Second Nature Georgia Campus

236 File Street 
Clayton, GA


John Karren/Leah Halverson


Boys and Girls

Call admissions department for current tuition.

30 days to 45 days

Welcome to Second Nature - the industry's most sophisticated wilderness therapy treatment program. At Second Nature we provide insight, direction and hope to troubled teens and their families. As the therapists and other staff members help your teen discover the reasons behind his/her actions, your teen becomes a student of self. She/he can then make healthy choices concerning the future.
We understand that many parents are not sure where they can go for teen help. We have an entire staff of qualified individuals who will provide solutions to your questions about your troubled teen, his/her needs, and your own needs.

We congratulate you on taking the first step to help your teen. By seeking out information about a therapy program, you could literally change your child’s life as well as your own. Second Nature offers a variety of troubled teen programs. Now that you have already begun the process of getting help, we can assist you in the next step, which is to enroll your child in a recovery program.

Second Nature Programs operate year-round and application for admission may take place at any time. Acceptance into the program is based on a thorough review of the completed application. The approval process includes a review of your child’s current and past behavior, emotional, psychological, and educational evaluations, as well as a review of your child’s medical history. Review for admission also includes a consultation with parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s), and with appropriate professionals as needed.

Appropriate candidates are adolescent males and females, ages 13-17, (18 and older in the Entrada Program) with a history of moderate to severe emotional and behavioral problems, low self-esteem, academic underachievement, substance abuse, and family conflict.

To discuss your child’s specific needs and for personalized details regarding your child’s admission into Second Nature, please contact our Admissions team toll-free at (866) 205-2500. Our representatives are available seven days a week.

Second Nature offers help to families with troubled teens, ages 13 to 17 years old, who struggle with a variety of emotional and behavioral issues such as teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and learning disabilities. These issues negatively affect school performance, socialization, self-esteem, and resilience. Typical students have suffered from low self-esteem, teen depression, substance abuse, isolated themselves, expect instant gratification, or act entitled. They have often been found to be self-medicating, are battling with parent-child conflict and failing to respond to limits and rules. Our educated and experienced admissions counselors will help both you and your child understand the treatment process specific to your teen.

Second Nature Wilderness Program has clinical experience and success with:

Teen Depression
Learning Differences
Processing Disorder (Visual, Auditory)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Mild Eating Disorder Treatment
Attention Deficit Disorder
Gender Specific Issues
Self-Mutilation Treatment (Cutting)
Reactive Attachment Disorder Treatment (Attachment Disorder)
Social skill deficits: non-verbal learning disorders and Asperger’s traits (or PDD)
Substance Abuse
As you proceed with your decision to help your child, please feel free to contact us by email or telephone. Our admissions staff will then be able to answer any questions you may have concerning how we manage teen depression in the field, our specific interventions to oppositional defiant disorder, substance abuse treatment, etc Our admissions staff will answer any questions you may have concerning Second Nature’s clinical expertise, program specifics and how we can help your child.

Second Nature incorporates experiential education about local history, environmental issues, geology, psychology, health and writing assignments with daily programming.

WillowCreek School, an affiliate of Second Nature, has developed curriculum which both gives students credit for the work they are doing and helps get them back in the mainstream of academics, including the assessment piece that is often missing from Wilderness Programs about how students do with academic challenges. Two academic credits will be issued to students enrolling in all the programs

Ph.D., LCSW, and MSW therapists

The objectives of Wilderness Treatment (as defined by Second Nature) are threefold: clinical treatment, natural observation & assessment, and preparation for long-term solutions. This explanation begins to highlight the variables that make wilderness therapy efficacious, and even more specifically, why Second Nature has emerged as the premier wilderness therapy program.

Remoteness/Free from distractions/defenses

The thing a child realizes when he enters the wilderness is that the distractions he has adapted to are not present. The remoteness of the backcountry provides the child with little to hide behind and funnels his or her energies in such a way that intervention is effectively focused on those areas that are present. Although many students are savvy and can demonstrate high functioning, the rawness of the environment tends to evoke patterns and dynamics parallel to the behaviors that led to their enrollment at Second Nature. Additionally, the group experience facilitates that the child respond to peers and adults without his or her using their familiar escape routes of shutting down, running away, or other oft used responses to confrontation and accountability.


First, nature is unrelenting, cannot be negotiated with or manipulated. Students at Second Nature will experience the natural lessons that life has to offer by living in the context of the natural environment. Second, the staff, therapist, and peers (the groups operate in open-ended groups with students at various stages of treatment) are experts at holding boundaries and creating natural and logical consequences that mirror the lessons that are needed in the broader journey of life. And finally, the parents are provided with support coaching and the distance necessary to create and reestablish healthy patterns for communication and behavior (communication begins with letter writing and can sometimes include family therapy phone calls). Thus, the experience becomes the “immovable object” and your child is left to experience the futility of his or her old coping strategies or to adapt, utilizing new tools and insights.


The use of metaphor is recognized as the most effective way in bypassing a client’s natural resistance and defenses in therapy; fundamentally, wilderness therapy is a rich field for metaphors. Teachers’ lessons and religious texts alike are filled with allegory, parables, fables, and symbols due to the effectiveness of their use in teaching lessons that match the various levels of insight and resistance of the student. Therapeutic metaphor has always been associated with bypassing resistance in therapy: Freud and others utilized dreams, hypnosis, and other metaphorically rich interventions because the defense of the conscious does not easily recognize the layers of the metaphor and thus the messages and lessons can be incorporated. Think for example on those things that the adolescents reject, apparently without rationale or reason that could be of benefit to their lives: for instance, the drop-out who rejects education and is not receptive to lectures from parents on the value of education in the well-rounded life. Yet, that same child might be open to listening at the foot of a wilderness counselor while she teaches the value of preparation, study, natural science and so forth because these directly relate to the skills of camping and survival. Or the adolescent who lacks discipline or work ethic, yet is willing to spend hours harvesting materials, preparing the bow-drill set and working to create fire using the Native American Bow-drill technique. A very important and often neglected part of this process is that the wilderness therapy team must be skilled in decoding the metaphor so that the stories make practical sense for assessment and aftercare planning. Without this translation, consultants, schools and parents are left wondering the value of such lessons (bow-drill fires, group ceremonies and initiatives, making a flute, participation in a Native American solo, even backpacking, etc.) as they pertain to everyday life.


Perhaps most obvious is the experiential value of wilderness therapy. Parents often refer to their child’ ability to manipulate or say what s/he thinks others want to hear. The experiential aspect of the wilderness program allows the therapist to require more than just lip service or promises for change. The child must perform and behave and live the change. The narrow experience of the wilderness group becomes a microcosm from which the child and the therapist can extrapolate the lessons and experiences to broader contexts of living. The child will often unconsciously recreate, however subtly, the same type of relationships, patterns, symptoms and dynamics she did at home and the therapist can use these characteristics to help the child first see the problem in this new light, and then change using new insights and skills.

Self Esteem

The wilderness experience is very foreign to most students and represents a challenge even to the experienced camper. The child’s poor self image is often manifested in the initial stages with an “I can’t do this” response. To which we and the parents respond, “I know it is hard, but I believe you can.” The child has often cultivated the skills to avoid challenges and discomfort in its infinite forms, but the muscles of adaptation, resilience, and other coping attributes have atrophied. Thus the child is again required to align himself with the immovable object and create or access in himself the ability to adapt. Feelings of confidence, competence, and strength will emanate from the child as the short weeks unfold. It is one of the common denominators of the experience for the parents to hear and see things in their child they never knew existed. Or thought had long since been lost. This new sense of confidence and strength carries into other areas of life. When therapists and parents talk about toughlove, they are talking about the strength it takes a parent to allow their child to suffer through these growing pains. A parent’s instinct is often to fix, rescue or enable the child; the parent truly believes the child needs help. The wilderness therapist, embedded in a nurturing and firm context, communicates to the child, “I know you can do this.” There is no message more empowering. Success in the wilderness is only a surprise to the child. And most often the child internalizes self-respect, self-efficacy, and confidence.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Wilderness Programs


How We Can Help Your Family

Discriminating among the many programs or evaluating the effectiveness of your child's current program can be a daunting challenge. The Professionals we work with provide consultation to families with a personal approach. You are assured that you are in good hands.

Get help now!

Troubled Teens help contact form We are happy to assist you in finding the help you need for your troubled teen or struggling child.

Help my troubled teen!

Featured Teen Help Providers

Featured Teen Help Providers

USA Guides - Youth Transport Service