Unlike any other past generation, today’s teens face the new challenge of technology dependence. Due to the onslaught of technology, many youth today spend a majority of their waking hours staring at a screen, texting on a smart phone, gaming and surfing endlessly. Too many youth today have developed a dependency to being entertained by their technology and have lost the ability to manage the emotional demands of the lives without escaping into technology. Increasingly, this phenomena contributes to sexual behavior problems because of the abundance of and ease of access to internet pornography and cyber-sexual opportunities. Internet porn and the sexualization of our culture contribute to a distorted and inaccurate view of sexuality for many teens. For youth struggling with sexual behavior issues, these distractions create significant challenges to truly focus on the issues in their life that have resulted in the development of their sexual problems. Instead being “numbed” by technology becomes a form of avoidance for personal responsibility.
Talking about sexual behavior problems is difficult under any circumstances for teens so hiding behind technology such as a smart phone, I-pod or video game becomes a way that some avoid dealing with these difficult issues. Unlike any other treatment venue including outpatient or residential treatment, wilderness therapy has a way of breaking down the resistance that teens have to talking about the sexual issues with which they are struggling. In the wilderness setting, it becomes impossible to hide behind technology or to tap into other dependencies to modern society that can be used for avoidance. Under these conditions, participants are able to find new perspective and begin the process of making the needed changes to improve their lives. Teens struggling with sexual addiction, sexual compulsive behavior and even sexual offending behaviors are able to engage in a therapeutic process designed to disrupt dependency on technology and begin engaging in treatment to strengthen their emotional coping skills. It is through learning to manage life problems by developing healthy coping skills that allows teens to recover from the grasp that sexual compulsive behaviors have had on their young lives.
Learning to manage the demands of life over the space of several weeks living in a wilderness setting becomes a building block for the development of healthy coping skills for dealing with life challenges including managing deviant sexual feelings and urges. Time in the wilderness has a way of revealing to a teen the person who they can become despite past behaviors—they don’t have to be defined by past mistakes, rather they can create an identity based on strengths and positive attributes.
We hold a strong belief that wilderness therapy is the ideal venue for treating sexual behavior problems as it creates an impact on young lives far greater than what incarceration, residential treatment or outpatient treatment can provide. This is why STAR Guides provides a life changing experience for its participants! If you have a teen struggling with sexual behavior problems contact us today at 800.584.4629!
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.