I was asked this question by a mother who was looking into our Sons of Helaman program.
My son has begun working with a therapist on his pornography addiction. The therapist has recommended an LDS 12 step program to supplement therapy. How does your program differ from a 12 step program?
The 12 steps program provided by LDS Family Services is an excellent program built upon the strong tradition of addiction recovery established by Alcohol Anonymous. The leaders of LDS Family Services put a lot of time and energy into making sure the principles were accurately transferred into LDS doctrine and healthy psychology. The program is run primarily by volunteers or those who are given a calling to do so. By definition, it is considered a support group. Members of the group share and discuss personal application of the principles.
In contrast, Sons of Helaman is classified as a therapeutic group. Each group is run by a Master’s Degree level clinician. Confrontation, drills, deep exploration, and other elements of group therapy are applied. SofH groups average about 8 participants, while support groups are normally much larger.
Sons of Helaman also primarily focuses on the pre-mission and pre-marriage age group. The young men we work with have at times attended the 12 steps program and tend to be uncomfortable due to the age and phase of life differences. Also, because these young men are usually unmarried, a different dynamic is required.
Another difference is that the 12 steps program is free. This is because it is run by volunteers in church provided buildings. Sons of Helaman works hard to have the best, well trained clinicians run their groups. Notwithstanding the combined cost of compensating the clinicians and paying minimal overhead, we have been able to keep the cost near 1/4 the cost of individual therapy. Because of the therapeutic nature of Sons of Helaman, a family can often avoid the cost of weekly individual therapy, thus reducing the overall cost of treatment for their young man.
I recommend exposing your son to the different forms of treatment, then deciding as a family which will best suit his needs. I hope this helps. Call me if you have more questions.