Troubled Youth Heal With Adventure & Animals
Along with wilderness skills, academics, and equine programming, our students also have a unique opportunity to interact with snakes, possums, lizards, fish, and other unique animals.
Taught by our resident ecology expert, Steve O’Neil, also known as “Science Steve”, our students take part in a hands-on ecology program that teaches them about the environment, ecology, and perception. This noteworthy aspect of our program provides academic and therapeutic benefits as students reflect on how they are misunderstood just like these animals.
Years of research studying troubled youth and animal interaction in therapeutic environments has shown important gains made in self-esteem and self-concept. Many traditional assisted animal therapy programs involve dogs and horses. Coupled with Trails’ equine relational programming, we find our students interacting with our misunderstood animals of snakes, spiders, turtles, possums, and others help our students gain self-esteem and confidence.
Struggling teens oftentimes see themselves in these animals and are given the opportunity to re-create their relationship with these feelings by confronting their fears, actively caring for these animals, and teaching others about why these creatures behave the way they do.
Steve describes this process simply by saying, “the students often don’t know how to respond to others,” and like a snake shedding its old skin, Trails gives them a supportive, structured environment to navigate through the challenges of confronting old beliefs and fears. The animals also help students find new ways to communicate and cope with the challenges of growing up.
Animals Provide Help For Troubled Youth: Learning Emotional Regulation & Communication With Horses
Equine programming helps students overcome their struggles and reconnect with their friends and families. Horses teach students to be more self-aware and exercise greater control over their internal states.
The communication skills required for working with a horse directly translate into the communication skills needed to have healthy, reciprocal relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and other important figures in their lives. Trails Carolina’s Equine Specialist can help create these changes for your child.
Through our equine therapy program, students work on co-regulation, non-verbal communication, and reciprocal relationships.
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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