Help Your Teen Overcome Struggles: Equinox’s Healing Gap Year
If you’ve gotten to the point where you feel like you have tried every single avenue and nothing is getting through to your teenager, it’s time to seek outside help. An extended enrollment at a therapeutic program like Equinox is a structured, supportive gap year. It provides therapy, academics, and challenging recreational activities, all the elements needed to help a young person gain more insight and direction.
What is a gap year and why is it useful for teens?
A gap year is defined by the Gap Year Association as “a semester or year of experiential learning… in order to deepen one’s practical, professional and personal awareness.” It’s become more and more common for students to choose to take a gap semester or year mid-study during high school or before going to college. The National Network of Depression Centers urges families with teens struggling in academics, mental health, and social development to consider taking a break with a gap semester or year.
Depending on the circumstances, there’s never a wrong time to take a gap year—but a good indicator that it might be time to take a break is when your teen feels burned out socially and academically and are in desperate need of a change in environment or scenery. A change in scenery has many benefits with some of the most significant reasons being the ability to remove a teen from a troubled friend group or social pressures, giving them a fresh start, and having fewer technology distractions.
Gap years help students gain insight into their skills and goals, so they can enter adulthood or college with the right career or next steps for the future in mind. Taking a gap has many benefits as it will help refocus direction and attention on their studies, give them time and space to reset, and is a time to unwind from social pressure and stress.
Why take a gap at Equinox?
By taking a 9–12 month gap at Equinox, students will have the benefit of working on their relationships with themselves as well as engaging in positive interactions with teachers, clinical staff, and other students. Beyond the relationships that students form at Equinox, the location offers the perfect opportunity for teens to recharge, reconnect with the natural world, and reimagine their passions.
Equinox’s retreat-style summer camp setting has some unique offerings. Our campus is located on a private 145 acres nestled within the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, near the quaint town of Bat Cave, NC. Our extensive facilities include a dining hall, game room, school building, one of the nation’s oldest open-air gymnasiums, an outdoor pool, amphitheater, basketball court, tennis court, athletic field, fishing ponds, and hiking and mountain-biking trails.
Our campus is just a short drive from the dynamic city of Asheville, which is home to historic landmarks, cultural arts, and breathtaking natural beauty. At Equinox, students can embark on a journey of self-discovery and skill-building through a combination of therapy, experiential learning, and community service.
Individualized academics with a focus on experiential learning
We have designed our academic approach to meet students at their level. Our team works collaboratively with the school district and the family to develop an individualized academic plan to meet their needs. We offer students the ability to restore their good academic standing through credit recovery and/or accommodations that support their unique learning style through a scaffolding approach.
Students can also pursue a path of rigorous courses that challenge them appropriately, preparing them to successfully transition to their college of choice. With small class sizes, a personalized curriculum, and strong staff support, Equinox students can see incredible academic gains. In addition, we offer a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities, which include field trips, outings, camping trips, and other hands-on learning experiences that focus on a combination of education, recreation, community involvement, and therapeutic processing.
Therapy with a focus on healing relational trauma
Through a strong combination of individual, family, adventure, group, and milieu-based therapy, we strive to support the creation of self-sustaining change that lasts long after graduation from Equinox. We use a relationship-based model, meaning that we believe that relationships based on trust drive positive change. We implement evidence-based treatment modalities such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Brainspotting, and Neurofeedback in our effort to bring growth and healing to our clients.
Volunteering with a focus on serving the local community
As is often the case with many gap year programs, volunteer service work is a significant and exciting component of our program. Our students participate in service activities at least twice a month. These activities allow them to look beyond their own needs while giving back to the community.
Recognizing the needs of others provides opportunities for increased empathy and selflessness. A few examples of past service opportunities include animal shelters, nursing homes, local fitness events, food banks, nature centers and gardens, and various other community awareness events. We facilitate service opportunities based on the passions and interests of our students.
The overall value of taking a break with Equinox
Regardless of what a student’s particular goals are for a gap year, Equinox offers opportunities to develop academically, connect with nature while disengaging from negative influences, and participate in meaningful service experiences. Students in our program have all of these opportunities while engaging in integrative healing through individualized therapy. Equinox staff are proud to support students therapeutically as they dive into a season of personal development and discovery.
Director of Business Development, Founding Partner
Bryan, founding partner at Equinox RTC, also helped found Asheville Academy for Girls as well as assist in the startup of Solstice East. He has managed the development of the academy (Timbersong) associated with all three programs. He also has historically supported in operations and business development. Bryan’s prior experience includes work in multiple therapeutic and traditional school settings, residential and day.