Program Origins

Mending The Armor was born from the need for an effective treatment option for LDS youth struggling pornography addiction.  Addicted youth experience tremendous shame which often prevents them from being open, honest and getting help. Many attempt to overcome the addiction on their own, relying on willpower, only to remain abstinent for short periods of time before relapsing and experiencing continued shame and feelings of failure.

"Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

 Ephesians 6:11

Origins

Mending The Armor was born from the need for an effective treatment option for LDS youth struggling pornography addiction.  Addicted youth experience tremendous shame which often prevents them from being open, honest and getting help. Many attempt to overcome the addiction on their own, relying on willpower, only to remain abstinent for short periods of time before relapsing and experiencing continued shame and feelings of failure.

Therapy Associates, based in St. George Utah is an outpatient clinic that specializes in the assessment and treatment of teens.  The clinic provides a wide variety of services for youth including substance abuse and sexual offenses treatment.   After years of working with youth struggling with various addictions, Matt Bulkley and his colleagues at Therapy Associates developed a formal program for helping LDS youth achieve a sustained recovery from pornography addiction that they named Mending The Armor.

About Matt Bulkley


Matt Bulkley, LCSW

Matthew (Matt) Bulkley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in psychotherapy with adolescent  and young adult males.  He has worked in the area of youth treatment since 1995 and has provided treatment to hundreds of young men and their families in a wide variety of treatment settings including outpatient, inpatient, school, wilderness, psychiatric and in-home settings.  Matt runs an outpatient clinic, Therapy Associates, located in St. George, Utah where he specializes in the area of adolescent addiction working primarily with young people struggling with sexual behavior problems, pornography addiction, and substance abuse.  Matt's professional and personal experience with pornography addiction has resulted in his emergence as a leader and expert in the area of youth pornography addiction treatment.   Matt has developed treatment curriculum's that are used for adolescent substance abuse and sexual offenses.   Matt earned a Bachelor Degree from Brigham Young University and a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Utah.  He is the father of five children and enjoys spending time with his wife and kids in the red rock country of Southern Utah.  He also enjoys weight training and running in his spare time.  


The Stigma

Unfortunately, there is a stigma in LDS community about counseling and seeking professional help for personal and family problems. LDS families pride themselves on being healthy and functional, thus the idea “Healthy families don’t need professional counseling.”   While it is true that many LDS families are healthy and functional, when problems do arise and family members do need legitimate help, seeking help outside the family and the church can be uncomfortable and create a sense of shame.

Unfortunately, small problems can become major problems because of shame and fear of seeking help. Mending The Armor assists youth and families in learning to manage the shame that often times accompanies pornography addiction.  A majority of adults struggling with pornography addiction admit that their problems first began in adolescence, but waited until they were older to seek help.  Mending The Armor helps youth deal with problems while they are still young.  

The good news is that youth can overcome pornography addiction!  Young men can conquer the addiction, serve honorable missions, marry in the temple and live happy, fulfilling lives.  It is far wiser to get on top of the issue while still young, rather than hiding the problem, denying the need for help and fighting the addiction alone.


Treatment Congruent with LDS Standards

The controversy surrounding the appropriateness of masturbation is an example of the discrepancy between traditional treatment and LDS standards. Traditional treatment for youth endorses masturbation so long as it does not involve the use of deviant fantasies. This sends a mixed message for LDS youth who are striving to eliminate all unwanted sexual behaviors that masturbation is an acceptable activity in lieu of sexually acting out.  LDS youth are expected to develop self-discipline, "bridle their passions" and adhere to the highest moral standards regarding sexuality.  

Finding a therapist who adheres to a treatment philosophy that is congruent with LDS standards and beliefs pertaining to morality can pose a challenge for parents and bishops. Contrary to the belief of some professionals in the field of psychology who criticize LDS standards for creating excessive guilt, shame and sexual repression, youth who strive to abstain from masturbation, use of pornography and pre-marital sex  can achieve a truly happy life, based on moral principles without developmental damage as critics would suggest.  It should also be noted that there are many professional therapists who wholeheartedly agree with the concepts outlined in this program and believe in the benefits that come from encouraging youth to adhere to strong moral values as a means of living a fulfilling life. The treatment methods used in the program include approaches found under the umbrella of traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy and psycho-educational therapy. The approach also suggests a need to have a faith and belief in God as a Higher Power. This Higher Power is a force that is needed to be able to overcome addiction and in the LDS faith is what we know as the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


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