Teen sexual problems: Help for parents when a youth is resistant to talk

By Matt Bulkley | Addiction Recovery Today

STAR Guides Wilderness - Teen sexual problems - Help for parents when a youth is resistant to talk

Among the most frustrating situations that parents encounter with teens is knowing there is a problem, but being unable to talk with them about the issues. This dilemma is compounded when the issues are sexual problems including pornography addiction, sexual abuse, and cyber-sexual activity including soliciting sex on the internet.

Often teens are unwilling to engage in dialogue about any problems with their parents, but even more so when the issues include sexual acting out behavior. Recent research uncocered that a majority of youth have never openly participated in dialogue about sexual themes with their parents. For too many parents and youth, sexual themes continue to be too uncomfortable to address. When a teen begins to encounter issues pertaining to sexual behaviors, many will go to great lengths to conceal it from their parents.

When discovered, often times well intended parents will seek counseling or psychotherapy services for their teen in an effort to provide their child with the chance to talk about sexual issues in a safe setting with a caring professional. In some cases, the teen is ready to talk about these issues, but what do parents do when their child won’t talk to the therapist? Outpatient counseling is only effective when communication occurs between the client and the therapist and a treatment resistant teen can’t be forced to talk. Parents often feel powerless to help their child under these circumstances and are unsure where to turn for help.

So back to the question of what can parents do if their child is struggling with sexual behavior problems, but is resistant to help? Consider Star Guides wilderness therapy program. The first of its kind nationally, Star Guides provides specialized treatment for teens and young adults who are struggling with any number of sexual behavior problems. Its mission statement is “Navigation to Healthy Sexuality”. No matter what the problems have been, Star Guides believes that all youth can learn to achieve healthy sexuality. Star Guides believes strongly in early intervention.

Unlike outpatient counseling or even residential treatment, Star guides Wilderness therapy approach is uniquely effective for the following reasons:

  • wilderness placement “unplugs” teens from all technology and communication with the outside world requiring them to develop healthy coping skills for dealing with problems. Many youth today have never spent a day without technology and have become dependent on the use of technology. Wilderness placement immediately disrupts the dependency on viewing pornography as a coping style.
  • wilderness placement requires more than “talk” to be successful. Savvy, treatment resistant youth are no longer able to manipulate their environment to avoid responsibility. The wilderness delivers natural consequences for irresponsibility that can’t be manipulated by charming or charismatic talk. Youth who have been in denial about their addiction are no longer able to hide their issue through manipulating others.
  • wilderness placement reveals an individual for who they are at their core. Time spent in nature is the quickest way to begin the process of self-discovery. Pornography addiction prevents an individual from discovering their true identity. Shame, guilt, humiliation, self-loathing and depression interfere with this process. Wilderness placement allows addicted teens to begin to heal from the emotional scars that so often accompany pornography addiction.
  • wilderness placement allows addicted teens to gain new perspective on life. Without the amenities of modern society, teens realize how much they have taken for granted in their lives. Teens gain a renewed appreciation for their parents, their homes, their health and their families. They are able to put into perspective the destructive role that pornography has played in their lives and are able to re-prioritize what is important to them. This allows for the creation and implementation of a recovery plan to guide their return back home following completion of the program.

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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