Celebrating student success: The graduation

By Matt Bulkley | Addiction Recovery Today

STAR Guides Wilderness - Celebrating student success - The graduation

When a student has completed all of the requirements of the program and has made therapeutic progress with the issues that resulted in their placement in the program, the student and parents participate in the graduation process.

This includes the parents traveling to St. George and participating in a two day event that includes spending the night in the field with their student.

We believe it is vital for parents to actually go to the field and spend time in the wilderness with their student to be able to truly gain an appreciation for what their student has accomplished. It is simply not possible grasp the experience through photos and phone updates. Parents have the chance to cook on the fire, sleep in sleeping bags under the stars and experience wilderness living on the ground level.

The initial reunion of the student and his/her parents is filled with positive emotion and the excitement of seeing one another and celebrating the student success becomes an experience that is used as a platform for continuing to strengthen the parent-child relationship which typically has been severely damaged.

The time that parents and students spend together in the field allows the parents to observe and experience their student managing life demands effectively and even looking out for their comfort as the student has become highly competent in wilderness living.

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

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