Finding meaning in the mundane

By Matt Bulkley | Addiction Treatment

STAR Guides Wilderness - Finding meaning in the mundane

At STAR Guides, we hold fast to a model of wilderness therapy that could be considered good, old, classic, hard-nosed wilderness treatment”. We have a firm belief that we are not providing entertainment for youth, rather we are providing treatment. We are disrupting dependencies to which youth have used to avoid responsibility. To our dismay, increasingly wilderness therapy is turning into adventure-based therapy that provides youth opportunities to participate in outdoor adventure, excitement and recreation rather than truly disrupting dependencies.

Our experience is that the core issue for many youth today is the inability to manage the emotional demands of life. One of the major causes of this issue is that many youth have come to believe that they exist to be entertained. They conclude if they are not being entertained then they are bored, discontent and dissatisfied and they expect others in their life to provide them entertainment.

At STAR Guides we believe in the importance of allowing youth to finding satisfaction in the mundane. We don’t entertain our students, rather we allow them to discover the satisfaction that comes from finding meaning in what it takes to be responsible while residing in a wilderness setting. In the process, youth learn to manage the demands of life without a dependency on entertainment.

Amazingly, as students learn how to manage the emotional demands of life in the desert, STAR Guides students begin to find satisfaction in the mundane. Things like hiking desert peaks, building fires with bow drills, cooking their own pots of food each night, setting up group shelters and leading group therapy sessions become highly rewarding.

This is the way that wilderness therapy is so effective in disrupting sexual addiction and dependency on technology for youth and young adults.

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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