The “Smith” family shares their story of brothers who were victims and how they found help.
Posts Tagged ‘therapist’
The “Smith” family shares their story of brothers who were victims and how they found help.
Around this time of year I often reflect back to a decision that I made many years ago to leave my then current employment and begin working as a clinician at Oxbow. As a new clinician, I felt ill prepared to help these young men whose families had entrusted me with helping their son, and family, escape from a very dark and painful place to a place where healing and healthy relationships can grow.
I am continually impressed that students, both past and present, come into Oxbow and begin the extremely painful process of disclosing and getting honest with themselves and their families. As the young men and their families continue to progress they begin the battle to overcome their challenges. This can be seen during their entire time at Oxbow.
Over the years that I have worked at Oxbow I have been the direct therapist for over 30 young men, not including those currently enrolled. They all seem to have one thing in common – they struggle. Although no struggle is the same, many of these brave young men struggle with issues such as low self worth, shame, guilt, being abused, abusing others, selfishness, entitlement, sexual orientation, autism spectrum, gender identity, drugs and alcohol, and countless others. As I think back to all of those brave young men that I have been privileged to work with over the years I remember their valiant efforts to battle on a daily basis to work to cope and overcome many of the challenges that they have faced. They have all come to accept that in order to have the future that they hope and dream for they have to fight to achieve it. This is done with the help of their families, therapist, and supportive peers and staff at Oxbow.
But I am afraid that many of our young men get the impression that the battle exists only at Oxbow and that upon leaving life will be great because the battle has ended. This could not be further from the truth. To all of our brave young men, both past and present, that at one time called Oxbow home I would like to speak directly to you. The purpose in learning to battle and fight for your dreams at Oxbow is to prepare you to continue fighting after your time at Oxbow has ended.
The world does not give you what you want because you are a great guy or have been kind to others or you have completed treatment at Oxbow. Your success in life after Oxbow depends on your willingness to use all of the skills and tools you have learned and continue to fight and battle to be healthy, have empathy for others (even if they have none for you), and to put those you love and those who love you as a priority and work every day to maintain those relationships.
From the day you were born you have been battling to crawl, walk, talk, run, and this battle is endless. Don’t be discouraged. From this struggle you become stronger, smarter, wiser, and will have many fulfilling and meaningful relationships along the way. Remember there is strength in the struggle! We love you! - Todd Spaulding, Clinical Director
On a recent trip to California I was visiting with the family of a recent Oxbow graduate at his home. While we were talking his parents had a meaningful realization. They were talking about how they were so fearful, anxious, angry, and distraught the day that they brought their son to Oxbow. They talked about the devastation that they felt when the sexual issues were discovered and the trauma that they endured before they found the help of Oxbow.
In the next sentence parents reflected how they were in such a different place today. Today there were still challenges but these challenges were “dreadfully normal.” They talked about transporting kids to school, coordinating therapy appointments, helping with homework, their jobs, advocating to help their sons receive the school services they needed, but there was no mention of the pain, guilt, and shame that had plagued the family less than two years ago. Gone was the pain, anger, and shame and what they discovered as they sat in their home was hope that their son can have the future that they as parents dreamed he would have. As we said our goodbyes and gave the family a hug I asked the parents to take care of our son. I seemed to walk a little lighter knowing that we at Oxbow had played a small part in returning this boy to his parents and restoring their hopes and dreams that years before they had felt were lost. by Todd Spaulding, Clinical Director, Oxbow Academy
A few months ago I was involved in a therapeutic intervention with a 15 yr old young man who was stalled out in his treatment. He had decided to resist all efforts to re-engage the therapeutic process and take personal accountability for the state of his relationship with his parents. It appeared that he was satisfied with the distress he was causing his parents and seemed willing to continue in his present course.
The treatment team discussed his case at length and determined that the battle between this young man and his parents was a very common one with adolescents who are placed in treatment. At the core of this issue is the desire for the young man to keep his relationship with his parents in a holding pattern. H wanted to keep himself and his needs as a priority. He saw his parent’s responsibility as meeting those needs. As long as the parent child relationship continued to support this holding pattern, the young man will reward his parents with a degree of positive behavior. The variable in this toxic relationship, however, is the fact that the young man’s needs seem to be fairly fluid in nature. What satisfies him one day does not the next and he had become very adept at keeping his parents hopping from one unfulfilled need to another by an array of temper tantrum techniques. What we were seeing in treatment was just more of the same.
But something happened that this young man did not calculate. His parents decided that they no longer would support the static relationship they had been in for the last 15 years. The words they spoke to their son were well thought out and did not come packaged in bubble wrap. They went like this, “We are no longer going to support the lack of progress in our relationship. As of today, we are walking away from the table and you have some choices to make. We will support your basic needs but will no longer support your lack of progress with our attention. The only contact we will have with you will be through your therapist. We hope that one day you will choose us and accept your responsibility to an evolving relationship with us”. Then the click of the phone being hung up echoed in the room.
The young man was taken back, but the past years’ had a history of similar events. He had seen this before, so he thought. It was around day 30 where the young man’s countenance changed. He began to ask the question, “Could this be for real? Could my parents really get along without taking care of all my needs? Is it possible that I am not the center of my parents universe?” That was the turning point.
This once very entitled young man began to see how much he needed a relationship with his parents. Not just to take care of the things he lacked the skill, experience, and influence to manage, but emotionally he started to see his relationship with his parents in a new light. It took a while for him to manage the pain and regret that settled in on him. He was now in a very vulnerable position and at this point started to ask the right questions. “What do I need to do to fix my relationship with my parents?” His therapist had to take a moment to compose himself before returning the same question. “What do you think you need to do to fix the relationship with your parents?”
The months that followed were filled with tears, frustration, regret, forgiveness, but above all, honesty. This young man had made some very serious, relationship wrecking, choices that would take time to fix. But he had gained understanding that keeping his relationship with his parents in a holding pattern was no longer acceptable. He knew he was responsible for meeting them where they were and accepting them as his parents, not as his subordinates or even as his equal.
This story has a positive ending. The young man earned access to his parents and did the work necessary to play a participating role in their evolving relationship. Mom and Dad took the role of King and Queen of the family kingdom and Son accepted his role as the Prince with loads of potential. The courage it took for those parents to save their son was amazing but they did it and now their son, who they love beyond measure, has a chance. by Shawn Brooks, Executive Director, Oxbow Academy
“It took a lot of work but it’s a trip they’ll never forget,” says Bill Pollock. He’s talking about trips on horseback and on mountain bikes to Utah’s spectacular San Rafael Swell and Moab.
More than just jumping in the van and hitting the highway, Oxbow students had to be meeting their goals in residential, clinical, and academic areas. They also had to be independent level. And of course, there was that little matter of parental permission.
The mountain bikers toured Utah’s spectacular red rock country for some slick rock riding. They put in more than 20 miles their first day out and 12 miles the second day. It’s an adventure travelers from all over the world come to experience.
The San Rafael trip was a horseback adventure. Not only did students participating have to be level appropriate, they also had to demonstrate their ability to navigate a horse through an obstacle course as part of their horsemanship requirement.
The riders saw coral canyons and Native American pictographs that are thousands of years old.
Both groups combined their day activities with camping out for two nights on the Thursday through Sunday adventures.
Besides seeing the spectacular scenery and having a great time, Bill says, “It’s all teaching moments – how to deal with all kinds of situations and be proactive. It’s about finding the positive every day.”