Experiential Education

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Positive Effects of Experiential Education in Therapeutic Programs

Experiential education is defined as “a process that occurs between a teacher and student that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content.” What we have found at Trails, and research continues to support, is that this method of teaching, and in essence learning, creates a transferability of knowledge and skills that oftentimes exceeds that of a traditional learning environment.

Studies show that participants in immersed therapeutic programs tend to go through three phases and the way in which they process, frame, and experience experiential education evolves with each phase. The phases are identified as a new member, established member, and advanced member, as classified by Amy Long, in her paper “Learning the Ropes”. What her studies have shown is that as members move through these phases their concept of success shifts from individual to group-oriented.

Trust moves from testing to building to modeling. Lastly, attitude moves from fun to focused and serious about what they are achieving.
What this and other studies reaffirm, and what we continually experience at Trails Carolina Therapeutic Programs, is that this type of hands-on learning teaches an array of life skills and perspectives that students are then able to use beyond that specific experience. The ability to work with a team, challenge themselves in a positive way, and communicate, are all skills students are able to use in their everyday life

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At Trails Therapeutic Programs, this is one of the many facets of what we do to help troubled youth make positive changes in their lives. This experience and approach, framed and guided by our professional staff, is built on proven, researched accounts of the positive effects of experiential education paired with wilderness therapy.

Our observations and years of experience helping youth through therapeutic programs only reaffirm the foundational research our therapeutic program is built upon.

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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