What is the typical profile of a STAR Guides wilderness student?

By Matt Bulkley | Blog Education Series

STAR Guides Wilderness - What is the typical profile of a STAR Guides wilderness student

A common questions parents ask when searching for a treatment program for their teen is “what kind of kids will he be around while in the program?”

STAR Guides is unique in that it is the only wilderness therapy program in the country that specializes exclusively in the assessment and treatment of pornography, sexual addiction and maladaptive sexual issues. Contrary to the stereotype that some hold regarding these issues, the youth who come to STAR Guides are actually good young men. They are respectful, caring teens and young adults who want to be successful in life, but are struggling with some form of a sexual compulsive behavior that has resulted in the development of an addiction that have been unable to overcome. In some cases, the addiction has led to a poor choice to act out sexually in an illegal manner.

Youth who attend our program have not been involved in gangs, drugs or a criminal lifestyle. Rather, the typical profile can be described as youth who have attempted to hide or conceal problematic sexual behaviors due to shame and guilt about these issues. Most are struggling with emotional and mental scars that stem from feelings of deep shame and guilt because of their sexual problems that has so often been concealed and hidden from others. Most are struggling to develop self-confidence and a belief that they can overcome their addictions and achieve a happy life as an adult. The underlying feelings of inadequacy, depression, self-loathing and shame often undermine the youth’s ability to achieve success in other areas of life which has led to the need for participation in a treatment program.

The element that ties all of our students together is the absolute need that each has to develop an identity based on successfully managing the emotional demands of their life without the use of a dependency on sexual behaviors. This is what the STAR Guides experience provides to them—an “in vivo” experience of facing the most demanding challenge of their life and through great effort, to develop coping skills and confidence to complete 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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