions are particularly beneficial for those who have experienced trauma or instability in their home life, as it provides them with an opportunity to practice healthy coping strategies that will serve them well throughout adulthood.

Our troubled teen programs focus on transitions because structured transitions between settings also teach teens how to manage stress, regulate emotions, set goals, and build relationships — all of which can help them become more resilient when faced with adversity. Most importantly, practicing transitions gives our students the confidence that they can move forward from difficult times into better ones. With effective transition practices at Trails Carolina, troubled teens can gain a sense of control over their lives and prepare themselves for success in the long-term.


Healing Benefits Of Exercise


The psychological benefits of physical exercise are well documented. Regular exercise can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, dramatically improve self-esteem, and encourage an overall positive outlook.

For this reason, outdoor exercise is an integral part of the Trails wilderness program. While at Trails, students push their physical limits with hikes and other experiential activities, reaching new pinnacles of self-discovery and confidence.

Therapists & Outcomes For Our Adolescent Girls Groups

Everything we do at Trails Carolina is meant to prepare students and families to transition their wilderness experience into the real world and create a bright future.

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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